Being a teacher, I get mid-winter break and I figured there was no better way to begin my break than by doing a little shopping at Target (new basketball, new toilet plunger, new cat toy) and heading home for a relaxing week of hanging out with the wife and daughter. But as I drove south through Issaquah I was rear-ended by a white Honda Prelude. I had just come to a stop, since that seemed to be the trend of all the vehicles in front of me. Mr. White Honda Prelude, non-conformist that he is, tried doing something different. He continued driving about 35 miles per hour (I’m guessing based on… well, based on nothing. It’s a guess.) into my rear bumper. My head flew forward, but luckily I remembered to wear my neck that day which kept it from hitting the windshield. Some of you may be wondering, “Where were the airbags?” I don’t know. I just now thought of that too.
A small device (wouldn’t want to self-incriminate with insurance decisions pending) flew from my hand and landed who knows where. I held my foot firmly on the breaks and just barely avoided hitting the car in front of me. Even though my head didn’t hit anything I was pretty dazed and I think my priorities were a little out of whack. First I stepped out and checked to see if the guy was alright. He was picking up his bumper and other pieces of his crappy car from the middle of the road. My crappy car remained in one piece. Meanwhile nice cars were probably laughing as they drove by, entertained the same way that rich kids get a kick out of bum fights. Number two on my list was to get my car pushed to the side of the road so traffic could go by without too much hassle. So I popped my ’97 Mercury Sable into neutral and pushed it aside so that the nice cars wouldn’t have as much time to laugh as they passed.
For whatever reason, my first reaction was to feel bad for the poor sap who just hit me, and thus have enough pity to not call the cops. I guess it’s because I have rear-ended people twice before (once going about eight miles per hour and once sliding on a wet road… neither one as serious as this one). But both times I felt like an idiot, so I assumed that he would feel the same way. He did, but through conversation I discovered that he really was an idiot, a real nincompoop. Here were my top five clues with additional commentary because I can’t help myself:
1. “Man, this is a borrowed car too. [Pause] And I’ll be honest. I don’t have insurance.”
And he has a Minnesota driver’s license with an old address, is unemployed, and doesn’t know the address of the place he’s staying. Insert profane language here.
2. “Well, if it’s any consolation, I am a Jehovah’s Witness. You know what that means? That means I’m a good guy and you’re not going to get screwed over in this whole thing.”
I think this is where I decided in my heart that retribution must be had for years of invasive front door visits. On top of that there’s his snide assumption that religion makes a person moral. In attempting to flaunt his trustworthiness, he left me thinking that he’s nuts. But to his credit, through the whole ordeal, he did not ask me to join.
3. Him: “Let’s see if someone will let us park our cars in their yard.”
Me: “Well, mine doesn’t run, so it needs to get towed. Plus I think yours is leaking quite a bit of fluid.”
Him: “Yes. You’re right. You know what that is? That’s antifreeze.”
It looked an awful lot more like gasoline with its rainbow coloration, but what do I know about cars? Nothing. Except that people don’t like wrecked ones parked in their yards.
4. Pointing at a nearby house with no lights on but with two cars parked out front, he said,”Looks like nobody’s home there, and it looks like they don’t come around very often.”
This Jehovah guy is sounding more and more shady every minute.
5. “Well, it’d be great for me if you didn’t call the cops on this one. This couldn’t have come at a worse time for me. If the cops come, I’m really up a creek. We could set up a payment plan.”
Smile. Nod. Wait until he walks away, and dial 911.
It’s not just a damaged rear bumper that I’m dealing with. The car doesn’t start, the trunk is bent, and the right taillight is broken (the left one already was). It’s probably totalled. The odds that this guy can cover the damages within one year? 50-1?
My only hesitation in calling the police was that I was having trouble finding my current insurance card. I found old ones in my glove box, but the new one was nowhere to be found. I found my cell phone (not to be confused with that mystery device that flew out of my hand during the crash) underneath the seat and called Allison. She had no clue where the insurance card would be, but said she would look around briefly before coming to pick me up. Then this is when I called 911. “Is the other motorist still there?” asked the operator. “Yes, he’s parking his car in someone’s lawn right now.”
And then I waited. Jehovah stopped by a couple of times to share bright ideas on how to leave cars behind and meet up over the weekend to discuss payment plans. Little did he know, I had betrayed him. As dumb as it sounds, that’s how I felt at the time. He trusted that I wasn’t going to call the police and then I did. That’s betrayal. But it doesn’t necessarily make it a bad thing. My wife trusts me too. She trusts that I won’t be a dumbass and that I will call the police if my car is totalled by someone with no insurance, no job, and no reliability beyond membership in a group that believes we have been living in end times since 1914 and that “heaven” has a limited capacity of 144,000.
About twenty minutes later a cop showed up. As he approached my window I noticed he was followed by a short Asian teenager in a black and purple hooded sweatshirt. He turned and told the teen to step onto the sidewalk to avoid getting hit by the passing cars. I was confused. He asked the normal questions and quickly came to asking for my license, registration, and proof of insurance. I turned to gather the license and registration, and was about to try to explain not having my insurance when the Asian teen opened my passenger side door and handed me my insurance card. “Why did this Asian teenager just hand me my insurance card?” I turned and handed all three of the requested items to the officer and he asked if she had been in the car with me during the accident. I said no and turned to look more closely at the Asian teenager. Now she was white instead of Asian and 24 instead of a teenager. It was Allison, my wife. I know this is strange. But that is where my head was at the time.
After Allison’s impeccable timing, the cop ticketed Jehovah, filed a report, I called a tow truck and my insurance company and blah blah blah. I’m covered for being hit by an uninsured driver, so aside from the hassle everything will be taken care of. Now I have something to bug me for the next week. Perhaps my car will be totalled and we can dip into our savings to buy my dream car, a minivan.