A drunk driver tried to kill me ten years ago today.

Yup. I nearly died. But I didn’t.

Ten years ago, the evening of March 10, 2000, a drunk driver in a Chevy Tahoe SUV slammed into the back of my tiny Honda Civic hatchback—with no airbags.


I’ll find some pictures to post later. Right now, I just wanted to say that I am glad to still be alive and 99.9% recovered—or at least as much as one can recover with the perpetual damage done.

He, the drunk driver, tried to kill me. But guess what? He FAILED.

Never have I been more grateful for a failure than that.

I understand he’s a successful Princeton graduate now, and has been working on Wall Street or very close by for the past several years. I feel that some pondering of the connection of this and the recent economic meltdown is in order.

Of course the dry alcoholic in the White House had a lot to do with that too.

God damn you fucker, YOU NEARLY KILLED ME. But you didn’t! You’d think I’d be … bitter. Or not hosting a chapter of Drinking Liberally. The irony is almost enough to kill somebody.

No, instead, I’ve gone on with my life, which hasn’t been all peace love and understanding. I later divorced the wife whom the readers of Slashdot sang the praises of. Happens to most couples who suffer that sort of horrible trauma. We did produce a wonderful child, whom some of you know.

The Crash did not end my career in software, though it sure did interrupt it. One of my proudest moments in early recovery was being able to log on to my LinuxPPC computer and edit stuff in the UNIX text editor known as vi. (Emacs users would argue that using vi is a clear sign of brain damage, when clearly, they are the ones who are brain-damaged.)

I graduated from college some nine-and-a-half years after The Crash, and am about to reenter the workforce once again. I think I was back on my feet (literally!) within a few weeks of getting hit, and back to work to some extent within about six months. Being made into a ping-pong ball dropped into a high-pressure industrial compressor—which is what happens when a speeding SUV slams into your little car—will put you out of work for a while.

Oh, and I don’t drive an SUV, in spite of that being a logical defense against what hit me. I am a lot less reactionary when I see one nowadays, and certainly not nearly as paranoid as I once was when when was driving behind me. I felt little sympathy during the $4.00 gas price spike of 2008, and I’m generally relieved there are a few less hulks on the road today. (Oh, Hummer, how we’ll not miss thee…) Saving fuel is more important than possibly saving my remaining good eye in event of another crash.

Did I mention that? Head through the windshield of my car, glass shredding my left eye. Yeah. Fun stuff. The good news is that it’s still largely intact. It doesn’t hurt anymore, though I occasionally have a painless “optical migraine.” Those are just weird; it looks like you’re looking through a spinning fan that’s just inside one eye. I ignore them, and they go away.

Aside from my eye, my body’s fine now. No apparent lingering damage from when I crushed the steering wheel with my chest. I’m proud of that.

Nowadays I’m more proud of helping build a wonderful community garden, my “funky family,” and helping to reshape life in Milwaukee for the better. It’s what I’m good at.

A good perspective for my next 75 years!

Or however many more I last. Considering that once there was no way I would have been able to recover from what  happened to me ten years ago, I’d say I’m pretty damn lucky to be alive. And glad to be here! I recently wrote about this experience for the fine liberal arts magazine-blog Milwaukee Anthropologist. As the ancient Greek wise man Solon said, in so many words, Do not judge a person as being happy until they are dead. For only then can such judgment be pronounced.

I’ll gladly wait a while longer before getting there.

Update: I celebrated by attending a Milwaukee Admirals hockey game. They beat the Lake Erie Monsters, 5-1. Yeah!


Author: Jason Haas

Jason is an elected member of the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors, occasionally moonlights as an amateur gardener, and is a proud father of two, or three, depending on how you do the math.

7 thoughts on “A drunk driver tried to kill me ten years ago today.”

  1. Happy re-birthday, Jason.

    Perhaps link folks up to the fine essay you wrote for Milwaukee Anthropologist.

  2. I remember hearing the news, and being shocked, as IIRC we had just seen each other a couple of months before at Macworld. Glad to hear you’re still alive and kicking.


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