Bad Things Happen To Good People

2011 started off on so many high notes. This website was alive and kicking, shows which were banked for so long were finally thrust upon the public, a new show was recorded and posted the first week, and all we had talked about for so long had finally become a reality.   As is the law of the universe, every high is undercut by a low. On my way to Andrew‘s house to record a new show on Wednesday, January 12, the lows began.

I wil do my best to illustrate this so you all can picture it.  I’m driving North in the right lane of a two lane Northbound road when a car turns into the left lane as he pulls out from a gas station about fifty feet from my car on the Northbound side.  Take a moment to reread that if it doesn’t quite compute.  From the left lane, he puts his right turn signal on and begins to turn right, oblivious to the fact I was approaching on his right.  After weighing my options within a millisecond of realizing what’s happening, I aim for a telephone pole on the corner of the street he is turning on to avoid crashing into his passenger side.  Snow was gathered around the telephone pole from the plows which swept through the town after a storm the previous night, so the impact was somewhat cushioned, but still intense enough for me to drive the passenger side of my car into the pole hard enough so I stopped when the pole collided with my right front tire.  I emerged from the accident unscathed and fuming with anger as the other driver comes to a stop, rolls down his window, and queries “What happened?”  The police were called, statements were given, and the other guy went home with a ticket.  My car was towed and no show was recorded that night.

In early December 2010, I switched my car insurance coverage after my parents’ car insurance agent offered me a better insurance rate.  I’m sorry to say it meant I would be giving up collision insurance and rental car coverage, which I only found out I no longer had when I called them to report my accident.  This now meant paying for a rental car out of my own pocket while the other guy’s insurance company conducted their investigation.  I rented a car hoping this would be swiftly resolved.  Five days after the accident, I get a call from the claims adjuster saying my car is too damaged and has to be totalled out.  I had only recently paid the car off and now I had to start all over again because some jackass can’t follow basic traffic courtesy?  I was mortified.

Finally, after nine days and two different insurance reps handling the claim, I had to turn the rental car in.  I simply couldn’t continue shelling money out for this car when I couldn’t get a straight answer about whether or not liability had been established.  Thankfully, my parents are retired, so I was able to use their car, but even that wouldn’t be so simple.

As I’m backing out of a parking spot after finishing work for the day, a car runs along the rear bumper of my parents’ car.  My front headlights be even with the bumper of the car parked next to me and even though it was daylight and I was driving a black car, somehow the woman didn’t see me.  My bumper was scratched and her rear passenger door had black paint scrapes on it.  Coincidentally, she was driving her mother’s car so she was as panicked as I was.  Despite not wanting to exchange insurance information and file a claim, she called the police to report it.  We both calmed down by the time he got there and told the officer we just didn’t see each other and that was that.  He ran our ID’s, gave us our slips with the incident report information on it if we wanted a copy for ourselves, and we all parted ways, no tickets issued.  Two days later, I get an envelope from that township’s police department.  Despite only reviewing our information and not taking any statements, Officer Schitpherbranes issued me a carless driving ticket.  Swell.  Now I had to go to court for that in addition to the summons I received because the guy who caused me to crash my car was challenging his ticket as well.  Days after this parking lot incident, I ran over a pothole while driving home, causing $400 worth of damage to my parents’ car.  All this mayhem and still no answer about whether his insurance is accepting liability for my accident.

Jackass from Accident #1 ended up changing his plea to guilty and I was out of court in minutes.  When I made my appearance to plead “Not Guilty” to my ticket, the woman who collidied with me showed up and spoke to the prosecuter, who offered me a reduction to a non-moving violation with a $50 fine.  She didn’t speak to me (possibly out of guilt) but I am grateful she made an appearance and agreed to my violation getting reduced.  It ended up costing me $89 after the standard court costs.

After what felt like an eternity (but was three months in reality), Jackass’ insurance accepted 100% liability and paid me the assessed value of my car.  The awesome people at Tilton Body Works in Lakewood (where my car was towed the night of the accident) repaired the damage to my car, making it good as new for less than what I was paid by the insurance company.  In the end, Jackass’ insurance only reimbursed me for the daily rental fees and not for the mandatory rental insurance and tax, so I ended up paying $346 of the rental car costs.  Seeing how I saved Jackass some potential medical bills and most certainly a further insurance hike if his car had to be repaired if I hit him instead of aiming at the telephone pole, I tried contacting him several times asking him to reimburse me the $346 since it was the right thing to do.  I never heard from him.

So what’s the point of all this?  Bad things happen.  Sometimes, no matter what you do, someone else (or two other people) do the wrong thing and you end up with the short end of the stick.  There was never a time when I completely lost my cool during that three months.  It was stressful at many points, but I refused to let it bring me down and ruin any other area of my life.  The website and shows carried on, I only missed one day of work (the day after Accident #1), and my life was overall normal.

As Winston Churchill said, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” If you feel like the world is against you, keep pushing through to the other side of that pain.  You’ll be stronger for it in the end.  You may not always have control over your circumstances, but you have absolute control over how you handle them.  Sure, I spent over $800 on automobile-related incidents over three months, but I walked away without so much as a scratch and I am incredibly grateful for that as well as having understanding parents who will let me borrow their car for ten weeks.  Take stock of what is going right for you during the tough days and those tough days will move further away from you.

Besides, sometimes, you can turn stories like that into a blog.