Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Accidents Happen

Last spring, I was driving down the highway on my way to work and there were some pieces of metal in the road. All of the cars were trying to avoid them, but the person in front of me drove right over one and then it bounced up and hit my car. My front bumper has been cracked ever since. I held off on getting it fixed because they would have to replace and re-paint the entire bumper and I didn't want to deal with the hassle of giving up my car for two days.

Finally I got sick of staring at that little crack so I called my insurance company and set up an appointment with the body shop to get it fixed. Because of my trip to New Orleans last week, I had to book it out two weeks in advance.

Intuition is a strange thing. Ever since I set up that appointment I have had a nagging feeling that I was going to get into a car accident. Maybe it's more like Murphy's Law than intuition. After delaying the repair for so long, it just makes sense that something would happen to my car as soon as I decided to get it fixed.

For the past two weeks I have been driving around with extreme caution. Checking twice before pulling out at stop lights and slowing down at every blind corner in the parking lot at work. The moment I let my guard down is when it happened.

The Boy and I were heading out to his friend's birthday party on Saturday night. I've gotten into the habit of letting the Boy drive my car on the weekends. He likes it much better than driving his own car. Plus, if he has too much to drink and I have to drive us home, I would much rather be in my own car. That night we were driving on Main Street, which has lots of bars and restaurants. There was an old man who was trying to pull out of a parallel parking space. No one else was letting him get out, but of course the Boy with his old-school Kansas manners decided to stop.

Unfortunately, the guy behind us did not notice that our car was stopped in the middle of the road and plowed his car into the back of ours. As soon as he hit us the first thing out of my mouth was "I knew this was going to happen!" I looked at the Boy and said "You need to go out there and talk to him because otherwise I am going to lose it." Then I proceeded to get out of the car anyway and start shouting at the Idiot Driver who hit us.

I am usually a pretty mellow person, but I was just so enraged by the whole situation. I understand that accidents happen, but this wasn't an accident. An accident is when an animal unexpectedly crosses the road and you stop short and the person behind you can't stop in time. We were already stopped on a crowded street with lots of people walking by and cars pulling in and out of traffic. This incident was a direct result of another person being careless and irresponsible.

We agreed to pull off of Main Street and turn onto the side street while we sorted things out. The Boy was trying to maintain his composure as I stomped around like a rebellious teenager. He spoke politely with the Idiot Driver who hit us and copied down his insurance information and phone number.

Then the Idiot Driver made the mistake of speaking directly to me. "It's not that bad," he said as I bent down to review the damage to my rear bumper.

Dude, I thought to myself, you have just crashed into the back of my car. I don't care if it is a tiny scratch or the whole back end is smashed. I still have to file a police report, call the insurance company and pay a $500 deductible to get it fixed. So don't try to act like its not a big deal just because you are the one who screwed up. It's a big deal to me.

"Well, at least I will have a police report to show whose fault it was," I said to the Boy, purposely ignoring the comment from the Idiot Driver. "Actually, it's a no fault state," the Idiot Driver interjected. I just gave him a stare of death and walked away. Maybe it is a no fault state, but this was clearly his fault and I am pretty sure I can get my deductible back from his insurance company.

Within a few minutes the police showed up to take our report and the Boy I were back in the car on the way to the birthday party. He held my hand as we sat in silence. "You have never seen me when I am angry," I said. "I guess now you have." I felt bad about the way I behaved but I could not control myself. Maybe I should be one of those people who shakes their head and says 'Don't worry about it. These things happen.' But I am just not that type of person.

On my way home the next morning, I kept re-playing that accident in my head. I thought about how the Boy had stopped to let that old man pull out. And how I had this feeling for a split second before we got hit that something was wrong and we needed to get out of there. I know it's not fair, but I just couldn't help wondering whether the accident would have happened if I had been driving instead of the Boy.

The last time I was in a car accident was about five years ago when I was dating my Mr. Big. I had just picked him up from the airport and we were driving back to my house when this woman pulled out into oncoming traffic. She edged past the van that was in the lane next to us and cut into my lane, side swiping the front end of my car. A few weeks before that accident, I had just paid to have a large dent in my front hood replaced, so needless to say I was pretty upset.

My Mr. Big stepped right in and took care of everything. He went out and talked to the woman who hit us, got all of the information and called the police to file a report. Then he came back to the car and calmed me down. "Remember it's just a car," he reminded me. "Your insurance will take care of the repairs. That's what insurance is for. The important thing is that no one got hurt."

One the way back to my house, my Mr. Big and I started talking about the accident. "You are a really good driver," he said to me. "You had quick reflexes and maintained control of the car. If you hadn't been able to do that, we could have ended up crashing head on into oncoming traffic on the other side of the road." I loved the feeling of security I had whenever my Mr. Big was around. He was so smart and confident. I never had to worry about whether he would say or do the right thing.

With the Boy I wasn't so sure. Even though I sent him out there to handle things, I felt like I had to watch over his shoulder the whole time. The Boy tried his best to deal with the situation but this accident just reinforced the fact that he's not my Mr. Big. And he never will be.

Whenever I start to think I might have some control over my own destiny, the universe steps in and reminds me that it is out of my hands. For the last two weeks I have been trying to prevent the inevitable. But despite my best efforts, that accident was my fate and all of my defensive driving couldn't stop it from happening.

Somehow being in this little fender bender has unleashed a series of 'what if's' into my head. There are the little 'what if's', like what if I was driving instead of the Boy. Or what if we had taken his car that night instead of mine. Then there is the big 'what if' that still lingers in the back of my mind. What if my Mr. Big never had his stroke. I wonder if he would still know just the right thing to say in every situation.

Usually, I make a conscious effort not to compare the Boy to my Mr. Big. After all, they are two very different people. And I guess I am a different person now too. But after going through such a similar experience with each of them it's almost impossible not to make direct comparisons. Although the Boy has so many great qualities that make me happy, sometimes I wish he was a little more mature.

A relationship is only as strong as the amount of faith you have in the other person. And if I start to question my faith in the Boy, well that's just another accident waiting to happen.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Interesting . . . the past informs the present, but should not oevrshadow it.