Car Accidents & Strangers

The burst of humanity after a near-fatal wreck.

Car Accidents & Strangers
Photo by Benjamin Suter / Unsplash

Two weeks ago we got into a bad car accident in remote Wyoming. We were rear-ended by someone going 70 miles-per-hour in a 30-mph zone, and our car was sent into a snowbank and totaled. The skis in the back narrowly missed us as they flew forward and crashed into the front dash. Thankfully, we were largely uninjured, but bruised, sore, and shaken up.

In the minutes and hours after the wreck, we had a series of extraordinary interactions with strangers. In the cold, desolate landscape of rural Wyoming, suddenly there was this burst of humanity. It was like we had entered some peculiar portal of heightened connection. Civilians materializing out of nowhere within seconds of the wreck and running towards us. The gentleness of the paramedics in the way they cared for us. The way the Wyoming state trooper swept the highway clean of debris with a house broom as if it was his kitchen floor. The warm hospitality of the elderly tow-truck driver. The friendship we formed with the owner of a private taxi company as she rearranged her day to drive us two hours to the next town, sharing stories of heartbreak and triumph until we had nothing left to say.

Maybe it was the pairing of our tenderness after the wreck with the warmth of strangers that led to something remarkable: a rare opening to connect with unexpected strangers that is mostly missing from the planned, remote, virtual lives we lead.