I’m An Excellent Driver
Really, I am.
I resisted getting a driver’s license until I was nineteen because I so loved my bicycle, and because I had to be a rebel. All my friends had gotten theirs years earlier. But since that day when I finally gave in and took the test, I have enjoyed a nearly spotless record.
Genuinely spotless, that is, until just a few weeks ago. That was when I lost control for, maybe, less than a second; and that’s all it takes. I was parking (I can parallel park like a demon.) and I was tired. I could probably have done it, but I changed my mind and, when I was pretty much all the way in, I decided: screw it. I’m gonna’ park somewhere else, where it’s easier. So I turned my head around and stepped on the gas, completely forgetting to put my white 2004 Dakota Quad-Cab with the V8 into drive.
The truck jerked back and I immediately jumped on the brake. I did not feel an impact with the truck behind me, but when I pulled away its owner, who just happened to be watching from his driveway, came out and told me that I had dented his bumper. My desire at that time was to be responsible for my actions, so despite not being able to see any damage on my truck at all, I presented my insurance information.
The thing is, I’m not sure I actually hit his truck. The dent he pointed to was about the size of a quarter and, looking back, I can’t really see how my truck at the angle it was could have even touched his car where the dent was. But I didn’t think of this at the time. I was pretty much at the mercy of my personal code of responsibility, and simply, stupidly resigned myself to the marring of my perfect record.
The guy started out talking to me like a man. We discussed simply taking care of it. I told him that I would pay for a new bumper, and he said he would see how much it cost and get back to me, which he did. $607 and change, I told him to go ahead and get it fixed and, in exchange for the receipt, I would pay him back. He said he would do that. But he didn’t.
That was when he started talking like a weasel. Instead of being good to his word, he got the price from the dealer and expected me to be happy with something other than a receipt. He hadn’t replaced the bumper. He stammered when he was talking to me. He started speaking bullshit. “It’s a receipt. It’s printed from a computer and everything.” he said.
“Sounds like what you’ve got there is a quote.” Honestly, why do people have to do this? If he had said that he simply wanted the cash in the first place, I wouldn’t have gone there, but at least he would still have his self-respect. So that’s when I called my insurance company.
The insurance company explained to me that in California the “victim” of an at-fault car crash is entitled to the insurance payout even if the “perpetrator” has made any other kind of deal. So if I had paid him he could have been paid again by my insurance company. So California drivers be warned: dealing with this sort of thing off the record could easily turn into something too nice for the “victim.” And if there’s anything that I’ve learned it’s that it doesn’t pay to be too nice.
Fast forward two weeks. My lovely, white, spotless, 2004 Quad-Cab Dodge Dakota with the V8 is parked, quietly minding its own business, not bothering anyone, in a public parking lot while I’m at work. I parked it there at noon on a Friday.
I left work around 7:00 pm to find this. Nice, eh? There’s a brewery nearby, so the best that anyone can figure is that some drunk asshole lost control of his (or her) vehicle while trying to park (or leave), smashed my truck, and drove away. You can see the tire track in the grass. It’s a little burnt, probably because the jackass spun the tires in his (or her) haste to get away. And wow, what a lesson: now I know how it’s done! None of this “leaving a tiny dent” bullshit. When you wreck something, wreck it like you mean it!
So, how about that? Ironic, no? I guess I’d be even more bummed if this $500 gift (that’s my deductible) had happened after paying the weasel six bills for his stupid bumper, but it’s not as though I’m jumping for joy.
I will try to remember that weasels and jackasses are actually the predominant breed of creatures in human society and not assume by default that the person I’m dealing with is trustworthy. It’s not as if I didn’t already have plenty of evidence. This really is an obvious lesson I should have learned long ago, but sometimes I’m just a dope that way.
But I am an excellent driver.
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- October 12, 2005 / 8:29 pm