It happened so fast that my brain didn’t get the chance to flash my life before my eyes.

“Hey, drive safe tonight, alright?” Said my buddy J.

“Yeah yeah, thanks, I will.” It’s the classic Californian mark of reassurance: I promise not to switch songs on Spotify while traversing the most dangerous place on planet Earth: The Interstate 5. (In California, we just call it “The 5.”)

I learned to drive when I was 19. I haven’t been in one accident. I’ve driven from San Diego to Tucson. I’ve driven from San Diego to Santa Cruz. And I’ve driven to L.A and back more times than I can count. Statisticians can work out the probability of me getting in an accident considering my track record of safe driving.

But that’s the problem. There is no such thing as safe driving. Not in California, anyways. Anyone who’s sane and living in the golden state knows this: driving on the freeway puts you at a higher risk of death than eating 6 Big Macs a day.

I drive safe. Other people don’t. And if everyone had that mindset, there would be less accidents. Instead, we get the opposite. We get people who drive under the mindset of, “everyone drives too slow [safe], so I need to get around them.”

That being said, I have no clue what was happening in the car that came inches away from slamming into my driver’s side windows at 65 miles an hour. It was 9:30 pm on a Monday. They could have been drunk. They could have been high. They could have been horny. I have no idea. The car showed up on my side so fast it was as if a wizard teleported them there.

I didn’t get the chance to watch my fondest childhood memories. The VCR operator of my mind’s eye couldn’t start the tape in time. The car regained balance in the next lane over, and left me feeling like this.

But I’m alive, breathing, and rubbing my Genie lamp wishing for Elon Musk to hurry the hell up and get self-driving cars to replace all these hurried, horrible drivers.

Half an hour later, I pulled up to my driveway.

I forgot I had left my GPS on.

“Welcome home,” it said.

Thousands of friends, parents, children, wives, husbands, aunts, uncles, sisters and brothers flashed before my eyes.

How many are never again welcomed home?

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