My Car Says "Ouchie"....
Yesterday was a beautiful day, Daylight Savings Time, so I woke up at 7:30-trying-to-decieve-me-into-believing-i
The lesson and subsequent practice went as great as it could, considering that I'd been up since 7:30 on a Sunday. I practiced my solo a couple of times, but it's hardcore, and I'm not a morning person, so I did a cool-down and headed out into the beautiful late morning sunlight, put my iPod on my "Skating" playlist, opened the windows, and actually looked forward to the half-hour drive home.
I turned onto Belair Road. About a block down the road from the rink is a 7-11, and as I approached in the righthand lane, a guy started to pull out of the driveway. My thought: "Dude, don't." He didn't listen; my osanwe must not have been working well. As I passed in front of him, he pulled out on me. He hit the right side of the car at my front tire and kept coming; he scraped down the entire right side of my car. I was going about 25 mph when he hit me and accelerating. My foot slammed down on the gas when he hit me, and I lost control of the car, fishtailing back and forth across Belair Road. Human reaction time is about .7 seconds; after my .7 seconds, my foot moved to the brake and slowed me down, luckily before hitting the cars waiting at the intersection literally a few yards ahead of me. I pulled the car into the nearest driveway, which was a Merchant's Tire Center.
I proceeded to wubble for two seconds and want my husband to appear beside me badly.
After two seconds of permitted wubbling, I breathed and thought of what to do. I was not hurt. I shut off the car. I shut off my iPod, unplugged it from the tape deck, and put it in my purse. I got out of the car, walked around to the side, saw how fucked up it was and mentally screamed. But...the car was not important at that point. I was worried that the guy who hit me might be hurt, so I hoofed it back up the road to the 7-11 where he'd hit me, about a block.
He was gone.
I circled the parking lot in a sort of dazed shock, checking every car, but none were smashed on the front. (It happened so quickly that I didn't know--still don't know--even the color of the car.) The street was full of glass and people were swerving around it but the guy who hit me was gone.
I walked back down to Merchant's. I had enough battery left in my cell phone for one call, so I called Bobby to tell him what had happened. I used some pretty colorful language. I would walk across the street and back to the rink to use Ms. Jackie's phone to call the police. But my forward-thinking husband called my inlaws, who live about ten minutes away from the rink, and had my father-in-law--who has had police training--meet me.
Now picture the scene: It is a beautiful April morning, and here I am, walking up the road to the 7-11 to check one more time for the guy who hit me (no dice), then over to the rink, in my tight skating trousers and my tighter, low-cut tank top...guys were honking at me; I felt mildly ridiculous. When I used to drive back and forth to dress rehearsals, I was dismally amused at the possibility of breaking down and having to walk to a phone in my sequined costume, stage makeup, and shimmer tights. No sequins here...but it was nearly as bad anyway.
So I hung out at the rink until my father-in-law arrived, about ten minutes later, and we rode back across the street in his police car to Merchant's. He called the police for me and had me wait with my car for the officer to arrive. He wanted to walk up to 7-11, flash his badge around a bit, and ask if anyone had seen anything.
So I sat on the hood of my car, watched the traffic go by, and worked on my suntan. (As if.)
A few minutes later, my f-i-l came walking back from 7-11 with a big grin on his face. "Dawn," he said, "we got him."
And from behind his back, he pulled out a license plate.
When the fool hit me, he scraped off his license plate and left it in the gutter. I was ecstatic. Later, f-i-l would say, "If you could have seen your face...." I must have looked like a kid on Christmas. A kid on Christmas who just got a pony.
But these were my thoughts up until that point: I am an exceptionally careful driver. I recognize that I can be spacey; that I "dissociate" a lot. And so I am extra-vigilant; it is a nightmare that I should cause an accident while writing the next chapter of my novel or listening to my muses chat. I'd been minding my own business, simply driving in the road, not breaking any laws--not even speeding (and, in Maryland, that's pretty notable)--and this asshole wasn't paying attention and hit me and now I'd have to pay a $500 deductible. Because of his negligence and irresponsibility, not to mention his inability to own up to what he'd done.
F-i-l returned to 7-11 to put the plate where he'd found it and told me to wait for the officer. He arrived a few minutes later. The first thing he said after looking at the side of my car: "You're clearly not going to be at fault here."
I recounted to him what had happened and discovered that the guy who hit me had driven home and called in the accident from there. So he was on his way back now; in the meantime, the officer would take down my information.
He assured me that when the guy arrived, he would not let him leave until checking him out and making sure that he was fully insured. F-i-l reappeared in the meantime, license plate in hand. He and the officer started talking and discovered that they knew a lot of the same police officers in the city. F-i-l pointed at me and said, "She's in law enforcement too. She's our statistician."
That was the point where the other guy--no matter what--officially lost any chance he had. Law enforcement takes care of law enforcement.
Finally, the other guy arrived, driving a car different from the one in which he'd hit me, claiming it was not driveable. (He'd had no problem hightailing it out of 7-11 after hitting me, however.) He was an older guy, about 60, and dressed in pajamas and bedroom slippers. His hair was tousled. He'd clearly just rolled out of bed.
The officer greeted him with "Before we begin, I want to make one thing perfectly clear: You are at fault here. Do you understand that?"
The guy started stammering about how he didn't understand how that could be the case. He hadn't seen me. (Okay, so I need to drive now on the contingency that someone can't see my car-sized car when it's ten feet away?) But the officer patiently explained that I was on the main thoroughfare, and that gave me right-of-way. By crashing into my side while pulling out of a driveway, my right-of-way had been taken. That put the other guy at fault.
Finally, he agreed.
The officer turned to me then and said, "Should I arrest him now or are you going to give him a chance?"
I didn't want anyone arrested. I wanted whoever hit me to own up to the deed; I wanted their insurance to pay. So I said that I didn't want him arrested, and the guy started, "Oh, thank you! Thank you!"
The officer also asked why he left the scene. "Well, I waited for a couple of minutes," the guy said, "and she never showed up. So I drove around but I couldn't find her."
7-11 is less than a block from Merchants. It probably took me a minute to pull over my car, shut it off, look at the damage, and mentally scream. It probably took another minute to walk to 7-11. There was no sign of the guy, after only two minutes.
The officer started taking down the guy's information, and the guy took my f-i-l to the side. (Mind you, he had no idea that we were related. He thought he was just another cop on the scene.) I could overhear what they were saying, even though it was pretty clear that he was trying to keep it from me. (I can hear pretty well...when I want to!) The guy said to my f-i-l, "She must have been really flying down the road to come up on me that fast. I really didn't see her!"
Okay, so first you try to pawn off blame on me because you didn't see me? Now I was speeding, so it's my fault?
But f-i-l had my back. He looked at the guy and said, "That's impossible. She was coming from her skating class. She'd turned onto the street less than a block up that way, out of the skating rink. There was no way that she could have gotten that kind of speed in such short time."
The guy looked at him, alarmed, and said, "Who are you?"
Oops. *evil cackle*
(For the record, I drive a four-cylinder Suzuki Esteem, not a Lamborghini. I believe that it is actually impossible for me to accelerate beyond twenty-five miles per hour over less than a block.)
After the officer finished copying all the information, he gave me a copy with instructions on what to do and left. The guy who hit me was asking which car was mine (because it was across the parking lot), and so f-i-l said, "Come look at it. See what happened to it" (since the guy claimed he couldn't really remember hitting me).
My car is ripped down the entire right side. The scratches start at my right tire and deepen all the way to the rear tire. My doors are crumpled and won't close properly; the whole side of the car will have to be replaced. It looks nasty. When we walked up to the car, the guy stopped and stared at it. He said, "Who hit you? They sure did a number on you!"
F-i-l and I stood in stunned silence for a good two seconds before he retorted, "You hit her! You did that!"
F-i-l has a theory on the guy: He doesn't think he was the driver. He showed up in pajamas. He showed up in a different car. He knew nothing about the accident; he knew nothing about me. Now, after he hit me, I did not simply disappear. It took several seconds to get control of my car and pull to the side of the road. Yet he didn't even know the color of the car I was driving.
It was fairly obvious where I had gone, and it took me two minutes to walk back to the accident scene. But whoever hit me was gone. No sign of him.
If the guy did hit me, then he doesn't belong driving. He claims never to have seen my car, even after he sent me spinning across the road. He claims to have waited for me, but clearly, he did not. If he was driving, then he lacks the eyesight and mental capacities to operate a car. We showed him a damaged car, and he didn't know that he'd done it. After sending me skidding across the road and tearing off his own bumper.
We think that whoever hit me sent him to take the rap--maybe the person didn't have insurance or was driving on a suspended license already--and only owned up when it became fairly clear that we would find him, since we had his license plate.
Anyway, because whoever hit both of my right-side tires, f-i-l didn't trust me driving home on the Beltway. Neither did I; the last thing I needed was a blowout and another accident on the way home. So I followed him back to my inlaws' house and Bobby met us there. We took care of the calls to the insurance companies and everything. (I had to get nasty with the guy's claims adjustor; the bitch had the nerve to cop an attitude with me after her client hit me! I am becoming a Not-So-Nice Person, I fear.) My car was towed from my inlaws' house to a shop this morning, and I am picking up a rental car this afternoon.
I haven't had any pain...yet. These things can take a few days to show up, but I think I'll be okay. (Given what I've been putting my body through at skating, this is nothing.)
I fear that my car is totaled. The way Esteems are built, the back quarter panel wraps all the way to the front of the car. All of that will have to be replaced. Both doors will have to be replaced. I need a whole new right side.
Bobby had to have a quarter panel replaced on his Esteem once, after a woman hit him in a parking lot, and it cost $2500. I don't think my car is worth much more than $5000.
I could be wrong...but my instincts are telling me that I drove my little Esteem for the last time yesterday.
Still...cars can be replaced. I am fine; the other guy is fine; that is what is important. (Although I must admit to being pissed: My first thought was to walk up to 7-11 to make sure that he was okay. I didn't even bother rooting for insurance information; I wanted to be sure that he was okay. And he didn't even have the decency to stick around and do the same for me. I could have been really injured...but he didn't stick around to see.)
Also, had I skidded into the cars waiting at the intersection at Rossville Boulevard like I feared, I probably would not be fine. Or someone else wouldn't be fine. And it would be a typical instance of the asshole who caused the accident walking away while the person who only wanted to go home, have lunch with her husband, and listen to her Skating Songs playlist with the wind in her hair would be in the hospital.
After the whole incident, the only things wrong with me: My hip hurts. (Nothing new.) And while hoofing it up and down the street, I got a bit of a sunburn. It could be much worse.