Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Bumper Dimples: Good Luck Gone

Today I was in a wreck, if I could be ever so bold as to call it that. I'd just dropped Gracie at ballet and was on my way to the store with Bub when I bumped into the car ahead of me. We were on a right-turn yield lane to enter the frontage road. She was stopped, so I was stopped. She began ahead onto the frontage road, so I began ahead while looking left into oncoming traffic to see if I needed to yield. She stomped on her brakes, so I bumped her bumper. Literally, bumped her bumper.

She pulled over, and I followed. She opened her door and stood to scowl at me while furiously texting someone on her phone, and I got out to examine the damage. As I approached her car, I saw nothing, no damage at all. I asked her if she was OK, but that made her only scowl more furiously and text faster. I bent down and dusted off the dirt transfer from my car, and still saw no damage. But then, there it was -- I felt it as I dusted off the dirt. The little bolt from my front licence plate dimpled her bumper. That was it. No cracks, no scratches -- a circular indention and nothing more.

I stood to her furious texting to ask if she wanted to come see the damage, but she still would not reply to my queries and she had the most terrible look on her face that I had ever seen, literally. I know that people make fun of an inappropriate use of the word "literally," but I mean it. This was actually, and without exaggeration or inaccuracy, the worst look I'd ever seen on anyone's face in person. (I saw a movie once where this little girl made the most horrible face over and over again, and was threatened that if someone smacked her on the back while she made the face, it would stick like that. She was smacked and her horrible little face stuck, but this woman's face was far worse. Maybe because she was a grown woman, not a nasty little child.)

When she continued to avoid answering me, and continued with such a nasty scowl, I thought maybe something was terribly wrong with her, like maybe she was having a stroke or something. I asked her again, this time with more force, "Ma'am, are you okay?" My concern seemed to perturb her further. She huffed a bit and puffed a bit and snorted back, "Yes, I'm fine." The scowl never let up. At that point, I realized this dimple on her car was quite possible the worst thing that had ever happened in her life. It took all I had to not sit her down for a lesson in life and to introduce a wee bit of perspective.

I restrained myself and didn't even share one moment of woe, but instead told her all the damage I could see was the little dimple. She insisted there was damage to the sides of her car also, but I reminded her that I bumped the back of her car and got no where near the sides. She said she was calling the police. "That's fine," I said, "or I could just give you my insurance information." She insisted she wanted this whole incident on record. She dialed 911, and I turned to get my insurance verification out of the car. It was then that I realized my car suffered an extensive amount of damage with paint flaking off the entire front bumper. I guess the impact somehow bent my bumper and a good bit of the paint across the front will not be sticking to the car for too long. The whole thing will have to be replaced. (Randi, weren't you commenting Monday on our long run of good car luck? Yeah, well apparently, that's over.)

When the policeman arrived, he looked her car over and then advised her she could (1) just take my insurance information and handle things privately, or (2) he could file a report. Though he's mid sentence, she jumped at that -- "Absolutely, I want a report!" He continued by explaining to her that Texas is a no-fault state, which means any accident report filed by the police goes on driving record of everyone involved in the accident. As she looked blankly at him and again stated that she wanted a report, I asked if she understood that could affect her insurance rates in the future.

"Well, that's fine," she says, "I still want a report. I don't want to get screwed." I explain to her, this time in front of the officer, that I have no intention of screwing her and that I would be willing to get on the phone with my insurance company and admit fault there on the street if she wanted to begin filing the claim right that moment. Nope, she was still insistant upon that report. The officer twice repeated the fact that the accident will go on her record (essentially making her as much at fault as me), but she's stuck to her guns, so he went back to his car to call the accident investigator to the scene.

That guy showed up, looked over the damage, and started again from square one with her. He once again explained the no-fault rule and the fact that her driving record would be blemished if she filed a report. He tried to get her to understand (without telling her what to do) that it would be better to process this privately, but she told him as she'd told everyone else -- that she wanted a police report filed regarding the dimple on her bumper. I then mentioned that both I and the other officer tried to explain it to her before and that I'd already offered to begin the claim with my insurance company there on the side of the road, but she'd not been interested.

Seriously, there was no getting through to her. I can understand her not wanting to take my word for it -- I'm a stranger who dimpled her bumper, so I must be wicked and conniving, and worthy of the very scowliest face and most unusually poor manners a human being can muster up. Beyond that, I guess I could maybe even understand her not wanting to take the advice of the first officer of the law who is sworn to serve and protect her on account of the fact that maybe he just didn't want the paperwork. But I would think by the second officer and third person in less than a half hour to say this is really not the best move for you, I personally would listen. Maybe ask a question or two. But that's just me apparently.

When the officer realized she was so determined, he got out his notepad, wrote down our licence and insurance information, made certain we had no warrants, and essentially sent her on her way. (He suggested she get my insurance information for herself, but I'd given her that between policemen.) She left with a report number and a damaged driving record. As she pulled away, the officer just shook his head and remarked that had we been in either big city just down the road, the police would have laughed at her for even requesting a report for such miniscule damage. I just feel bad because I don't think it connected within her brain that filing that report was not her best move, and will likely be something she'll regret for a long time to come.


  • The Dukes Family

    It was Phil! It's really his fault for mentioning the run of bad luck you previously had. I'm apologizing on his behalf. As for the woman ... wow. At first I thought she must simply be shell-shocked ... but apparently she's just simply rude. After the insistent filing of the report, it almost makes you hope her insurance rates shoot up ... I mean, one would feel that way if one were a lesser woman (which, clearly, neither of us are).

  • Elizabeth

    Oh my word! I think I would have slapped her right there. Unstinkingbelieveable! :-)

    Well, I'm sorry for her dimple. Love that it was a dimple. And sorry for your mangled bumper and flaking paint. Bumper, um I mean, bummer! :-)

  • taralynn819

    Sounds like she just wanted an excuse to remain bitter toward you (as if YOU caused her to need this report and YOU are making the cost of her insurance go up). From your story I gather she is most (if not solely) annoyed that you intruded upon her schedule, and she is making you "pay" by blaming you for the [retarded] choice she made to file the report and deal with all its consequences. It's her way of passing the blame and parading her self pity. Now if that's not prison shackles, I don't know what is!!! I applaud your ability to rise above the situation, although I deeply sympathize and understand it's not fun for you either. Boy, can we all learn (what not to do) from this woman!!!

  • Amanda

    Taralynn -- right, it was like she was going to show me for having the audacity to have an accident. My insurance rates were already (probably) going to raise because of the claims that would be filed against it, but by having the accident on record, her's could raise too. That just wouldn't sink into her brain! But the police thought she was silly, and I didn't get a ticket or anything. She sure showed me.

    As an update, the adjuster called this morning to say she's claimed a headache and neck pain from me rolling at into her at zero miles an hour. Apparently, insurance fraud is how she intends to pay for potential increases in her own rate.

  • The Dukes Family

    A headache and neck pain from the dimple??? That won't fly. Maybe that's what she was texting all that time: "good news, I'm about to cash in!" :)

  • Christy

    More likely neck pain and headache from constant texting... Maybe she should sue her cell phone provider!

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