Sat. May 01, 2004
Crushed Metal and Morals
They say that accidents usually happen within a mile or two of your home. Which has always made me think, “maybe I should move somewhere safer.” But, it just follows you.
Today, a mere 1/4 mile from my residential parking space, I encountered the above theory. It doesn’t take much. I simply sat at a red light until it turned green, and then proceeded to cross the six lanes of Buford Highway. I made it through five of them. In lane six was a … gentleman … who apparently was either color blind, in a real hurry, or simply didn’t see the blaring red lights, as well as the several cars going through the intersection.
He certainly didn’t see me.
So I got t-boned by a car moving at about 35-40mph. Quite an interesting experience, but not one I’d recommend, as I’m damn lucky to come out unscratched. Yes, I’m fine. I saw the car in my peripheral vision just in time to try to brake and swerve left, but to no real effect. The car got thrown horizontally across three lanes, and I got banged around within the car by that force. I had my seat belt on, or else I probably would have been hurt pretty bad. As it was, I was slung hard against the seat belt mount on my right hip, with enough force that my hat and glasses were flung sideways off my head and ended up on the passenger side of the car. There was an odd puff of smoke and a burning smell in the interior that made me instinctively jump out of the car as soon as it had stopped, without even thinking. I later realized, that was caused by the passenger side air bag, popping out of the side of the seat.
After I got out of the car, I circled it to see the damage on the passenger side. It was ugly. Yes, the first thing I did was take out my camera. Frankly, I wasn’t certain the guy was going to stick around, and wanted a shot of him, his car and tag. But his car wasn’t where I had expected it to be. The force of the collision had knocked him sideways two lanes from where we’d hit, and me three lanes at a 90 degree angle.
It was a quite forcible impact. I really don’t think he even touched the brakes. He claimed they didn’t work. Not that I heard that claim myself. After I’d made sure the police were on the way, and called my wife, the … gentleman … came over and started to say something like “I’m sorry, man,” but I cut him off with “Let’s just let the cops deal with this when they get here,” and turned away. I was very angry, and though I’d had enough time to figure out I was shook up, but OK, I’d also had enough time to realize “you could have killed me, you jackass.”
And to keep that from coming out (and lots more), I refused to engage him at all. I knew I had an adrenaline rush going on, and rational acts can get scarce at a time like that. I took the only one I could, and waited for the cops to deal with the details.
Like the fact the … gentleman … had no insurance. Well, none that could be verified by the police officer. And an out-of-state driver’s license. But by golly, the tag on the car was brand spankin’ new! It was one of the new designs, and expired in March of 2005.
Gee, said the innocent law abiding citizen, don’t you have to have insurance to get a tag? And if you have insurance in March, shouldn’t you have it on May 1? Well, maybe so, but that has nothing to do with today.
He claims his insurance company is allegedly “Constitution Insurance,” which has no web site, and if you call their one findable number, you get nothing. A Google search for them reveals … lawsuits! But I’m sure we’ll talk more about them later. In a well searchable manner. Nearly certain of it.
I am bummed, and pissed, but it could have been a lot worse. I’m fine. The other guy didn’t get hurt, either. We are left with two ugly hunks of non-functional iron, and a rapid descent into the Hell that is know as “insurance claims.”
But here’s the worst part. In the popup picture above (“It was ugly”), see that black Ford Ranger pickup truck stopped at the red light? First of all, that’s exactly where I sat at the red light before this all happened, so you can see the relative position where the car ended up. Secondly, that’s my truck, being driven by my wife. As she will be doing for the foreseeable future … because I was driving her car when I got t-boned.
So the real trickle down impact of this mishap falls more on her than me, and between that guilt and the angry feeling of “the @#$x%x! could have killed me,” I’m left feeling a bit misshapened.
This is no way to spend a Saturday afternoon.
Morals of this story, dispensed freely…
 Seat belts save lives. If you don’t wear one, you are a Capital F Fool. Without one, I wouldn’t be typing this mere hours after the fact, I’d be tubed up in some ICU … begging for a laptop.
 Tomorrow is guaranteed to no one. I learned this long ago, in the last accident I was in … 1983, when I broke my neck. In this case, a simple trip to the store can result in violent forces being placed upon your body that you’d never anticipated. Not a damn thing you can do about it (except stay home … and hope it doesn’t burn or get hit by a falling satellite), except to know it. And act on it in the simplest of ways, like making sure you don’t go to bed or leave the door without telling your loved one(s), “I love you.” Should the worst happen, slim as the chances might be, wouldn’t you want those words to be the last thing they have to remember? Morbid? Maybe. Since 9/11, when thousands of people never got to say “I love you” again, I’ve been that way a bit.
 Get some freakin’ insurance, preferably with a company that has a web site or at least a phone number that works, or stay off the road! (or at least try to stop at the red lights … sheesh)