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Sugar Bowl Mix: Uninsured driver and parking lot rage.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Uninsured driver and parking lot rage.

A few weeks ago I was in two car accidents on the same day. Yes. Two. It wasn't a Friday 13th - it wasn't even Friday. It was a Sunday. I was on the freeway, taking Katherine to Toys R Us to use a gift certificate she'd gotten for her birthday. It was a short distance on the freeway and the traffic was flowing smoothly, until a silver Mercedes flew by, cutting me off, making me veer slightly. Next thing I knew there was a commotion in the lane to my left, brakes squealing, cars swerving and a black Passat spun out and stopped sideways in front of me.

I had already started braking. My old car didn't skid, or spin out - the ABS brakes work well. But apparently not fast enough because I slammed into the Passat, hard enough to give myself the nervous shakes but not hard enough to deploy the airbags. I saw Katherine in the rear view mirror, staring straight ahead. I asked if she was okay.
"That was scary," she said. Later, she told her sister that it was really important to always wear your seat belt in case you were in a car crash. "My seat belt stuck to me like glue," she said.  So something positive came from this: Maybe we'll never have another argument about doing up seat belts.

The eighteen-year old driving the Passat jumped out and immediately informed me that my car had no damage. She didn't have insurance. Well, actually she did have insurance but she had just bought the car the previous week and her insurance information was at home, couldn't she call me with it later? Yeah, right. Her car didn't have plates, but it did have two other young girls who promptly exited the car and seemed to think it was okay to wander around the shoulder with cars flying by at seventy mph. I called 911 and reported I had been in an accident. It seemed like the thing to do. The young girl told me she had somewhere to be. From the clothes she and her cohorts were wearing I'm assuming "somewhere" was the beach. They all got back in the Passat and she drove off.

We continued on our mission to Toys R Us. In the parking lot, I saw that my car actually was damaged. One of the lights was hanging out, the bumper was slightly dented and the whole bumper had been pushed back and there was a small crack. Bummer. I just spent a bucketload six months ago repairing ten years of dents and scratches.

We spent an hour and a half at Toys R Us. I think we picked up every single toy in that store - at least every stuffed animal and every Zsu Zsu pet. Katherine finally settled on an arts and craft project.

We arrived at our next destination: the grocery store around 3:15.  A quick run-in to get some last minute groceries for dinner.
"You can help me pick out lunch items for camp this week," I said as we pulled into a parking spot.  Even as I said it I knew it wasn't a particularly enticing offer given that we had just come from Toys R Us.  I opened the back door. The seat belt was caught on the car seat. I noticed someone was waiting to get into the parking spot next to us.
"Hurry up, sweetie. Someone's waiting." It probably took her all of one minute to untangle the seatbelt. Maybe a minute and a half. Maybe.

Suddenly, a very angry SUV drove into the parking spot and banged into the open car door!
"Excuse me!" I shouted. In retrospect, this seems like a stupid response.

The very angry driver of the the very angry SUV shouted out : "You think you're so important you can just stand there and make me wait???"
"My six-year-old was having trouble with her seat belt!"
"I didn't see the baby!"

"I'm not a baby," Katherine said as I hurried her away and into the store, the woman still shouting behind me.
I could hear her yelling: "Is your car damaged?" I hadn't thought to look. Another stupid move. But I had been brilliantly quick-thinking in pulling out my iPhone and taking not one, but two pictures of her license plate.

I called Tim. He said to call the police. I didn't. I ran into the woman and informed her my husband had told me to call the police. She started in on her beligerant rant. We walked away.

I told a young manager at Ralphs. He told me take satisfaction knowing I wasn't as crazy as the other woman. Gee, thanks.

Almost a thousand dollars in damage to the door.  My brilliant license plate picture will help track down the crazy driver. I hope. I should have taken a picture of the woman herself. Next time I will.

Turns out I would be found forty percent at fault for the freeway accident. I would be found to have "lost control." So the bumper will have to stay as is.

Uninsured driver, bad freeway driving, impatient grocery store customer in huge sunglasses with parking lot rage and my observant six-year-old in the back seat. We live in Los Angeles.

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