Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Big Doin's on Riverview Drive Last Night

patton avenue sunset
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
Last night started out to be a quiet and ordinary night. My demon son was supposed to meet me at home at 6:00 - I got home just in time after acquiring a carton of cigarettes, a case of cheap beer and a giant bag of dog food at Sam's Club, which made me wonder, as I packed it all into the car, just when I had turned completely into a redneck - and of course he did not. Audrey got home around 8:00 and was about to eat dinner while I, in my cozy I-am-not-leaving-the-house uniform of ghastly yoga pants and thermal shirt and one of my dad's old giant flannel shirts, was curled up in the big chair with a bottle of seltzer and a copy of The Borribles. Suddenly there was a huge thump thump BOOM and the power went out.

"What the fuck?" we said and then I said, "Maybe a transformer exploded," but Audrey, quicker to the draw, said,
"That was a car accident. Oh god what if it's Miles?"

This is not something anyone as a parent wants to contemplate. So we grabbed flashlights and took off running up the street, passing downed power lines and other neighbors emitting cries of alarm and found a pickup on its side in a neighbor's front yard, wheels still spinning and, incongruously, a banjo lying nearby, apparently flung from the wreck. One car looks much like another from underneath in the dark and I could not bear to check too closely to see if it was anyone I knew but Audrey is more intrepid and she investigated further. Turns out the pickup had smashed into two cars on its fast and lurching way down the hill (note that there was no screech of brakes before the thump thump BOOM) and then taken out a whole electric pole before flipping into the neighbor's yard, where it handily removed all their landscaping, garden fence and satellite dish before coming to rest on its side.

The neighbors said that two people who had been in the truck apparently kicked out the windshield and disappeared. They were reasoning, I suppose, that they didn't want to be found lying there on the ground with all the liquor bottles that had also spilled out of the cab. Not to mention the banjo. I can't believe they were hale enough to make it out of the truck; it seemed as if they must be badly hurt. All night there were cops with flashlights going through the woods around my house - these are thick and brushy woods, by the way: if the driver got away, he or she definitely has the world's worst case of poison ivy by now - but I don't know if they ever caught them.

It is a fucking miracle that they or someone else - a dogwalker, another driver, a child - was not killed.

Meanwhile, people kept trying to drive up the street, so I went with my flashlight and directed traffic for a while, turning cars around and telling them what had happened. You'd be surprised at how many people don't get that driving right over downed live power lines is not at all a good idea. Then the emergency people showed up: police and firefighters and eventually the power company. The firefighters blocked the road off right at my house with cones and a flashing truck so that for the next two hours being in my house was like being in some strange and terrible disco. It's a good thing we don't have epilepsy; standing outside was strobe city.

Eventually they moved on up the road to block it a little closer to the actual scene. Then the wreckers came and four big power company trucks and Audrey and I and two of our neighbors stood outside and drank beer and talked and continued directing traffic, since people kept right on speeding up the road. I should have known, but I was surprised at just how fast many people were going as they came up my street. I knew in an abstract way that people speed like crazy but getting up close and personal with it last night was quite eye opening. Lady in the old Subaru wagon, I saw you and if I ever see you again I will kick your ass and I am not kidding at all, not one little bit. If I'd gotten your license plate number I would have turned you in already. You nearly killed me and three other people. Do not drive 55 fucking miles an hour on a narrow windy residential street with a speed limit of 25 mph and if you do, for Christ's sake pay attention to the fact that there are people in the middle of the road shouting and waving flashlights at you, not to mention cop cars and ambulances and fire engines and power company trucks, all flashing more lights than a space shuttle launch, about 200 yards ahead.

That was all exciting but then we went inside and played yahtzee and gin rummy by candlelight (I am going to dump every stupid vanilla candle directly in the trash, yes, and get some unscented ones) and it got dull so we went to bed in the dark, dark, quiet, quiet house. Naturally the power came back on around 2 in the morning and with it all the lights and the music and everything so I staggered up and turned everything off and went back to bed, as a consequence of which I am a bit bleary eyed this morning. Bleary eyed or not, though, I have already fired off an email to my city council member friend pleading for speed bumps. Actually, if you are from Asheville, I am going to ask you to do the same. I was against them myself until last night but I have changed my mind in a major way. Seriously, my road is very unsafe and something needs to be done and done fast before somebody does get killed and comic relief notes like the banjo and the liquor bottles are just not funny anymore.


dave said...

I am the neighbor of the house beside the one where these jokers flipped. My Subaru wagon was taken out in the process. I'm sure that this will be a mess resulting in me losing a lot of money and having a lot of trouble w/ work/transpo. A red Kia further up the road was whacked pretty good, too. I was on the scene instantly and saw these jokers run, couldn't ID if I had to though on account of the exploding electrical stuff. It was a mess. I have lived on R-view Dr. for years, speed bumps would be great. Who would I lobby for this?

mygothlaundry said...

I sent a long email to Gordon Smith - he lives in the neighborhood - his email is

I don't know who else to call or write; I went to the community association meeting last fall where they told us that there's a 10 year waiting list for speed bumps or sidewalks; the city just doesn't have the money. Maybe, though, if enough of us complain, they will do something. I think we need speed bumps and we need them yesterday.

mygothlaundry said...

Oh and all my friends want to know only one thing: who got the banjo? ;-)

dave said...

I didn't see a banjo. I think they caught the driver. I am waiting to hear from all of the insurnace people, waiting for the big screw. I have my ducks in a row though, I will not be screwed without a fight. I'm a poor boys struggling to keep my business vital in recession, my Subaru was my horse, immaculately maintained with but 100k miles, watch them give me a grand for it. Watch me take some people to civil court.

grandma said...

Good luck. We have the same thing on Clingman Ave. The neighborhood association is dead set against even changing the speed limit from 35 to 25. Hmmmmm...I wonder how many of the speeders are our neighbors? For my granddaugher's safety, I rented my house to bartenders and moved to an apartment on a narrow street with onstreet parking and a 25 mile speed limit.

Gordon Smith said...


I've asked city staff to get me up to date on the trafic studies that have been conducted thus far. I'll keep you posted as to what I hear and what the next steps are.

mygothlaundry said...

Awesome, Gordon, thanks!