I got into my minivan, started it, and looked at the digital display. It was only a few minutes to three. Not bad, I thought…my entire mammogram appointment had taken less than an hour.
I backed out of my spot and drove slowly in a spiral, down the hospital’s parking ramp. At the bottom of the ramp, there is an “S” turn to get to the small ramp that goes up to the cashier booths. My ticket was validated, so I anticipated driving up to the cashier and going on my way.
As I steered around the middle curve of the “S”, I saw a car at the top of the ramp to the left side. The driver’s door was open, and an older woman was halfway out of the car. She stepped out of her car, and it looked like she was trying to push the car up the ramp to the cashier booth. I didn’t drive any closer to her — I wasn’t sure what she was doing. If she had car trouble, she was in a perfect place to just put the car in park and go get help.
She sat back down in the driver’s seat, with her left foot sticking out of the car. Slowly, the car began to roll backwards, diagonally down the ramp. It looked like the woman was trying to stop the car with her left foot!
The car kept rolling backwards, right toward me! She’s not going to stop! I thought, and I put my van in reverse as her car picked up speed. I backed up quickly, steering backward around the “S” curve, looking wildly behind me and at the car headed straight for me. There was a CRASH as the car hit the rear end of a parked SUV. The car pushed the SUV toward the wall, and the car finally stopped its backward descent down the ramp. I heard a honk as another car came up behind me, the driver oblivious to what had just happened.
Shaking, I put my van into drive, drove up to a parking spot, and let the car behind me pass. I got out my phone, and headed toward the woman from the runaway car to see if she was okay. She was visibly shaking, but otherwise was unhurt. She asked if she could use my phone to call her husband, even though my intent had been to call the police. A man walking by said he would call public safety for us.
I gave the woman my phone. She was shaking so much she couldn’t dial the number, and I offered to dial it for her. It took three times for her to remember the correct number to dial, and she was finally able to talk to her husband. She spoke to him in her first language, and after she hung up and thanked me, she told me the brakes didn’t work on her car. I waited with her for public safety to show up, which happened in a matter of minutes. I gave the officer my name and number, and went on my way.
Although the woman’s car had seemed like it was speeding toward me, in reality it probably never reached 15 miles per hour. The damage to both cars was minimal, to my eye, at least. No one was hurt, and I’m grateful that the girls were at home with a babysitter. I drove in the direction of my house carefully, still shaken up. Since I had a babysitter, I pulled into a Starbucks and bought myself a grande Cafe Mocha–full strength, 2% milk, please!