Rainy Night on the Highway by
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Rainy Night on the Highway

I confess I’m not the best of drivers and I’ve had my share of accidents,  and have also taken some blame when I wasn’t even behind the wheel.  (See Fender Bender,  and The Chain Letter and the Fender Bender)

Back in the late 60s I was working in a public library and my schedule included a few late nights each month.  I had a 30 minute highway commute and normally I didn’t mind the drive,  but one dark night as I pulled out of the library parking lot to head home it started to rain heavily.

Now one big perk of being a librarian is that you get first dibs on the new books when they arrive,  and that day I had gotten hold of Ira Levin’s new novel Rosemary’s Baby.  Although not a horror fan,  I was intrigued by the hype and anxious to read it.  In fact as I got into my car I had the book in my hand and I put it down on the passenger seat.

By the time I got to the highway the rain was coming down in buckets,  and I soon spotted what was obviously a multi-vehicle collision up ahead with cars and police and an ambulance spanning two or three of the opposing lanes.  As drivers rubber-necked to see the accident,  the traffic on my side of the highway slowed to a crawl,   and it seemed a good time for me to sneak a look at a few pages of Rosemary’s Baby.

Then,  you guessed it – the roadway was wet and my car was still in gear,  and while my eyes were on the book I rear-ended the car ahead of me.

So there we were – cop cars diverting traffic around us as we exchanged insurance information in the pouring rain,  and me thanking my lucky stars no one was hurt,  especially the three little kids in the back seat of the other car.

Despite a badly damaged front end,  my car was drivable and I made it home,  both me and the car in one piece,  although the front bumper was hanging on for dear life.

And so that rainy night on the highway I learned an important and very costly lesson.  Now I read only at red lights,  and I try to remember to put the car in park.

– Dana Susan Lehrman

Profile photo of Dana Susan Lehrman Dana Susan Lehrman
This retired librarian loves big city bustle and cozy country weekends, friends and family, good books and theatre, movies and jazz, travel, tennis, Yankee baseball, and writing about life as she sees it on her blog World Thru Brown Eyes!

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Tags: Accidents, Humor
Characterizations: funny, well written


  1. Laurie Levy says:

    What I love about this story is that you were distracted by an actual book, not a text or phone conversation as it would be today.

  2. Dave Ventre says:

    And now cars have entertainment systems on the dashboard!

  3. Marian says:

    At least you weren’t trying to put on makeup, Dana. Glad all survived unscathed.

  4. Betsy Pfau says:

    It is ironic that the book was “Rosemary’s Baby”, such an ominous book, that caused the accident, but Dana! NO! Reading a book is just as bad as texting or reading something from your phone while driving. A big no-no! Distracted driving is a leading cause of accidents these days. As Dave points out, now we have these whole systems on our dash boards, the point is to be able to do all the functions while still looking at the road, but how is that really possible? In MA there is a law against using your cellphone while driving. Hands-free use only. Please don’t give in to temptation; well maybe if you are in a huge traffic jam (I know that can happen in NY).

  5. Suzy says:

    Dana, this is hilarious! I agree with Khati about the foreshadowing, and of course with Betsy about reading while driving being a big no-no. But since nobody was hurt, we can laugh about the whole thing. I just don’t want you behind me on the road!

  6. Ha! Librarian Looky-Loo Creates Occupational Hazard with Rosemary’s Baby! What a fabulous confession, Dana. And clearly this death-defying behavior took place BEFORE people began texting on their cell phones. Are you driving a lot these days? I’m with Suzy… let me know if you ever decide to drive to California. Yikes!

  7. Since your accident (or maybe because of it) science has investigated and determined that Satanism can jump from the printed page into the eyes of the reader, causing all sorts of bad things to happen. I’ve heard.
    Ira Levin (1929-2007), who is obviously in this group’s memory wheelhouse, had a big and successful writing career, before and after his skin-crawling, nightmare-inducing “Rosemary’s Baby”; he is quoted in Wikipedia as having said: “I feel guilty that ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ led to ‘The Exorcist’, ‘The Omen’. A whole generation has been exposed, has more belief in Satan. I don’t believe in Satan [now he tells us]. And I feel that the strong fundamentalism we have would not be as strong if there hadn’t been so many of these books…Of course, I didn’t send back any of the royalty checks.”

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