Saturday, April 3, 2010
The Case of the Rear-Ender Offender
It took me a few minutes to figure out what had happened. Wait, where am I? I thought, as I tried not to choke on a tater tot. Then he appeared at my window. He was old, 83 to be exact. He looked sad, slightly confused and visibly disoriented. With his watery eyes and mumbling voice, he apologized profusely, holding his hand to his heart.
I'm so sorry, he said. It was totally my fault, I didn't see you at all, I was looking the other way and didn't see you, I'm so sorry. You didn't do anything, you were just sitting there and I honestly did not see you at all. I'm very, very sorry. Looks like there's no damage but I'm so sorry, he said with his hand still resting over his heart.
Well, anyone who knows me knows I have always been a sucker for the old timers. My mom and dad used to tell me one day I would grow up to work in geriatrics because of my constant concern for their well being. I clearly recall them telling me I wouldn't mind cleaning up their soiled sheets.
Thanks for having such high aspirations for me.
I guess I couldn't blame them for their conclusions. It wasn't uncommon for me to see an elderly woman in the grocery store and run to offer my assistance to reach the upper shelves or stop to steady an old man making his way across a parking lot. When my grandmother was placed in a nursing home, I would sit and visit with all the residents (except for that dirty old guy that would chase me down the hall in his wheelchair mumbling something about big boobies) because they craved me (and not in the way the dirty old man craved me), they needed someone to talk with and my heart was soft and open for them.
As I watched this shaky old man on Friday, I immediately felt so bad, I got out of the car saying things like, sweetie, don't you worry about it......are you okay.....are you hurt.....is there someone I can call for you honey?
No, I'm fine and it looks like there's no damage to your car so you don't have to worry about anything.
Okay sweetie, I said. But listen, I just got this car so I'd like to take a closer look and see for myself, if you don't mind.
Oh, I already looked it over, he said while standing directly in front of my right rear bumper. There's no damage at all.
At this point, I gently placed my hand on his shoulder and moved him out of the way while bending down to take a closer look at my busted bumper with a deep gash, a few dents and some paint scratches. Well I'll be, this affable old man couldn't have lied to me. He just can't see very well, I mean after all, he didn't see a large Mazda CX9, one of the largest vehicles of its type with three rows that seat 7 people. If he can't see that, then he most likely couldn't see the damages.
Listen sir, I would feel more comfortable if we call the police so I can have a report for my insurance company.
There's no need to call the police, they won't even come to investigate something this minor. I will give you all of my information, my drivers license, my insurance carrier, I will take care of everything for you. The police cannot respond to every little fender bender. Let's pull out of this busy intersection and I will give you everything you need.
This made a lot of sense as we were in the middle of a six lane highway, with cars turning in all directions around us. It didn't feel safe. All we needed was to have more cars piling up. I agreed to move to the bank parking lot across the street but I told him I would need to take his drivers license with me.
What, you say? Why was I suddenly leery of this beloved citizen of the senior persuasion? Let's just say, once again at the age of 46, I have learned to listen to my instincts. Thank the heavenly stars above. My 20 year old self would have hugged him and told him to be more careful while sending him on his merry way.
He pulled into the bank parking lot and proceeded to park his bright red Cadillac sedan perpendicularly across the only two drive-through lanes the bank had, cutting off full access. By the time I turned my car around to get to the bank, he had a bank employee at his window, asking him to move. He sat there for a good little while, with his quivering hands and sodden eyes obviously telling her of his accident. I could see her heart bleeding from two rows away.
I called the police.
After he found a real parking place, he came up to my window to give me his information. When I told him I had called the police, I witnessed the emergence of a new character. Suddenly my helpless, decrepit old man turned into a belligerent, raving crackpot who was either in a terrible hurry as he had been insisting or he had something to hide.
I dropped the tender affection immediately and with my best raised, calm, clear and slow, mom means business voice, I said,
He took a step back, looking shocked, appalled and unsteady again. Why would you talk to me that way, he said, as his wide eyes began to look all gray, red and moist again.
I rolled up the window and called my insurance agent. The very same woman I had spoken to such a short time ago to tell her I got a new car. She was commiserating with me when he came back to the window and told me he refused to wait any longer. My agent told me to get out of the car and get his license plate number as he could be charged for leaving the scene. She could hear everything he was saying. She told me to be careful. Even over the phone, two cities away, he didn't sound right to her.
I grabbed my ever present small notebook where I jot down blog ideas or inspirational thoughts and began to take down his license plate number. I asked him to give me his name, address, phone number, and insurance information. He refused at first but when we saw the police officer turning into the lot, he began to cooperate. I got everything down except the policy number when the officer came up to us to begin his questioning.
Gramps proceeded to get uncomfortably close to the officer, positioning himself between us, with his head turned, speaking directly into his ear with that sad, old, shaky, helpless voice said, "I was just sitting there officer, and she backed right into me".
(To be continued......)