The year was 2009. My nephew’s son had died that year — my brutally tragic indoctrination into the world of transportation safety — and I was going walkabout to study abroad down under.
To save money, I had decided to not renew my comprehensive, collision and uninsured motorist on my auto insurance policy. After all, the car was going to be in storage half of the year. What could go wrong?
In the six weeks between my insurance renewal date and my departure date for a semester abroad, almost everything went wrong!
First, I went to change lanes on the freeway to go around a slow moving semi and ended up in a head-on collision with some weekend mover’s lawn furniture that had been deposited haphazardly between the number three and four lanes of the 210. It took out my left front headlight assembly and front grill. I ended up spinning around in a full 360 across all lanes of traffic and stopping an inch away from the center k-rail. The cars directly behind me managed to come to a full stop about five deep and then a massive multi-car pile-up ensued behind that. I could hear the screech of brakes and the clang of metal meeting metal.
A few weeks later I was backing out of an angled parking spot at the mall when a 16-year-old girl, daddy’s credit card in hand, jumped into her mommy’s brand new Lexus, checked her hair in the mirror and plowed into me in reverse. Her mother’s insurance company did pay me $1,400 for the right rear quarter-panel and an alignment.
The very next week I was driving on the freeway at a long, sloping interchange in San Diego; an older Hispanic man came onto the same interchange. He left his lane and drifted into mine, the entire right side of my car was hit and he kept pushing me toward the interchange’s embankment. I was pushing back, honking and screaming.
It took him a moment to even register my presence (Drugs? Alcohol? Something else? I was never to find out); then he pulled back into his lane, looked my mangled car up and down, side mirror dangling by a wire; both door panels and front rear quarter panels fubar, and he mouthed at me “It’s alright. It’s OK,” before he took off like a bat out of hell! I gave chase and called 911. I told the dispatcher what was happening, and where he was going. I expected back-up.
The dispatcher told me I should stop following him because he may have a gun and could shoot me. I hung up and engaged in a full five minutes of primal screaming. I was enraged. Zachary was dead and absolutely no one was paying attention. No one cared. I had the license plate number and location of a hit and run perpetrator and even the cops couldn’t be bothered.
I filed the report the next day at the Highway Patrol station and two days later left for Australia. I never heard another word about it and was never vindicated in this particular incident.
When I returned from my semester abroad one of the first orders of business was a trip thru In-n-Out (boy-oh-boy did I miss American food!) I ordered my animal style double-double and chocolate shake. An ancient old woman pulled in behind me and plowed in to my rear end. I pulled up to the window to pay and looked in my rear-view mirror. I saw thin tufts of curly blue hair peeking over the steering wheel of the car behind me. And as I was paying for my food, she did it again! “Wham!” I didn’t even get out of my car. I took my food and drove away in my once pristine Toyota Camry that had somehow become a bumper car in the crazy, wacky, cosmic, karmic carnival of life.
Author’s Note: In my last story I reported that BofA refused to cash the (hopefully) first insurance check drawn on their bank. Apparently the number of fraud alerts on this shyster insurance company’s account caused the teller some concern. When I returned to the bank and identified myself as a columnist and began asking questions on the record, the manager was able to cash the check for me.
My next installment will identify my auto insurance, the other auto insurance company, and explore the pros and cons of legal minimum versus comp and collision insurance instruments.