We've all been involved in car accidents at one time or another in our lives. If you've never been in one, congratulations, you must be a perfect human being and live life in the slow lane. The rest of us are normal. None of us leave home, in the morning, thinking we're going to be in an accident, but we have insurance anyway because the law says we do.
I was listening to a Jim Ladd air check on SiriusXM Deep Tracks, which Al Levine recorded for me. Jim is that last of dying breed, the only true DJ left on the air that can play what he wants.
Anyway, I enter the parking lot, at work. I slowed down at the stop line. Out of the corner of my eye, I see a big white SUV coming my way.
I had the right of way. I was not going fast. Yet, this yutz, driving the SUV, proceeds to hit my car on the passenger side fender and door. He hit me so hard that a piece of his front bumper wedged in between my tire and wheel. I tugged at it, but it wasn't moving.
The yutz gets out of his car, with not an apology, but yelling at me for going too fast! I tell him I had the right of way. I was slowing down to stop at the line a few feet in front of me. He was head into the parking spot and just decided to drive forward without looking to see if anyone was coming.
Had I been so inclined to argue, I would have ripped him a new one. Instead, I just told him I was calling the police and ignored him from there. Then I texted my boss and told him I was in the parking lot, had an accident and was going to be late. The last call was to my insurance company; the woman at Allstate was terrific. Her first question was, "Are you okay?" I really appreciated that.
When the police show up, I'm in the middle of the call with Allstate. The police talk to us, me and the yutz, briefly. They take license, registration and insurance cards. I explain the cards are old, but the insurance is still good. No problem the officer says.
Back to the Allstate call, after I give my account of the accident, the customer service representative transfers to someone else to make an appointment at the Allstate Drive-In Claim center, a few minutes from my house. I make it for Tuesday at 12 pm.
The accident happened at 10:20 pm. I'm at work by 10:55 pm. The insurance calls made. Still, I'm still steaming. One of my friends, at work, tells me I'm rather red in the face. I should relax for a bit.
I can tell my blood pressure is still high from having to deal with the yutz. I still can't believe that he blamed me for an accident he caused. With any luck, Allstate will win their subrogation, get back my $400 deductible and the almost $3000 repair bill.
On Tuesday, I meet with Paul, at the Allstate Drive In. He's a nice fellow that goes out of his way to make me feel comfortable. He explains what he's doing and how the process works. As I went through this one other time, I knew what I had to do.
Paul gives me a cheque for almost $3500 made out to me. He says I can just sign it over to the body shop if I want to. That's my next stop, Wantagh Auto Body, which I've used in the past. I had called one of the owners, Mark, the day before and told him what happened and that I would be coming by on Tuesday.
I show up around 1 pm; Mark is just getting back from lunch. He looks at the estimate and the car, but finds a mistake that Paul made. He accidentally put in 25 hours for one of the repairs instead of 2.5 hours. Whoops, that's a $1000 mistake. Mark says he'll call Paul and get it straightened out.
We look at the car. Mark says he can't allow me to drive it just from seeing the bumper shard in the wheel. He also notices the same thing Paul did, which was the wheel tilted, slightly. That's a sure sign of suspension damage. Mark calls Enterprise car rental, which is a few minutes away, and yes, they do come to pick me up.
The bonus is that Katrina, a trainee at Enterprise, is cute. She had called the house Sunday afternoon and left a message about my needing a car. I didn't have a chance to tell Marcy about the accident, so she didn't understand the phone call.
They have two types of cars on the lot, BMWs and a Volvo. I chose the Volvo because I knew the BMWs would be more than the $50 per day that Allstate allows for a rental. They try to get me to pay "the difference," but I refuse, telling them that I'm going to have the car for two weeks and I don't want to pay anything. The manager tells Katrina, “Just get the car off the lot.”
I couldn't believe how he said it. It was so condescending to both Katrina and me. If there had been another manager on-site, I would have complained about it.
Then the hard sell for the optional insurance comes and, again, I refuse it all. First, she offers the $30 a day option, which covers everything and I refuse that. Then she offers the $15 a day option, which I refuse as well. Allstate and my credit card would provide all the coverage I need.
She asks me if I have any questions about the car. I laugh and ask how to start it. My Mazda has the push button start, but the Volvo requires inserting the remote control into a slot under the push button.
I thank Katrina and drive off. I'm feeling a little tired and lightheaded. I need food now. I make a quick pit stop at Burrito Mariachi on the way home and have a couple of steak and chicken soft tacos, rice and beans. I feel much better and head on home.
I get a call later in the day from Paul, the Allstate claims fellow that issued me the cheque. He apologizes for his mistake on the estimate and I tell him it's no problem. He says he'll drop off a new check the next day and leave it in the mailbox. He ends up showing up Thursday afternoon and calls again to make sure I got the check.
Of course, on Friday, it snows and I have no snowbrush. I go to the body shop, but my car is already in the paint booth. Mark gets the snowbrush and my Peak Power Pack from the trunk. The he surprises me by saying that the car may be ready late Wednesday or Thursday morning. That's certainly better than two weeks.
When we first got the Mazda, the kids named it Debbie; the Magellan GPS was Maggie. Well, the girls will be together again this week. I really miss Debbie.
Matt Seinberg lives on Long Island, a few minutes east of New York City. He looks at everything around him and notices much. Somewhat less cynical than dyed in the wool New Yorkers, Seinberg believes those who don't see what he does like reading about what he sees and what it means to him. Seinberg columns revel in the silly little things of life and laughter as well as much well-directed anger at inept, foolish public officials. Mostly, Seinberg writes for those who laugh easily at their own foibles as well as those of others.
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