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The day a semi-trailer hit my van

It was one of those beautiful spring days. I had traveled to downtown Baltimore with a group of colleagues. We spent the afternoon doing service at the Toolbank, part service opportunity and part teamwork.

When we carpooled that morning at the office, I offered to get three of my co-workers into my van. I wanted to have my own transportation because our fifth grader had a concert that night and I had to be there.

Everyone loves a minivan, or at least my carpool team did. Most of the time on the Jones Falls Highway, we were talking about the joys of minivan life.

We arrived at the Toolbank, and I found a place to park. We got out of the car and went inside for a pizza lunch and instructions. We started our work and I volunteered to inspect the utility knives. This is apparently not my area of ​​expertise, and I had only checked a few when one of my colleagues came to find me.

“Rita, there’s a man here who says he hit your car.”

Now, if you’ve been following here, you might know that I just had another accident earlier this year. We just had the van repaired.

I greeted the driver and we got out together to see my van. I was hoping it would just be a scratch or a dented bumper. No. Part of the side of the car was missing. I could see the gas tank. The tire was flat and appeared damaged. And the van wasn’t where I left it. He had been shot 10 or 15 feet down the street.

It turned out that the driver was driving a tractor-trailer. He was trying to turn into a parking lot across the street to make a delivery when the tray tore through the side of our van.

He was nice and sorry. I was completely dumbfounded.

When I could talk, I called the police and my insurance company. I texted my husband and sent him pictures. He called and we talked about the damage.

My colleagues all wanted to know how they could help. My boss quickly made friends with the friendly employees of the pipe and steel supply company across the street. They gave him a USB key containing a video of the whole accident.

My colleagues finished the service activity, said goodbye and left. My supervisor stayed behind to wait with me for the police and the tow truck, and to drive me home.

As the afternoon melted away, I was nervous about getting home in time for my son’s band concert that night. Would the police arrive in time? Would the tow truck driver arrive one day? But they both did. The police officer made a full report and told me, “Keep this video for the rest of your life. The tow truck driver came while the cop was there and took the van to the same body shop that fixed it earlier this spring. The woman who called from the body shop saw my information coming, remembered me, and called to make sure I was okay.

No one was hurt. Everyone was very kind and supportive. If your minivan is going to be hit by a tractor-trailer, I guess that’s the best possible situation.

Thinking back to that day, I realized that the accident had happened on the Feast of the Visitation. It is the day when we remember the visit of our Blessed Mother to her cousin Elizabeth, and how Saint John the Baptist, in utero, recognizes Jesus in Mary’s womb.

It’s one of my favorite holidays and a beautiful reminder of how we can connect with others on many levels. I like to think of how you can know that Christ is in someone else even if you can’t see it.

I’m obviously not happy that my van was damaged and I don’t know if I’ll be able to drive it again. It’s the newer of our two cars and not the one we were thinking of replacing anytime soon. I love my minivan. But it’s just a car. Cars can be repaired. If necessary, the cars can be replaced. I don’t know what the next chapter of this story will be.

Yet, looking back at how events unfolded, I am very grateful to the people who have accompanied me throughout this day. It is easy to see God in their actions and presence. He was with me in so many ways.

Thanks to them, I made it home in time to feed my family the hastily ordered Chinese takeout and get to the band’s concert. What a gift in every way.

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