Tuesday, December 19, 2017

After you get a tattoo, I recommend getting hit by an uninsured motorist


My mom flew in for a visit on December 7th. She was here until the 16th. The first few days of the visit went swimmingly. We attended a festive Holiday Pops concert at a local theater on Friday. The next morning, she and I headed to my favorite (well, only) tattoo artist lady. We got matching tattoos of Bobby Shafto from the Richard Scarry Mother Goose book. When we got to the shop, I opted to go first. I wanted to get it done so that I could run to a nearby shop and do a little Christmas shopping while my mom was getting inked. About an hour and a half after I climbed into the orange tattoo chair, Bobby Shafto came to life on my left ankle, forever waving to his love on the shore as he embarks on his sea voyage.

Then, it was my mom's turn. She got situated in the orange chair and Tara got started with the needle. The look on my mom's face put me in a bit of a panic. Clearly she was not expecting this level of discomfort. I was worried that she'd bail on the process and then be left with a couple of random (and very definitely permanent) black marks on her leg. "Keep breathing," I suggested. "In through the nose and out through the mouth." She gave me a look that made me wonder if she was thinking of taking away my ability to breathe permanently.

By mid afternoon, we had matching tattoos. My mom was glad she did it - just a little surprised at how sharp the pain is. It's very difficult to describe the pain of a tattoo until you've had one.

Later that evening, we headed to the annual winter concert for the city choir of which my daughter is a part. It was a beautiful show and made all of the driving to/from rehearsals worthwhile.

Sunday was when things took a turn. The kid and I headed to church that morning. My mom wasn't up for it as she was tired from being dragged all over town by her daughter. After church, the kid and I drove home and grabbed a quick lunch before heading out again - this time, with my mom in tow. We had 1:00 tickets for a Christmas show about 30 minutes from home. I bought the tickets back in October to make sure we had great seats (fourth row). I'd been looking forward to the show since then. At a few minutes past noon, I was running out of time to finish my sandwich so I threw it in a baggie and we headed out.

Just steps from my house, there is a fairly sharp curve in the road. The neighbors who live on that curve mostly hate the damn thing. Drivers tend to miss the curve and take out mailboxes. People drive far too fast coming through there. I rounded the curve and straightened my wheel. After the curve, the road is a straight shot until the next intersection. I could see a white car coming towards me from the other direction. As he got closer, I could see that the car was moving way too fast and would never make the curve. There was a little bit of snow on the ground from a recent snowfall. This was a residential street with no shoulders, nowhere to go. As the white car crossed over the yellow line and came right towards our car, the best I could do was to brake and bank right into what little space was available there.

The impact came immediately, hard and fast. The white car hit my Equinox head on, forcing my car to jump the curb and plow into a mailbox post. The three of us were stunned. I had a jumble of thoughts all at once: Was my baby okay? My mom? Why hadn't the airbag deployed? We were going to miss the show. I started to exit the vehicle. The bulk of the impact came on the driver's side (head-on for the other car). The metal crunched as I struggled to open the door. I tried to make eye contact with the other driver. He looked young. Maybe 20-22, with dark hair. Skinny. Suddenly, he threw his car in reverse, backed up, and then drove forward. He looked up at me and held up one finger as if to say, "One minute. I'll be back in one minute."

Meanwhile, one of my neighbors ran outside in her bare feet and yelled, "GET HIM, STUART!" at another neighbor, who happens to be a retired police officer. Stuart jumped in his Jeep and drove after the kid. Moments later, the white car (with its wrecked front end) and the Jeep came back to the accident scene. I'm not sure if the kid was going to come back anyway, but I appreciated that my neighbors were so quick to pitch in. To be honest, the mister and I tend to stick to ourselves so I felt especially grateful that they came to our rescue even without knowing us very well.

I called my husband and then called 911. Or at least I think I did. It's a bit of a blur. My attention turned to my daughter, who was crying her eyes out and shaking. She was physically okay but was inconsolable. At the moment of impact, her first words were, "Mom! Are you okay? Are you okay?" I get on her case about being self-absorbed, but she really is a caring person when it comes right down to it.

While we were waiting for the police to come, my ex-cop neighbor guided me into taking photos of the accident scene. The snow told the whole story - the tire tracks from the other car crossed WAY over the line and headed straight for my car, which was currently in rough shape. The windshield washer fluid tank had been punctured and was spewing the blue stuff into the snow. The front wheel on the driver's side was bent inward, meaning the car could not be driven. The people whose mailbox had been hit were standing in their driveway. I felt bad for them.

Meanwhile, my mom and daughter were ushered into my neighbor's Jeep so that they could keep warm. My daughter had stopped crying by then. I was glad we were mostly uninjured. My neck hurt from my head snapping to the right when the impact happened. My mom was developing bruises from her seat belt. My daughter had been sitting behind my mom. I was glad that the point of impact was on my side instead of theirs.

I could hear the kid who hit me wailing about how he doesn't have insurance and is screwed. Honestly, I might have felt a little bit sorry for him (I mean, he is young, and young people make mistakes) if he had not tried to leave the scene of the accident. That was the part that seemed unforgivable to me. Apparently, he had been driving his girlfriend's car. She walked up to the scene and read her boyfriend the riot act. She then surveyed the damage to my car and apologized. She was crying, so I gave her a hug. She seemed nice. I felt like telling her that as far as boyfriends go, she could do better.

The police came and made their report. The other driver was given tickets for no insurance, and for driving too fast for conditions. Much to my surprise, he was not ticketed for leaving the scene. After the police were done, we managed to pull my car off the broken mailbox post and pushed it so that it was parked near the curb.

Still stunned, I walked home and started the claims process with my insurance company. They said that a tow company would come in a day or so to get my car and haul it to a certified collision center. The rest of the day passed pretty quietly.  Our day had been ruined, but I decided to give my mom her Christmas gifts just to lighten the mood a little.

At around 7:30, I took a shower and put my pajamas on. At just after 8, I heard a hard knock at the door. I didn't plan to answer it but thought I'd better check the peephole. It was the neighbor who had run outside in her bare feet eight hours earlier. "Your car's been hit again," she said. I was having trouble processing what she was saying. Nonetheless, I got dressed, threw a hat on my head, grabbed my license and phone, and walked back over to where my car was.  The tow truck, clearly, had not come for it yet.

I saw another car attached to the back of my car on the driver's side. A young woman was nervously pacing and puffing on a cigarette. "My insurance was just canceled," she said. "And now I'll probably be fucking sued."

I'd had a couple of drinks that evening in order to calm my anxiety after the first accident. This may be why I was relatively calm at the second accident scene. It was just surreal at that point. I basically just stood on the periphery and waited for everything to be done. I did have one bitchy moment. In talking to the police officer, it started to sound like the driver wasn't going to be charged with anything. I asked, "Shouldn't she at least be charged for driving with no insurance? This is the second time today I've been hit!"

"I'm getting to that," he said. He looked annoyed. He then had me exchange contact information with the chick who plowed into my car. Before he left, he asked me to confirm that my name is Claudette. Okay, whatever. I was just over the whole scene.

I walked back home through the snow and called Allstate again. I had to file a second claim. The woman who took my claim could not believe what she was hearing. Twice in one day?! At about the same time, I realized that I'd lost my driver's license in the snow after the second accident. The next morning, it dawned on me that the missing driver's license was going to cause a big problem. First, I called the collision center and suggested that they tow the car sooner than later. I wasn't at all convinced that it wouldn't be hit again. Next, I called Enterprise to find out about the rental car. They informed me that it would be a no-go without the physical driver's license even if I could supply the license number and proof that it was valid.

It was at this point that I finally lost it. I burst into tears and called my husband. I really did not know what to do at that point. He came home from work and searched the road between our house and the accident in hopes of finding my license. I had done so as well. We gave up and he carted me over to the DMV. I had been crying all morning, so you can just imagine how sexy I look in my new driver's license photo.

Once we had the license, we headed to Enterprise (the insurance company works directly with Enterprise, so using this company seemed like the easiest way to go). They didn't have any cars in stock. At all. Honestly, at that point I wasn't even surprised. They told us to come back at 2:30, so we did. I am not sure how they had no cars at 10:30 and a full assortment at 2:30, but logic means nothing to me anymore. I ended up renting a Hyundai Veloster. It's a weird little car. It has one door on the driver's side and two on the passenger's side.

The accidents happened on a Sunday. By Wednesday, I'd received the verdict: my car was totaled. Now I'm just waiting for the paperwork to finish churning. Allstate will pay off the lien holder and then send me what's left, which I will use as a down payment on a new vehicle. I test drove a car last night and have decided to buy it. I decided to go with another Equinox. I really liked the car that was demolished. And, of course, I had just spent $250 on the brakes (a mere six days before it was hit). The new one has a couple of features that the old one didn't have, like rear camera and remote start.

Once my mom and I were mostly over the shock of the car accident, we made the best of our time together for the rest of the week. We attended a school choir concert (my kiddo had a solo) and visited a cat sanctuary. We went out for Ethiopian on Friday night.

There's a whole other sub-plot to this story. It involves my husband's car and a flat tire and a harrowing experience on a busy road. However, I've decided to suppress the memory for now and just focus on the fact that we are physically okay and that I will have a car shortly. My daughter has struggled a bit since the accident. She's afraid to walk to the bus stop because she thinks a car may come careening down the road and wipe her out.

After so many crappy things had happened in a row, I'd started to wonder if I was cursed or something.  I got a salad from a grocery store salad bar the other day. When I saw that they had my favorite dressing available, for a second there I wasn't even convinced that I deserved the good fortune brought about by balsamic vinaigrette.




No comments: