The Daily Whim

The Daily Whim

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…

[1] 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.

[2] 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.

[3] 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)

Peanut Gallery

1  Mel wrote:

Oh Dude, I’m so sorry. What a horrible day. But yes, at least you weren’t hurt. Try and feel lucky for that. You dodged a bullet today.

Comment by Mel · 05/01/2004 07:01 PM
2  ruminator wrote:

Glad you’re OK man. That was pretty darned scary.

3  Reid wrote:

Thanks to both of you. I’m a bit calmer now than I was this afternoon.

And I have to say, I got quite a chuckle when I viewed this page to see your comments. The GoogleAds in the left column are chosen based on its interpretation of the page content.

Google clearly thinks this is a page about someone who had trouble stopping.

4  Greg Greene wrote:

Oi — what a day you had. Glad you came out okay. Of course, if you need a good lawyer ... ;)

5  John wrote:

Whew! Don’t do that again, OK?

6  Norbert Taylor wrote:

Wow. I’m glad to hear you’re all right, Reid!

Oh, and hi. :-) I just got back from a big ol’ bash for former MindSpring employees and it got me to thinking of the old newsgroup gang…. I didn’t know you’d been blogging.

Aside from yesterday’s unpleasantness I hope you’re doing well.

7  Matt McIrvin wrote:

Oh, man, I’m sorry to hear that.

A few weeks ago, a couple of days after starting a brand-new job, I got the right door panels of my car caved in by an 18-wheeler whose driver decided to change lanes (a) without looking and (b) in spite of the solid white line, in fairly heavy traffic weaving through a narrow slot in a construction zone. I got off easier than you did. I learned the lesson to stay out of a truck’s side blind spot in that situation, but it really shouldn’t have been necessary.

8  Reid wrote:

John: “Don’t do that again, OK?

If you’ll remember, it was a PixelPiler trend for a while.

Norbert: “I just got back from a big ol’ bash for former MindSpring employees and it got me to thinking of the old newsgroup gang

Norbert! I really thought about you guys, and the Good Ol’ Days, when I heard Charles was throwing a party for 700+ former Mindspring employees. And judging by the time stamp on your comment, Charles still throws a great party. I really used to enjoy the “family reunions” that Mindspring used to have for their customer “family.” I miss the entire Mindspring approach to business, as it is nearly non-existent today.

And Matt, your story about “an 18-wheeler whose driver decided to change lanes” sounds terribly familiar. That’s what happened to me in my last accident, way back in 1983. I ended up hitting the guardrail, and that time, I wasn’t wearing a seatbelt. Thus, the broken neck.

Sometimes you have to learn the hard way.

9  Rick wrote:

I feel your pain Reid. My car was totaled Thursday afternoon on my way home from work. I too escaped injury, but it still is one hell of an ordeal to go through. Good luck.

Comment by Rick · 05/02/2004 05:43 PM
10  rturner wrote:

Man, I just saw this and all I can think is hell, you’re alive and not crippled. How many times do I say, “I hate seatbelts, just running to the store….ahh but those damned Kennesaw cops’ll get me for sure”.

I’m sure glad you had them on. The rest’ll sort itself out. I got hit the same way back in the early seventies, no seatbelt, but a big old Chevy, caved in on the passenger side. It was pre-MADD Boston and the cop said, “the guy’s been drinking, but he’s a local truck driver and if you press charges he’ll lose his license.”

Wouldn’t want to press charges. To this day I creep through intersections. Here’s hoping I’ve learned enough from your post to have my seatbelt on too.

11  Reid wrote:

Rick, I’m glad to hear you’re OK. Yeah, it’s an ordeal and an aggravation, but at least we’re still able to deal with it. I think perhaps the worst of it is the anticipation that you might be thrust against your will into the ugly world of … car salesmen.


And Richard, I’ve developed an odd and arbitrary rule about going to the store. There is one small convenience store that I can pull out of our complex and drive about 25 yards to its entrance. If you leave your seat belt off, it doesn’t even have enough time to get to that “dinging” cycle it does when you leave it off.

But if you go past that store 25 yards outside the complex, at 50 yards is the stop light. And that’s my divider. Unless I’m going to that store, when I leave the complex, my seat belt is on, because I almost immediately encounter six lanes of potential idiots.

12  Mike wrote:

Glad you’re ok….

13  Jay wrote:

Ditto on the “glad you’re okay” thing. Maybe you should point the … gentleman … to your website and those Google ads for brake stuff.

How hard was it to type “gentleman” and not “jackass” throughout that post? ;)

Comment by Jay · 05/03/2004 08:49 AM

Hoo whee! Sounds like a fun weekend was had by all. Glad to see that you’re OK. Perhaps it was The God of the Road Trips giving you a not-so-subtle hint to finish the Mile High section? [smiley] Stay safe.

15  Patton wrote:


I’m glad to hear it mostly worked out, sorry to hear about the car and the insurance hell you’re entering, and glad to hear that even you, the apparent voice of calm and reason, were too hacked to even talk to the guy. I wonder how I’d do in such a situation, and can only hope to have done as well – I’d probably have considered choking the guy until he passed out.

I’m further glad to read your unqualified recommendation to wear the seatbelts – my youngest sister was nearly killed in an accident 15 years ago, spent 6 months in the hospital, and just got back from the Mayo clinic where she’s had her fourth hip replacement done.

Oddly, we were told after the accident by the Dr. that she’d probably have been thrown clear if she’d not been wearing her seatbelt. My response to the Dr. (since I had to be mad at someone, you see) was that unless he was both an engineer and present at the scene, he should shut his pie hole. While what he said could have been true, in much the same way that I COULD win the Lotto tomorrow, if anyone listened to him and took that path, their death could have been on his hands.

Best regards.

16  Stryker wrote:

Jesus, Reid, I’m glad you’re all right. Having been through the same thing myself (except my guy was driving a stolen vehicle), I know how much it can shake you up.

I’m especially glad you managed to maintain you’re composure, which must’ve been a Herculean feat. I chased the guy who hit me with an aluminum baseball bat that I kept in my backseat across three city-blocks before I came to my senses and went back to the accident scene.

17  Reid wrote:

Sarge, I’ve never met you, and have no idea what you look like, but I I can just see you running with that bat. Thanks for the morning chuckle.

Susan and I have talked about it since, and as bad as it was, it was the best case scenario. Because she almost went with me. That would have placed her in the passenger seat at the point of impact.

If that had been the case, and she was injured, yeah, the smart bet might have been “Reid goes to jail.” Because I always try to have a situational awareness … “Am I still in Dekalb County? Then I can get out of jail in 4 hours on a property bond.”

But as I said, the immediate aftermath of a wreck is not a rational time. It was tough enough as it was, and I can’t say for sure how I would have reacted if it had been worse.

18  Stryker wrote:

Well, I was 17 at the time. Nowadays, I’d probably just make a threatening gesture, grab my neck and start yelling, “Whiplash! Whiplash!”

But yeah, I know how pissed you can get in that situation. It’s a credit to yourself what you did, which was the smartest thing you could do. I don’t know if I could do that myself.

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