Mama Sled says, stay out of parking lots.
I was backing out of a cramped space at the vet’s, departing a routine but overdue checkup for Mr. Ferguson, when a moaning sound made me hit the brake, realizing sickeningly that I had just broken a 34-year streak of not being at fault in a vehicular prang. The victim, a fucking huge Jeep Wrangler, had parked after me and there wasn’t much space to maneuver, but there it was: I was the only one on deck and I had left a long scrape in the paint. I tossed my car (which had suffered injury so slight that one of those touch-up mascara tubes seemed the only sensible solution), realizing with panicky astonishment that for once in my lifetime I couldn’t lay hands on my insurance card, and left my business card under the Jeep’s wiper instead, with a note. Mr. Ferguson was not amused. If you have cats, you will know why I didn’t go back in the waiting room and ask whose car it was.
The owner called me barely a half hour after I got home. He was courteous and said it looked like nothing more than a paint-shop job, giving his name as Lusk. I had an insane moment of free association:
If you are not a Jack the Ripper geek, that is an image of the note sent to one of the activists monitoring the case on behalf of the “Whitechapel Vigilance Committee,” accompanied by an indisputable section of one of the victim’s kidneys, and subscribed “Catch me when you can, Mister Lusk.”
I opted for a less antisocial stance and offered my insurance information. Later I called the Allstate people.
First I talked to a robot lady who kept coaching me to tell her what I needed and then saying “I didn’t get that.” Next a nice man in Bangalore, speaking in melodious Bombay Welsh, told me I was in good hands with Allstate but apparently could not hear me from half way across the world and hung up. My local agent couldn’t help me, and when I finally got past the robot and Bangalore a pleasant pink-collar American lady with a friendly demeanor couldn’t log in my account of the incident because someone else was apparently talking to Mister Lusk’s insurance company at that very minute and the file was “in use.” The joys of the digital age.
I finally got things squared away on the fifth call. About that point I was thinking about dissecting someone’s kidney. But the moment had passed.