Friday, July 31, 2009

Stupid Fool (redux)

Yep, this is a post, but don't get too excited. Obviously, this stands very likely to be the ONLY post in July, so don't expect too much from me in the near future (at least for this month).

And with this post I am hat-tipping to all the gang at and their Fatherhood Friday initiative... by all means visit there and partake in many other blogs deserving your attention.

Dad Blogs

I had to go back almost 4 years to find the last post on this topic, so that in a way is a good thing. Still, I am a stupid fool.

Two weeks ago I was in a parking lot, backing up. Let me be more specific: I was leaving an ice cream parlor, across from a wildly popular amusement park (Dorney Park, if you're keeping score) on a Saturday evening (about 8:30 PM) in what had to be a perfect summer's evening weather.

Translation: a perfect storm.

For reasons far too numerous to state here, I was alone, in my much-better-half's 2006 Toyota Highlander, having just bought 10 pounds of dry ice and on my way back to meet MBH and kids (there was a big to-do on Sunday that needed additional cooling -- like I said.... long story). Anywho, I was backing up the Highlander, going less than 2 MPH as there were kids EVERYWHERE. I heard a kid yelp, yelp, cackle, scream - whatever. The were kids enjoying their ice cream sitting on benches in front of me, and the sound came from that direction, and it was a happy kind of exclamation, but still the reflex to focus my attention towards the front of the car was automatic, as was further depressing the brake peddle to stop the car.

At that exact moment I heard it: the oh-so-painful crackling of my tail light.

Apparently, some 20-something gal (with 2 friends in the backseat) rolled up BEHIND ME, perpendicularly to my vehicle. I hadn't gotten more than 2-3' out of the spot when I stopped, but that was apparently OK to her to roll up behind me.

The crackling sound came from my tail light hitting her rear side-view mirror.

Now when I say crackling, I mean the clear back-up lens is broken... not the turn signal, not the brake light lens. JUST the back-up. So, overall, if I had to break a lens, the back-up one is the least used (and the bulb still works, so all is good).

The gal and I chatted and she was all eager to forget the matter, since she had no damage.

Uh-huh. But what about my tail light?

So I asked her for her insurance card, and she repeated her request to forget it. Now I want to see it, even more, because if she's driving without insurance, the cops will be called (even though I had 10 lbs of dry ice freezing my floor mat, and as much as I wanted to get back to my fam who were waiting for me). She finally agreed and traded information.

The other reason I wanted her information was that in case she claimed I "hit and ran", having her information would be proof I spoke to her and traded said data. Who knows what could have happened if we smiled and went our way, right?  Remember: she had two friends, and I was solo.

Looking at her car again, I agreed there was no damage but I made no promise to forget the matter either.

Not wanting to bother the insurance company, I did let it go. Basically, I was in the wrong even though she was obviously driving recklessly in that she came up so close to parked cars, but the tail light assembly sells on line for about $120, so it wasn't worth the effort to go through a claim.

Guess who did call the insurance company? Yep, she did. So I speak to my claims adjuster and hers. Three days later I find out: my company will pay her for some $575 in damages.

Shocked, I demand photos of her claim. What I see appears to be two (that's right 2) dents that look suspiciously like a sledge hammer. Now bear in mind: my vehicle has a flat bummer -- nothing protruding out that could produce two dings. Also remember: I have a CRACKED taillight. How in the hell could I make 2 dents in her car if all I have is a cracked lens?

The adjuster asked for my photos of her car: I had none. I was so pleased to see no damage on her (and in such a hurray to get back) I completely forgot to use my cell phone to snap a few photos.

In the end, the adjuster said that while my explanation makes sense, the amount involved is too small to be worth their challenging it.

In short, my driving record takes a hit for a stupid cracked tail light. And for me trusting a young gal, who quite honestly looked young enough to have been my daughter.

Considering I still log will over 1000 miles a week commuting to work, I shouldn't complain about to bumps in 4 year period, but it still grates on me. I am a better driver than that, and I know it. On the other hand, if I go another 4 years without any incident, who am I to complain?

The moral: In any case involving a claim, ALWAYS assume the other guy/gal is going stick you with it, and be sure to take photos!

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