Yes, I'm still alive. And very glad to be especially after all the news about boldstars dying in car crashes, not that I'm implying I'm a boldstar or anything like that.
So last night, I met up with Team Angas to discuss our plans for Posterboy Nathan's LOTR-themed wedding this summer. It requires planning, and a treasure hunt for the perfect, precious baul. After many hilarities that went with the discussion, and since it was nearly midnight (which means we have already surpassed the loser mark of 10pm), we all decided to go home. Instead of taking the shorter Sta. Mesa route in a cab, I decided to take the long and winding Manila route.
The jeep was nearly empty. Three teenage guys joked around in the seats behind the driver, and I occupied the last seat near the exit, on the left side. Somewhere in Espa?a, a guy in gimmick clothes got in. It was a clear smooth ride. As we passed the Manila City Hall and emerged from the Lagusnilad tunnel, the traffic light was green. The jeepney driver charged on, and as we crossed Finance Road and Taft Avenue, there was suddenly a bright white light and there in front of us was this huge mass of steel. The jeepney driver stepped on the brakes but it was too late. All glass and burning rubber and there was no time for me to let go of my Kyle bag and Eng 10 papers and I found myself hurtling in space towards the front of the jeep and the huge mass of steel and a mash of arms and legs and other people's shoes.
We were hit by a ten wheeler truck, which still raged on and tried to get away if the taxi drivers near the National Museum hadn't blocked him.
All the laughter had stopped. People started to loom their faces inside the jeep, screaming words I could barely understand as they pulled the driver away from the wreckage. The teenage guys and the gimikero and I got off the jeep, still shocked. We stood on the sidewalk, not quite sure what to do. A cab stopped beside us, and the teenage guys wordlessly got in and they sped off. I don't know where they went.
Then it dawned on me that I was still alive, and I was standing there on the sidewalk amidst the burned rubber and the shards of broken glass. I used to joke that car crashes in the movies and on television were all the same: white light and people covering their eyes, a jolt forward and ear drum scraping noise. But it was like that, only it played out in slow motion and you have no choice but to go with the wave, your body out of your control and hurtling into space.
I whipped out my phone and dialled home. It was a liitle past midnight, surely my brothers would still be up, typing out papers or surfing or playing mp3s. The phone rang and rang in my probably darkened room. Nobody picked up. I texted my friends and nobody replied. I tried calling my brother one more time, he might have gone to his room already, preparing for sleep. But no, his phone was off. My hands were shaking as I looked at my phone's little screen, and I saw that there was blood on my hands. I wiped it off on my "I Love Boys" baseball shirt and dialled a friend one more time. When she picked up, I rambled on about the crash, that I was going to the hospital, and could she please go here, please?
I was becoming frustrated with all the inept policemen. They wouldn't even get our names and other details, because they said it was out of their jurisdiction and we had to wait for the traffic police. I wanted to scream, what if we were all dying and they're going to wait for the goddamned traffic police?
My friend arrived and wanted to whisk me away to the hospital, but the other police guys said we must wait for the traffic guy. By then, I could feel the pain on my hips and my arms and I had to lean on those orange roadblocks to keep myself upright. Gimikero guy wanted to slink away, because he only sneaked out of his house for a gimmick and his parents didn't know he was out, and he was 33 years old and whiny. When the potbellied traffic guy finally arrived an hour later in his boat car, he took all of five minutes to walk from the corner and our spot, which was like 5 or 7 meters away. He told us to go to the hospital. Duh. We wanted to do that ages ago, but those other police wanted us to stay. Gimikero guy wanted police assistance. In the frazzle, he lost his wallet and didn't have money to pay for the hospital. Traffic guy just shrugged. Gimikero guy ended up going home, and I suspect that he'd probably invent excuses and we'd never see him again.
We took a cab to PGH, where the Emergency Room was under renovation and you had to sit outside with confused people with bloody legs. They took my blood pressure, and of course it'll be stable because the accident was more than an hour ago, thank you. I told them about the pain, and I was told to wait, because obviously, the person with his leg in a mangled mess was in more pain than I was.
At the x-ray section, I laid down on the cold steel slab and watched the metal as it took pictures of my bones. The girl in charge asked my friend to go with her inside the darkroom to have the x-ray films developed. I never encountered an x-ray person afraid of her own lab. Duh. We were told to slide down the results under the doctor's door, where it magically disappeared and reappeared an hour later, after spending the better part of an hour hanging out by the benches and flinging mosquitoes off our arms and legs. I might have survived the crash, but if we weren't quick, dengue might have been the end of me.
The jeepney's operator approached me, asking what I needed, but I had already paid for the bill, and I just said that I'd go with her to make the statement. But the lab had taken so much time, and by 5 a.m. all the dizziness had come back. I could barely open my eyes. If we went to the traffic office, I knew it would be lunch time before they'd even get their arses going. I opted to go home and told her I'd give my statement in the afternoon.
I just hate this freaking bureaucracy where they make you wait and you have to repeat the same things over and over again. I had to give my name and contact numbers several times already, to police people who have no jurisdiction on the case anyway, and I had to give them my red pen because their pen wouldn't work. Now someone in the traffic division has my teaching load for the summer, and I don't even remember what my classes then would be. I really would like to follow up the case, but I'm daunted by the sheer amount of time that'll be wasted by going back and forth the police station and countless countless meetings. As if this lost weekend isn't enough. Sigh.