This is the second in a two-post piece on my screwup one day photographing the Black Water Dam in southern NH in the late 80s.
I packed the gear in the back of the car and began to drive out to the highway. I thought I might drive into Manchester, a nearby city, as I knew that there was a camera store there. Maybe they would have the Bogen connector plate I needed. Maybe the day wouldn't be a total wash and I could go back to Black Water Dam to photograph.
I drove into town, parked on a side street, got out of the car, and, as I was crossing the street heading for the camera store, looked over my right shoulder to see an older, somewhat beaten-up pickup truck parking behind my car. I could see it was a woman behind the wheel and she was parking a whole space behind my car on the street, which was on a hill. Both my car and her truck were facing down the hill. No problem, right? Well, she got out of her truck, locked it and started to walk down the sidewalk as I stood there and watched the truck quietly start to move forward on its own, building speed as it rolled, heading for my car. Surprising how much speed a small pickup truck can gain when coasting downhill in just 15 feet or so. Bang! It hit my car, launching it forward into the car I had parked behind, which now had risen up on my hood. After all this, seeming like out of a movie, there was now complete silence. I ran over to find my rear bumper shoved into the rear trunk of the car, the rear tailgate glass shattered and the front bumper barely visible under the rear of the sedan that now resided halfway up on the hood of my car. There was a little steam rising from the area of the engine of my car and a small puddle forming on the pavement smelling like antifreeze.
I am sure I was disintegrating right there on the sidewalk in Manchester, NH that morning, unable to cope or maybe even comprehend what was going on. Those of you that know me know I am something of a car guy. Obsessively washing and waxing, vacuuming and detailing. That's me. My car, which was a pristine and impeccable Nissan 300 ZX 2 +2 had now been hit from both ends in an accident that I had witnessed from across the street in what looked like a slow-motion sequence from a film.
If my day hadn't been shot before this little scene occurred, certainly it was done now. There ensued local cops, the pickup truck woman returning to find her vehicle had caused all the commotion, a call to my insurance company, a flatbed tow truck from AAA, a friend offering to come pick me up and get me home with the camera and gear, a decision to have the car towed to a close-by body shop to my home in Cambridge, and then months of repair and repainting before anything close to normality ensued.
It seems the gods were not aligned in my favor that day. In all the years of photographing, on the street, close to home, on location, and traveling far and wide, I've never been so confused, disoriented, and displaced by a series of events as I was that day.