Piling it on
Posted by joeabbott on January 1, 2013
OK, I realize that after going for weeks without posts, I’m starting to just dump into this blog. That’s fine, read the stuff you’re interested in, move past the stuff you’re not. I don’t mind at all.
What I do mind, is attitude and that was nowhere near as obvious as this past weekend when I was rear-ended while heading out to see holiday lights with Suzy. While there wasn’t obvious damage to my vehicle or (serious damage to my) person, the whole affair put a damper on the night and gave me a lot to think about.
Suzy and I took off just before 7PM and thought to grab a bite somewhere nearby and then cruise the neighborhood streets, appreciating the decorations on the houses. While we were stopped at a light in the turn lane, we received a huge jolt and heard that obvious collision sound. My instantaneous reaction was to hammer the brakes harder and to wonder how I’d let my foot slip. Then I realized it wasn’t me that caused the problem so I set my hazard lights and parking brake and got out.
The young man behind me looked out of his car, said something like, “there’s nothing wrong”, and started to get back in. I was still amazed there was no obvious damage to either car but asked that I see his license and proof of insurance. He looked at me incredulously, again said, “there’s nothing wrong” and made to get back in. I mentioned there’d been an accident, there could be injury or structural damage we couldn’t see, and I just wanted to “do this right”.
He again scoffed, said, “there’s nothing wrong, no one’s hurt” and made to leave. At this point I chose not to argue or get in an altercation but announced I was calling the police and I noticed Suzy was taking pictures. At that point he got in his car and I completely expected him to drive off. He didn’t.
But, Suzy and I sat in our cat (my Vue) and had a lot of time to think things over.Suzy agreed this guy seemed like a flight risk and, as such, had taken pictures of his license plate. I was happy to have that extra bit of insurance. I’d got through to 911 but it was over 20 minutes before a police officer showed up; he explained, “it was shift change”.
Upon arriving, he looked at our cars and said, “there’s nothing wrong”. I agreed but stated I wasn’t a car expert and would like a mechanic to at least confirm the integrity of the bumper: we’d been hit hard enough to push an SUV with its brakes on 3’-4’ and the impact had knocked items from the dashboard into the back seat. He agreed, took the information from both of us, and we were on our way after he handed me the accident reference number.
All of this was a bad experience but, had the guy who hit me just been more cooperative, it would have made a world of difference. Yes, insurance companies advise their clients to not discuss liability (come on … I was struck from behind while my brakes were on), but where’s a little compassion or sense of responsibility in owning up to mistakes?
While I’ve had a stiff neck these past three days, it’s starting to subside. I have an appointment to have my car inspected later this week and I’ve been in touch with my insurance company (but haven’t yet made a claim). The physical “stuff” associated with the accident will be in the past soon enough.
While teaching first aid I picked up a tip from another instructor who’d said, after an emergency is over, people will long remember your attitude more than whether you did everything by the text book and, as I consider this recent incident, I absolutely agree. This has given me a new appreciation for attitude and how someone comes off to others when there’s a disagreement; hopefully I won’t come off as the guy who’d hit me. Which is to say, I won’t be a bit of a jerk.
Be safe but, also, be nice.