TBT: The perils of SWD (sneezing while driving)

Let it be known here and now I acknowledge that I’m not the best driver. In my almost eight years of having a license, I’ve been in almost as many accidents — all minor and typically not actually my fault (fate is cruel mistress when I’m behind the wheel).
While my accident details range from eye contact with an Amish man to a cyclist who refused to follow the rules of the road, my family’s favorite is the time I wrecked when sick.
I will preface this by saying SWD is incredibly dangerous. Many people (like my family) think it’s a joke, but there have been dozens of accidents caused by sneezes.
It’s early 2012 and I’m working at Sears (round 1) as a fine jewelry sales person. It’s Friday night and I’m scheduled to close and then go home after to spend the weekend with my family. Like most of my shifts, I contemplated calling off due to general apathy but tonight I had a legitimate excuse: I was really sick. Like the gross, snot everywhere kind of sick. Ultimately, I chose money > health.
The drive from school to the mall is around 30 minutes, but in that time I’ve accumulated enough tissues in my lap to wipe the noses of an entire daycare population. So far, the trip has been without incident despite my constant, illness-fueled distraction. Feeling like death, I began the final leg of my journey and turned into a parking spot.
Then it happened.
Without warning, the largest sneeze ever sneezed rose from my lungs and caused the air to be expelled from my body at such a high force I had no choice but to react. Impulse and instinct removed my hands from the wheel to block the large amount of snot and goo about the explode from my nostrils. In the same instant, I fumbled for one of the soiled tissues in my lap to help ease the blow. All of this happened in less than a second, I’m sure of it.
Now if you’re perceptive, you’ll realize I was parking my car and then my hands came off of the wheel. Mid turn into the spot. Most days, the Sears parking lot is abandonded but not on this fateful Friday evening.
Just as I began to process what had happened, I hear this terrible scraping sound and remember I’m operating a vehicle. To my great surprise, I’ve just side swiped the vehicle next to me. Immediately I erupt into tears.

I shakily finish parking and exit my darling LeBronda, just recently recovered from the accident pictured above (a story for another day, involves the aforementioned Amish man). Minimal damage to my car, but that much scraping had to leave a mark. And so it did. Down the length of the other vehicle. The tears begin flowing again as I slowly drag myself into the building. Before I make it, some man in the lot begins yelling at me telling me I can’t hit and run.
First of all, this man isn’t perceptive unless he thinks I’m a terrible criminal. Not only did I leave my car next to the one I hit, but I’m slowly walking into the store. He continues to scream at me until I turn my tear-stained face and tell him I would never do that, I work here and am going inside to make it right. If my sad face stirred any emotion inside of him, he didn’t show it but continued to mutter indistinctively as I walked away. Not only did the sneeze heard round the world cause an accident where I was most definitely at fault, this joker comes along and questions my character and makes me cry more by yelling at me. Seriously, I can’t handle being yelled at. No matter the reason, I will cry.
Second, I’m not so stupid that I would ever walk away. I’m a moral human being and terrified of legal action so I’d rather face the immediate wrath than try to get away with it. I’m not a criminal. Crime makes me nervous. Police officers yelling at me. No thank you.
So finally, after what seemed like hours of crying, contemplation and harrassment, I make it into the store and begin relaying the tale to everyone who notices my incredibly weepy face, mixed with tears and boogers from my ever flowing nose. I call my mom, still sobbing, and she all but laughs and calls me an idiot. Also she’s wonderful and advised me what to do.
Soon I find out it was a coworker’s car, she isn’t mad, we deal with everything and I start my shift, puffy eyed and filled with emotion and germs. I continue randomly crying and leaking a variety of fluids everywhere until I think a manager took pity on me and said I could go home.
It’s been three years since this happened, and I haven’t lived it down. Do you see how much I cried? Yet my family continues to act as if it was the greatest thing imaginable. I get it, I’m not a great driver, but who can stop a sneeze?! Next time you’re driving, pay attention if you sneeze. See the involuntary reactions that occur and put yourself in my shoes. Wrong place, wrong time and you’re hitting a parked car.
The moral of the story is never go to work if you don’t feel like it. JK. If you’re sick, stay home. Don’t risk minor accidents and infecting the public. Now, if I ever feel the slightest twinge of illness, I stay put. One time I didn’t listen to my instinct and look where it got me. Never again.

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