Monday, March 16, 2009

The time I almost accidentally let my best friend die

A few years ago, my cousin Nicolle and I (well, more her than me) planned a summer trip to The Motherland. We brought along some of our friends, including my BFF Natalie. (Hi Nat!) We rented an apartment in a little "town" that exists solely because of its proximity to a tiny inlet of beach.

The house. The first floor was ours.

View of the house from the "town."

Now don't get me wrong, I am NOT complaining. The house was practically on the the beach of a European seaside village, and I fully appreciated its charm and overall awesomness. My one and only issue with the town is that it calls itself a town. Because to be a town, don't you need something more than a market and a restaurant that's only open for lunch? Just sayin'.

So we rented this super cool apartment at the bottom of a super-steep cliff, a cliff that has a total of one super-narrow road. A road not wide enough for two cars to pass each other, a road that, as of 2006, does not have guardrails. On the off chance that you've never driven on the cliff side of a 10-foot wide road with no guardrails while huge trucks are barreling towards you, I'll tell you now: it makes your butt do that thing it does when you think you might die. In fact, thinking we might die was an oft-spoken sentiment that summer.

That steep-looking road in the corner of this picture is nothing compared to the mountain roads on the other side of that hill. But you get the idea.

So because this "town" only has two businesses, and the lives of truck drivers are threatened every time they deliver goods to said businesses, the town doesn't get much traffic. As such, the trash is only picked up once a week, and from a dumpster at the bottom of that steep hill. And so every other day, my vacationing friends and I would gather up our trash, put it in the trunk of the car and drop it in the dumpster on our way out of town. It was on such a day that I almost let my best friend of 15 years die a tragic, unnecessarily embarrassing death.

We piled into the car on that scorching hot day, our trash in the trunk, ready to spend another day exploring The Motherland. As we approached the dumpter, Donna (hi Donna!) who was sitting front seat, and Natalie, who was behind her, exited the vehicle to deposit the trash. Unbeknownst to our valiant and brave driver, Nicolle, I opened my door to get some much-needed air. (Anyone who's ever gotten into the backseat of a car that's been sitting out in the sun all day knows what I mean.) As Donna got back into the car, I closed my door.

So Nicolle at this point had heard two doors slam and assumed that we were all safely back in the car. Only we were not all safely back in the car, as Natalie was only halfway in the car. Nicolle put the car in first gear and the car rolled back slightly, causing Natalie, who is 5'9" with the longest limbs I've ever seen, to fly forward as she unsuccessfully attempted to get the rest of her body into the moving car. I witnessed this, but for some inexplicable reason, didn't say anything. Nicolle then stepped on the gas and began to accelerate, causing Natalie to this time be thrust backward, while still attempting to get the other half of her flailing body into the car. Again, for reasons known only to the dumpster gods, neither one of us spoke up. As the speed of the car increased and the image of Natalie being dragged behind the car and off a cliff became slightly more real in my head, I started screaming something that sounded like, "Cole! Natalie not in car, legs out, CLIFF!" Nicolle, glancing in her rearview mirror and realizing that her friend was hanging out of a moving vehicle that she was operating, slammed hard on the brakes. This of course caused Natalie to be slammed against the open back door with a very unpleasant thud. A little stunned but otherwise okay, she got back in the car and we all took a deep breath.

Once we saw that she was okay, we couldn't help it. We tried not to, but it really wasn't under our control. We started laughing....hard. The realization that she could've been flung out of a moving car and thrown against a dumpster was just too much for us to handle. Newspaper headlines ran through our heads and we laughed even harder. "Girl dies tragically taking out garbage." "American has deadly encounter with trash bin." "Deathly dumpster dive leaves woman dead." If humor can be found in something as awful as your best friend letting you die in dumpster, then leave it to my friends and I to find it.

While scary at the time, Natalie was able to laugh about it afterward. And while I've apologized many times for watching her almost perish, I feel I should now do it publicly: Nat, I'm sorry I almost let you die that day. From now on, I promise to always make sure you're all the way in the car before the driver takes off.

Although if you do somehow end up in a dumpster, I can't promise I won't make t-shirts.

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