02 December 2009

What the Heck is Going On?

Something about this season always brings out the mostest in me - be it the worst or the best, who knows.  I just seem to be all in a tizzy with things to do.

Which is, dear reader, why I haven't posted since November 5th.

First, it was our family trip to Jamaica, which I will have to write about separately, as it was really that amazing.  We went to celebrate the wedding of Bahiyyih & Malik, and boy, did we ever (celebrate, that is)!

Then, it was right into birthday festivities for Nathan, which (I almost forgot) included a sneaky surprise trip to see the Chicago Bears play the Philadelphia Eagles with his dad.  Neither had gone to a game before and it was pretty amazing.  Even tho' the Bears lost.  But this, also, is another post.

Then it was house-sitting and Thanksgiving prep at said house across the street.  Which was a feast for the ages.  Complete with fancy china and the "king goblet."  Again, another post.

Which leads me, finally, to the point of THIS post:

On Sunday, after cleaning up from Thanksgiving and getting all of my ducks in a row in terms of "moving out" of our neighbor's house, I thought it might be nice to go visiting.  So I called up my dear friend, Corinne, piled the girls in our sweet car, picked up Corinne and drove into "the city" to a devotional at a mutual friends' home.  It was nice and tasty, and I ran into a friend from college, who it was great to see.

And then, on the drive home, someone ran into me.  Not in the cordial sense.

I was in the right lane heading north on the gargantuan Sheridan Road, and coming up onto an intersection with a left turn.  As I begin passing the intersection, Corinne suddenly says, "Look out!" and I barely have time to hit the brakes and try to swerve, when a car from the left lane turns into ours and hits my front driver's side wheel, thereby lifting our car into the air slightly before we come to an abrupt stop toward the end of the intersection.  This same car then veers back into the left lane and hits a car waiting to turn left, which, in turn, huts the car in from of it, also waiting to turn left.  It was a scary, adrenaline-filled jumble.

Stunned, I look behind me and see that traffic has stopped, and grumpy drivers, completely unaware that time is now moving in slow motion (they missed the memo, apparently), begin to filter through the two lanes to continue on their northbound way.  I can't think of where they could be going that is so urgent.

I make a mental check to see how the girls are - Elsie has promptly fallen asleep and Olivia is asking questions about what just happened, which Corinne is deftly answering while taking stock of the situation.  I get out to look at the car and it appears that there is only some minor damage to the front bumper and the front driver's side wheel well.  I somehow see that a police car has driven up, and the officer is asking all the drivers involved to retreat to a driveway nearby.  I dutifully try to back the car up, and am presented with a bit of difficulty in doing so - it feels as though I have a flat tire or something.

In the melee that followed, I am so thankful for Corinne's insight.  She quickly calls a friend to come and pick up the girls, and then calls Nathan's work and has him paged (he had escaped somewhere away from his office) so that he can come down, too.  She bawls me out of my stupor in so that I answer the officer's questions and don't allow the offending driver to label me as the "striking vehicle," when (as we later find out) there was no way that I could have rendered as much damage to my car as was there on my own.  She guides me to sit in the car to stay warm, as I aimlessly walk around the car, looking for God knows what.  I was so stunned that I didn't know what to do with myself.

Our friend, Bushra arrives and takes Olivia into her car.  Nathan arrives, and Corinne and Bushra leave with Olivia, who is excited about reaching the "promised land" of cable television at Corinne's house.  Elsie is still asleep.  The police officer is busy with paperwork as Nathan and I inspect the car.  When we drive it slowly forwards and backwards, it sounds and feels as though we are driving a flat tire over glass.  But there is no real visible evidence of any problems, except that the tires don't turn together - one would be parallel with the car's frame while the other would be turned on an angle.

I approach the officer's car and ask to see my insurance card, because we need to call a tow truck for the car.  He asks me if that is really necessary, as the damage appears to be very slight.  I reply that it is not drivable, and, although he appears to not believe me, he hands me my card.

The first car to leave was the least damaged one - the car at the front of the queue to turn.  Then the second car in the turning queue drives off.  Only the striking car and I remain with the officer.  The offending car soon drives off, with several tickets, and the officer approaches my car.  He tells me I need to accompany him to the station.

He may have believed that I was feigning surprise, but I really was taken aback.  I wasn't sure why I would need to go to the police station - but he was vehement that I hurry and follow him in my car.  When I ask what I should do if the car can't keep up, he told me that I needed to have a better attitude.  Fortunately, Nathan was there and asked the words that my brain couldn't manage to form:  why does she need to go?   It turned out that because I had mislaid my driver's license earlier and did not have it with me,  I was getting a ticket.  And so they needed my signature at the station so they could release me on bond.  I'm still not sure how to explain it, but I ended up riding in the back of the police car, leaving Nathan and Elsie with the car.

There isn't much leg room in the backseat of police cars.

I signed and waited for the officers at the station to finish their paperwork.  My officer was in a hurry to get back to the scene and be on his way, and so he started to take me back to his car before the desk officer was finished with the paperwork.  At this point, I believe that my officer realised that I wasn't being stupid or playing a part - I was doing the best I could at following his instructions (he had been rather curt up until then) - but was new to this and wasn't sure what was expected of me.

In the car on the way back, he asked for the names of the girls, as he hadn't realised that there had been children in the car.  And he asked what we would do in order to get the car home - to which I replied that we would try to drive it.  Content that his job was finished, and realising that he had left some paperwork at the station, he dropped me off and rushed away.

I think that police officers should have secretaries.  There is certainly enough to think about with the law and all.

At this point, I transferred Elsie's car seat to our neighbor's car (which Nathan was driving at the time), and proceeded to try to drive our poor little car home, with Nathan in the rear with his hazard lights on.  I could drive about 5 miles an hour and successfully crossed Sheridan road before I decided that we should actually try to call a tow truck.  I called our insurance and started to make a claim, before finding out that we would need to pay for a tow truck (we had no money on us, and our debit cards had been canceled as I had lost mine on our way to Jamaica).  So we started out again with my goal to get the car parked on a side street with no parking restrictions.  Ten minutes and three blocks later, I found a spot, right near our first apartment.

So we left our little car, content that anyone who tried to steal it wouldn't get very far, and prayed that no street cleaning would occur between then and whenever we could pick it up.  We picked up Olivia and went home and went to bed.

I am still trying to sort out insurance things - we have full coverage, but are reluctant to make a claim, as it will put us out $400 (plus we don't have rental coverage).

Our insurance, Allstate, has contacted me twice already to take a statement, and is making arrangements to have the car towed, in the event that we do not have resolution from the other insurance company.

The offending party's insurance company is a small local establishment, who will not accept liability because they have not yet heard from their client nor have they made an assessment of the damage.  They are apparently so small that they do not employ appraisers, and have sent out the request for an appraiser on Monday.  It is now Wednesday and I have not heard from them.  I have called every day, only to be told the same thing.  When I ask to see if we can at least have a rental car, they tell me that they cannot do anything until they have finished their investigation.

I think that they should hire me to fill out the paperwork - I'd get that thing taken care of in a jiffy.


Sholeh said...

Oh my goodness, Liz! I'm so glad you're all ok, but sorry to hear about your car. :(

Dena said...

dude! what a sunday! i'm so glad that you all are okay :)

Kristin said...

OH MY! What an ordeal! I'm so relieved to hear your family is ok and made it through that horrific experience. I can't imagine how stressful that must have been and continues to be for all of you. I hope you find resolution to this mess soon.