Thursday, August 17, 2006

In which I survey the damage

So Ms. TfK and I are tooling along, minding our business. A walk in the park seemed in order, so we had driven off to enjoy some fine weather. At the left turn into the park, we waited for traffic to stop when the light turned, and then made our quick turn during the yellow.

At least, that was the plan. Someone else, trying to beat the now yellow light, barreled through, sending our car into a 180.

DamageSince I was in the passenger seat, I'm understandably glad that it was the rear tire that got bent on its axle, and the metal of the rear of the car that now hangs in ugly shards beneath the ripped plastic of the bumper. A few feet further forward and TfK would be on indefinite hiatus. My appreciation for seat belts is also considerably enhanced.

Ms. TfK and I caught our breath, determined we were not noticeably injured, and looked around for the other car. It seemed to have stopped, or at least slowed, but given its rapid acceleration away, the cut in speed probably just reflected lost momentum. This was unfortunate, since we were hoping to exchange insurance information, and perhaps offer some friendly tips on what those colored lights at the intersection meant.

Alas, they left, taking with them our hope of recovering the deductible. As luck would have it, they left behind their front bumber, as well as assorted glass shards, and attached to the bumper, their license plate.

BumperA kind soul chased after them and wrote down the same number from their rear bumper. He saw four guys crammed in a crappy old sedan, then came back and sat with us until the police arrived to take his statement. On some karmic level, he helped balance out the truly atrocious thing those guys had done.

The police were excellent, efficient, kind, and informative. The paramedics who came to check us out were amiable and understanding. The AAA tow truck driver had sage advice. The insurance company is an insurance company, morally neutral at its best.

Having the license plate – DWN 1133 – the cops readily identified the owner, and were pretty certain that there was no insurance on the car (reliable sources tell me that's probably because they previously got a ticket for driving without insurance). The police are on the lookout for the vehicle and its owner, but consider their hopes pretty slim.

They expect that, given the Latino last name, the car's behavior, and the number of people in the car, it was probably owned and driven by illegal immigrants. The entire household will probably have the same last name, and will all deny driving the car, or even owning it. And even if the owner were to come forward, he probably doesn't have insurance, let alone the money to pay back the insurance company.

I suppose there's some sort of lesson here. I could talk about how this argues for giving driving licenses to people who will drive anyway, so they can then get insurance, and won't have to skip the scene after an accident. Others would make a case for sending the lot of them back to Mexico, which seems to be a bit late at this point.

But for now, let's rise above that fray and focus on a few important truths.

  1. Seatbelts save lives. Wear yours.
  2. Because of seatbelts and generally safe driving practices, we are alive and unharmed (barring a few aches and pains).
  3. There are assholes in the world, and they drive. Watch out.
  4. There are nice people in the world. Some in uniform, others just doing a favor for someone they never met.
Ms. TfK and I are still a bit shaken up a few days later, but we are largely settling down, and I think my heart rate and blood pressure are back within normal tolerances. Ms. TfK's may still be elevated because she's been dealing with the insurance company.

How you balance points 3 and 4 above, or how you balance the colossal damage to the car against the fact that we seem to have dodged any serious harm, says a lot about how you see the world. We're trying to be upbeat about this.

This isn't a bleg, but the deductible on the repairs is a little steep for two grad students. If you could spare a little PayPal cash, click on the hand in the sidebar.