A Screenwriter In A Car Accident

May 11, 2011 at 7:53 am

A Screenwriter In A Car Accident | Screenwriting Blog

A SUNDAY IN THE LIFE OF AN
ASPIRING SCREENWRITER

I recently wrote about the influence that massive world events can have on your writing choices. Events like The Royal Wedding, The death of Osama Bin Laden or a federal election.  They may not affect you specifically but when the world changes, often your perception of it changes as well.

What about personal life experiences? They don’t have to be epic world altering events but they are crucial in order to evolve as a writer.  These events can range from life changing moments to seemingly insignificant personal encounters. Every moment affects your writing. Think about it this way:

How much would a story you wrote 10 years ago change if you started from scratch today?

Is each word you write influenced by your experiences?  I think so.

The following is the tale of a single and completely bizarre day in my life. How will these events shape my writing from now on? The answer remains to be seen but they are a part of me now.  Lets start at the beginning…

I WAS IN A CAR ACCIDENT

It’s amazing how a tiny decision leads you to a certain moment. Is it fate? Or coincidence? What you believe can affect your writing too…

My girlfriend woke up and told me she felt off… She hadn’t slept well.  Our plan for the day was to join some friends and head downtown to sell some DVDs and shop for the afternoon.  The DVD store opened at noon as opposed to the 10 o’clock start time promoted on it’s website so we had some time to kill.  We were left with a decision. Head to the east end, visit a kitchen store and grab some wings or wait.

It’s hard not to think about what might have been if we would have left then but we decided to stick around…

When we finally dropped off our movies we were told it would be another 2 hours before we got our cash. (Vendors have to check each disc for scratches and such.) We finally decided to head east.  After lunch the plan was to head back downtown, pick up our money and call it a day.

We weren’t prepared for busy Sunday traffic. We were stopped when a man in an old truck slammed into us like we were the concrete wall in a crash test.  My girlfriend was driving and was the only one who saw it coming. She shrieked a mere milliseconds before we were jolted forward.  All of the sudden, the fact that she felt ‘off’ took on a whole new meaning.  In a strange way, did she subconsciously know something like this would happen?  It’s an interesting thought isn’t it?

Thankfully everyone was okay but I could tell instantly that she was shaken up.  She had never been in a car accident before.  The full financial and psychological impact of an accident is hard to prepare for. When you’re shaken up you don’t think about things like whether spending the time to compare car insurance quotes was worth it, but we were certainly thankful we had coverage that day. 

We exited the vehicle half expecting a sincere apology but it wasn’t meant to be. Even now I can’t decide if the man was in shock or if he just didn’t really care.

“I hit you. There’s nothing we can do about it now so that’s that.”

I’m paraphrasing of course but if it were me, I would have apologized 38 million times before anyone else could utter a single word. He came across as smug and unsympathetic.  If I may quote a famous line from Seinfeld:

“Smugness is not a good quality.”

We distanced ourselves from him while we waited for the police to arrive.  Yet still,  I couldn’t help but try to get into his head. Did he feel bad? Couldn’t he tell how upset we were?

At this point, we were all sore from the effects of our muscles tensing up when he hit us.  We gave our statements to the police, hopped in a rental car and went home.

Little did I know, this bizarre afternoon was just getting started…

Once our nerves settled, the four of us decided to be cautious and find a medical clinic.  We learned quickly that it’s pretty difficult to find an open walk in clinic on a Sunday evening.  Fortunately, we found one that was right around the corner from the DVD store.  The plan was to finally pick up our cash and head to the doctors.

Who could have predicted we would find ourselves in the middle of a war over a parking space!

“F*$# THIS.  CALL THE COPS!”
THE PARKING WAR

When my friend and I emerged from the store we realized very quickly that someone was waiting for our parking spot.  As we began to pull away, the guy pulled in front of us and started backing in.

Before we knew it, another guy had pulled up behind us. (Which made us nervous enough considering we were rear ended earlier that day.)  Both of the men thought our space was theirs for the taking and a battle erupted.

We got out of the car and the shouting began.  Someone had to move or we weren’t going anywhere.  The guy behind us was furious and eventually made the following statement:

“F*&# this, call the cops because I’m not moving!”

Are you kidding me!  Over a parking space? We just wanted to go home…

All the yelling eventually attracted the attention of a nearby cop.  As he approached I became fascinated.  Which one will he focus on?  Who is wrong here? Who will have to move?  We supported the car in front of us because he had the spot first.  I’m not sure why he decided to pull up and back in when he was behind us already but it was his.

In the end, the car in front of us moved just enough for us to get out without giving up the space.  We got out of there before the situation was resolved.  Mainly because we just wanted to get checked out and go home.

Was the confusion finally over for us?  Nope.

A STRANGE VISIT TO THE HOSPITAL

Waiting rooms always make me nervous when I’m waiting for a check up.  You never know who is going to walk in.  I feel terrible when I see people in pain.  I wouldn’t wish pain on my worst enemy so you can imagine how I felt when an old woman wandered into the hospital in tears…

She looked lost.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone so destroyed and inconsolable.  It sounds like I’m exaggerating but it’s true.  She was absolutely devastated.  Immediately, a nurse and a doctor rushed to her aid and she began to explain what was wrong.

“I haven’t seen my daughter in a long time.  She is a lawyer and she works really hard.”

Her words were difficult to hear as she was crying uncontrollably.  We were all thinking about what could have possibly happened.  The woman didn’t appear to be injured so was it her daughter?

“She came to visit me today after so many months…  And she has gained so much weight!  What do I do?!”

What!? Her daughter gained weight? I can’t even imagine what this woman’s reaction was when she was standing in front of her daughter.  Her daughter gains weight and this woman, her mother, is so upset that she goes to the hospital?

Then I started thinking about the mental stability of this woman and I felt even worse.  What must be going through her mind?  She was so upset.  To us, the situation was strange and sad.  I’ll never know if she even had a daughter or what type of help she received but I’ve been thinking about it every since.

This was right around the time I was called in to see the doctor.

X-RAYS X3

Still pondering the fate of the old woman, I waited patiently for the doctor to arrive.  When he finally did, I became nervous again.  I was stiff and sore but I was positive that all I needed was rest.  To tell you the truth, I was more worried about my girlfriend than anything.  Her neck was really bothering her.  Still, I have a history of neck problems so they decided to take some x-rays to be sure.  Fair enough.

I had to change into a gown, walk out of my room, across the lobby (where my friends were waiting), ascend one floor in an elevator and walk down a lengthy hallway.  The lady took 3 pictures and the entire time I was thinking about the evolution of x-ray technology.  I had no idea it was digital.  I still thought they took a day or two to process.  It’s been a while since I broke my nose years ago.

Back in my room, I waited nearly 20 minutes for the doctor to arrive.  When he did, I was instructed to go BACK up to the x-ray room for more pictures.  Clutching the back of my adorable little hospital gown, I walked back across the lobby where my friends snickered a second time and made my way up to the x-ray room.

More pictures.

After 10 MORE minutes in my room, there was a subtle knock at my door.  It was the nurse.  I had to go back again!  They forgot one final pose.  Of course this led to more snickers as I traveled all the way back for more x-rays.  More snickers.

Finally, they had everything they needed in order to determine that I was completely fine.  All I needed was rest.  Unfortunately, my girlfriend suffered whiplash.  We were finally free to go home for good.

FINALLY HOME

Our bizarre day ended 5 seconds after we got home as we passed out almost right away.  Our action packed day was full of encounters with interesting characters.  Each of them handled stress in different ways and each of them fascinated me.

  • The smug man who felt no remorse after hitting us with his truck.
  • The woman who couldn’t bare to see her daughter because she gained weight.
  • The embarrassed technician who needed 3 attempts to get my x-rays right.
  • One of those two men missed out on a prime parking spot.  I wonder who it was.

THE POINT?

Perhaps, one or more of these character traits will pop up in a screenplay someday… Each of them has been stored in my mind’s character files. You never know when a particular character will come in handy.  Like virtually every screenwriter out there, I collect stories.  We all do.

All in all, it was a crazy day.

XTRA | A Year In The Life Of An Aspiring Screenwriter