Thursday, July 21, 2005


In Which I Adjust to Life on Earth-M...

There's an interesting coda or two to my accident story. The first one is bit beyond belief, but I assure you it's true, and just the merest example of the kind of luck I tend to have (that is, the kind that you're never entirely sure is really bad or really good):

A couple weeks after the accident, I was still bumming rides to work (although now with Her Lovely Self, rather than my neighbor). But eventually I had to get back in the car and drive it to the garage where the adjuster would evaluate my rolling wreck and figure out what kind of loss I'd sustained. THAT was a nerve-wracking drive, I'll tell you. The adjuster made the evaluation with commendable dispatch (although, really, one look at my car and the only conclusion any sane person could draw was that it was totaled). That was when I also learned I'd be getting around $2,400 which, as I mentioned earlier, was something of a gut-punch, seeing as I still owed $800 on the car.

I was dwelling on this as I drove home, wondering how I would manage. At the rate I was going, I'd be another 6 months paying off the car and while all my money was going to pay that and sundry other bills, there was no way I could start saving money to buy a new car. I had just started freelancing, but at small magazines that tended to pay $50-100 per story. Where was I going to find the dough?

Well, the answer was right in front of me, quite literally, as it turned out. Because about 5 minutes from my apartment, as I was driving through an intersection where I had a clear, bright green light and an obvious right of way, a late model Toyota Celica inexplicably made a left turn directly into my path and I creamed it.

Time did not slow down this time. The Celica and I spun in a fast circle, locked at the bumper, and waltzed off to the side of the road, where we both came to rest on the curb. I had no time to think about my parents, or Her Lovely Self, or whether or not THIS was going to be the moment of my death. All I could think was, Again?


Luckily, I had been driving about 20 miles per hour the whole way, so no one was hurt. I clambered out of the passenger side and ran to the Celica. Inside, a 17 year-old girl was crying. I worried that maybe she had been injured, but when she looked up and saw me, she burst into fresh tears.

"Oh my God!" she cried. "I'm so sorry. I was looking for a tape on the floor! I'm so sorry!" She gazed out the window at my wreck. "Oh my God! Look what I did to your poor car!"

Presently the cops came and this sweet, honest, stupid young lady told them everything. They promptly issued her a ticket, which gave her something new to cry about ("My dad is gonna kill me!"), and I got another police report to add to my collection. Incredibly, my car still ran (although the right front wheel now had quite a list to it and the Celica had smashed out the headlight on that side). I drove home and vowed never to drive again.

So it was lucky indeed to get a call a couple days later from the very garage where the insurance company had totaled my car (The girl and I had the same insurance carrier, it turned out). I even got the same claims adjuster and once we started talking, he remembered me immediately.

"So what happens now?" I asked. I mean, they had already totaled the car once. They couldn't exactly do it again, could they?

Turns out the adjuster was as clueless as I, having never been in this situation before. He hemmed and hawed for a bit and said, "Well, the accident report says your front wheel got bent and your headlight got knocked out. So I'm just going to do an estimate for that damage. Be a helluva lot easier than trying to do the paperwork to explain this to the home office." I said that was fine, as long as I didn't have to drive the car anywhere. We hung up and I didn't think any more about it.

A few weeks later, I had just mailed off two checks to the bank that held my car loan: the $2,400 payoff from the insurance company, and my regularly monthly car payment. Boy was THAT a dispiriting day, I'll tell you. I was in the dumps for quite a while.

Well, at least until the mail arrived in the afternoon, and I found a second check from the insurance company waiting for me.

I had been under the impression that because the company had already totaled the car and made an estimate on what it was worth that I had therefore received all the money I was going to. But no. Because the adjuster had filed two separate reports on two separate claims, I got two separate checks.

This one was for $1,550.

Once I paid off my car, I still had $750, which turned out to be the exact asking price of an old beat-up Toyota Tercel (I know, it would have been poetic had it been a Celica) with 90,000 miles on it, which a woman in my apartment building just happened to be selling.

So much for my vow never to drive again.

But the longest time, no one--not even me--knew whether I was having a run of bad luck or good luck. I had been in a serious car accident. But I had lived through it, and more then that, the accident had somehow kindled a powerful new bond between me and Her Lovely Self. In the same month, I was in yet another accident. But once again, I survived and not only emerged unscathed, but also with enough money to pay off my old car AND buy a new one.

It was around this time the notion of my living in an alternate reality--Earth-M--began to take hold. It began to dawn on me that perhaps I had indeed made my way to a parallel universe where, it seemed, I could do no wrong. Where I was living a charmed life. And so I embraced that little conceit for the next several months.

Right up until the day I got the certified letter in the mail...

It does bring things into perspective. Death.

Regardless of after life ... its the present one that we have to live by.

:) ... Second chance.

I think of I understand now.
Loki totally loves messin' with you.
Damn! That sounds similar to what happened to my husband. I'm curious what that certified letter is.
My goodness, how many close calls, near death experiences and crazy-popcorn machine type-situations can one person go through in their life? Write a book on your life...I would totally buy it!
Could you let us know when you're in Texas? I'll make sure to stay off the roads. ;)

An addicted reader
It sounds like you have the same little dark cloud of doom over your head that I have over mine. I have the worst luck in the world with vehicles...

Glad you're okay. :)
Oh, please let the certified letter be insurance fraud! :p
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