Neighborliness

This is just stupid.

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poor Lua-Vanessa

The Engineer’s office just moved, so instead of driving halfway around the Capital Beltway to some office park in the asshole of creation, he will be working downtown, near the subway hub. Boy Scout that he is, he asked if I would drop him at the subway the first morning, so that he’d be sure to be on time, after which I gather he plans to figure out the buses. So I poured cold water on my head and off we went.

I get to the nearest station by driving north on the four-lane divided that passes one side of my lot and hanging right at a signal in the middle of the nearby garden apartments. I don’t do it in the mornings, usually. This morning there seemed to be a  ridiculous number of people turning right a block before the signal, into a side street lined with parking bays, meaning people who lived there were trying to get out of their spaces, well, bottom line, bottleneck. I crawled forward inch by inch, riding the brake, until the last blivet in front of me managed to get himself into the side street (I later figured out this was an evasive cut-through used to avoid the traffic signal, because, horrors! How can you ask people to wait at a signal?). I took my foot off the brake and started to roll forward at about sven miles an hour, and

PRANGGGG!!! some random gobshite in a red pickup truck takes a right turn out of the left lane, athwart my bows, across the part of the asphalt I am already rolling into, his passenger-side rear tire hooking my front bumper so that it flies up in front of my eyes and then clatters back into the roadway.

I exit the car, shaking like Hitler in the last scenes of Downfall.

The Engineer gets out of his side.

The other driver gets out.

It is the ninety-three-year-old geezer who lives next door to me, the family who had the Oak of Damocles until I implored them to take it down, the ones that leave nastygrams on cars parked at my curb, yup, THOSE PEOPLE.

What have I done ever to them that these bozos have it in for me?

I don’t drive a lot; I’m a timid driver with bad eyesight and I know my limits. I haven’t been in a real accident — two cars moving, BANG! — since I was on my learner’s permit and an old babe in a beater sedan with four bald tires and a dead dog in the front seat passed me at forty in a 25-MPH zone over a double yellow, just as I was turning left. It was too eerily similar for words. (Yes, a dead dog. It’s a long story.) It just did for me. I tried to dial my auto insurance company while the Engineer called the cops, I got a non-working number message because my hands were shaking too badly to dial the number right, I finally got a robot that I started to scream at and then a live person on whom I melted down, and then the cop showed up, took information, handed the geezer a summons for making an unsafe turn, and loaded my bumper into my hatch.

Fortunately I can still drive her. I mean she goes. I’m not sure about me. No one hurt; that’s pretty big.

“I’m really sorry,” the old geezer kept saying.

“Maybe his family will stage an intervention,” mused the Engineer as we went the rest of the way to the Metro station.

I came home and drank an IPA, I don’t give a fuck what time of day it was. The adjuster is available on Wednesday to look over poor Lua-Vanessa Aspasia Himmelblau. As I understand it, the geezer’s insurance carries the full liability.

I’m going to go lie down now.

10 thoughts on “Neighborliness

  1. Last June 12, I was immobilised at a red light with two cars ahead of me. My son’s wife and two children in the car. The two cars in front of me were turning left so they waited for through traffic to go, well, through. As the light turned green a Ford f150 came up, the driver saw the light turning green and figured everybody would move…but nobody did. My rear end was smashed but nobody hurt. I does not settle your problems but at least you have company.
    Fortunately, up here, we have no fault insurance so everything was quicly settled. Our respective insurers dealt it between themselves…the other driver should have a nice premium raise.

    • That’s about what I’m thinking. You probably got more rattled up than I did really — the blow to my car was so oblique.

      My neighbor is horribly hearing impaired, among other things, and I am wondering if indeed this will be the point where he needs to stop driving (which would save on premiums and possibly yield proceeds from selling the truck). Some people never have to — I had a client who used to drive to the beach every summer at about the same age — but this is making me think hard about being honest with myself a few decades down the line.

      What is it about people who drive Ford pickups anyway?

  2. Glad you’re both OK. Whenever these things happen we say something worse was supposed to happen but the Universe decided to cut you a break.

    Anyway, you owe us explanations for not one, but two, dead dogs!!

    • Two?

      Well the first one (in 1971) was like this. I was on my learner’s permit — and I was so afraid to drive I had unknowingly hung onto it till it expired — with my father in the passenger seat. I should mention he was most likely drunk on his ass, as that was his normal state at the time but he was good at hiding it. I’m driving along a double-yellow minor arterial in North Arlington and about to turn left to go back to the primary road via a side street. Suddenly there is an old brown station wagon rocketing in front of me. I hit the rear fender. The car is going close to double the speed limit and manages to stop a block away. An aged, stumpy woman in an orange knit dress clumps back toward us, knocks on a door to ask for a phone to call cops, and stumps back out. A car full of kids from my high school crew team has pulled over, saying “We saw the accident and we learned in Driver Ed that you should stay and make a statement! We’ll fill out statements!” The harridan in the orange dress snarls “Hippies! They’re all hippies! I saw them wink at her!” (Remember, this is the CREW team.) A cop arrives and takes statements. The lady, whose last name was actually Husbands, which was just weird, kept insisting that I deliberately drove into her car and that she needed to get to Aspen Hill Pet Cemetery on the other side of town to bury her dog who was rolled up in a mat in the front seat. The cop asked for her license and so on. She didn’t have one on her, the registration was out of date and looked like it had been through the dog a time or two, and she had four bald tires. He would not allow her to proceed, so she had to pull over and park the car in the bright May sunshine with the dead dog and all, and wait for a friend… meanwhile I was of course having hysterics.

      She called the house and harassed us several times until the court date, where the judge essentially assigned equal fault. Not really fair, but insurance covered it.

      I didn’t go on to actually get a driver’s license until I was twenty-three. It just didn’t seem worth it.

  3. FFS. First, I’m glad you and the CE are not injured of course. Second, I know it’s such a shock to be in an accident. You just keep reliving it for a bit. I get that. It’s so good you have your exercise and meditation knowledge already. Third, it’s lucky you didn’t have a hit & run like I did in June. What a pain in the ass to have no info from the other driver.

    This country really sucks at taking care of its elderlies. I finally lied to my father to get his car away from him as he deteriorated with dementia. Only luck prevented him from hurting himself or anyone else during those weeks of getting lost and driving all around. Gah. These people should not be driving! Not to mention so many others as well.

    Take care.

  4. Ahhh, thanks. Yes, the thing on my mind all day has been “no one got hurt THIS TIME.” I really do hope the man’s family are prepared to use common sense. But after 20 years as their neighbor, I totally expect idiocy. Freedom of choice and all that. OTOH, insurance premiums could settle the matter…

  5. “What is it about people who drive Ford pickups anyway?”

    I still haven’t figured that out–here in Tennessee a tricked-out $50K pickup is every teenage boy’s wet dream. The drivers seem to think they can intimidate you into going faster or changing lanes by riding your bumper. And turn signals seem to be an optional accessory. I could go on, and on….

  6. Sounds like you should have kept the oak and had them removed as a dangerous nuisance.

    Loved the dead dog story. I’m glad you told it and I came in late enough to read it!

    My grandfather died at the age of 90, from injuries sustained after he drove his, wait for it…Ford pickup underneath the arse end of a semi. Florida wouldn’t take his license away. A year or two previous he went from FL to Missouri or somedamnwhere and came back with both wing mirrors gone and full-length scrapes down both sides of his truck. He had no idea how or when it happened.

    • Like the old guy who stove in my passenger side fender while the car was parked and drove off, three cars ago in the early eighties. Someone got his plates and when the cops arrived at his house, he had no idea he’d hit anything.

      I fondly hope that the Geezer’s insurance company hikes his premium so high that he just hangs it up.

      Keeping the oak was never an option, but it would have been nice if the tree removal people had been equipped to relocate the residents.

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