Archive for June 14th, 2010

We had a simply smashing day last week – one that I am still trying to digest. It started late, around 11:00 PM, when I, while half asleep at the blinking TV set, startled to the sound of grinding, tearing, screeching metal, and the rain of broken glass outside my front door. Then came the hurried cacophony of panicked voices.

I raced to open my door just in time to see the backside of some man sprinting off down the street, while a woman coolly opened the trunk of a car, and took out a backpack. As I yelled for them to stay there, she loped off after the first man.  A second man was at the driver’s side of the same car.

Several things happened pretty rapidly.  I woke my husband, and told him to grab his camera.  I called the police and three squad cars arrived, the first, while I was on the phone. Shortly after that a fire truck and ambulance arrived. Amazingly, though he was probably not the driver, the second man did stay at the scene, eventually to be handcuffed, then sent in the ambulance for observation, and though not his, did provide insurance to the police.  Considering the vehicular carnage that had been committed, it was even more amazing that no one was hurt.

We live in the middle of a suburban block. Yet somehow, after turning onto our street, the driver had managed to, in the distance of approximately 75 feet, gather enough acceleration to:

submarine his car into and under my husband’s company owned, parked, half ton Chevy truck and demolish his 1995 Acura Integra right up to the windshield;

break his windshield, as no airbags deployed;

destroy the bumper, one panel on the bed, one taillight, at least one shock and attachment of the truck, push the truck bed into the cab and possibly tweak the chassis, (we will know more after it gets towed to the garage for an estimate.)

push the aforementioned truck into our parked 1998 Eagle Talon, thereby destroying the truck’s front bumper, grill and a headlight;

decimate the back end and side panel of our Talon;

push the front end of the Talon into our parked Tioga RV smashing the Talon bumper;

push the RV trailer hitch through the same bumper of the Talon (we haven’t pulled them apart yet, so we don’t know what horrors might be inside.), and;

dent the RV bumper, (possibly tweaking the hitch and attachment.)

In sum, one drunk totaled two and possibly three vehicles, including his/her own and damaged another.  Based on the skid marks we saw the next day, it appeared as though the driver had actually aimed for and hit the curb, just before hitting the truck. Absent the parked vehicles, the driver would have hit a 50-year-old street tree, with probable worse personal consequences.

It turns out that the Acura did have valid insurance. So, now we are working our way through three different insurance companies, claims, assessments, and soon, estimates. Probably the Talon is totaled. Though we had kept it maintained and just put in a new timing belt and installed new tires, it is a twelve-year-old car. The 2007 company truck might be totaled, depending on whether they find chassis damage.

It looks as though the RV might be my errand vehicle for a while- not the greenest, or most gas efficient way to grocery shop. My husband found that all the fleet vehicles but his were insured for rental car coverage. It took some argument to get his company to give him another fleet vehicle. Since a fleet car is promised as part of his benefit, he wasn’t about to rent a car on his own.

I find myself bemused over my response to this turn of events.  I am sad, but removed over the loss of the Talon. It was a nice vintage car with relatively low mileage, and I was thinking of giving it to my granddaughter for her graduation next year. The policewoman at the scene commented over how calm my husband and I were.  I too think I ought to be angry, especially in light of the alcohol involved, and yet I find I am not.

Instead, I am grateful that the police came, that there was insurance, that no one was hurt. I am also grateful that California mandates valid insurance as part of their vehicle registration process. I think the State’s mandate increased the likelihood that this accident would be insured, even if it turns out not to cover everything.

A smash up like this is a financial injury. An accident like this steals time in coordination and calls, etc. I suspect something is wrong when I treat this accident just another event in the day, and when I am grateful that some things, like insurance processes, appear to be working, rather than expecting that they will. It’s a blasé response, an implied personal acceptance of less.

Our little trouble is a grain of sand compared to the death and destruction happening in the Gulf right now. I am daily easily enraged and saddened by floating acres of poison in the water.  I wonder though, if in becoming desensitized to those little troubles, I don’t participate in a different lowering of the bar.  Maybe I ought to actually do something, like get all my neighbors, who came out to see the mangled metal that night, involved in petitioning for a road bump. Or two.

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