Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Are There Hit & Runs in the Suburbs?

So I am diverging from tales from the wedding, back to real life.

One of the last things I said to Jason Tuesday morning was "I don't want to go to work". I had a sore throat, runny nose and was generally a foggy mess. "Why don't you stay home?" "I can't, I really have to get to this meeting"

Famous last words. Heading east on Division, I'm stopped at a red light at Wood St. with several cars in front of me.

Before we get to the good part, let's review the last 6 months of car troubles. End of march, Jason gets the new job with Wilson. His Jetta is not big enough to haul the samples, so he gives the Jetta to his dad and J takes his dad's Subaru Forester. Or Outback. I can't keep cars straight.

The Jetta is leased so we need to ride it out until January. Really what we need is the Honda to make it until then.

Beginning of August, I'm driving the Honda home when I hear a slight hissing noise from under the hood. I park the car and notice a puff of steam. long story short, I finally have it towed to my mechanics at Haas, Inc (formerly the Honda Clinic - they are the best of you have a Honda and it turns out that the repairs required are simply not worth it at this point. The car has become too unreliable and has started breaking down more and more frequently, and seriously, 187,000 miles and 14 years is a good run.

So we face the inevitable, we buy Jason a new car that is big enough to haul his loot (an adorable hatchback, big enough for his needs, but no bigger) and I get the Jetta.

Which takes me back to Division street. Cruising along in a car nicer than any other car i have been able to call mine. The radio works! This alone is a major step up. I come to a stop enjoying my ride, enjoying the beautiful day it promises to be. When suddenly, I see a car barrelling straight at me, hearing it slam on brakes as it smashes into me.

I am screaming obscenities as the few seconds that it took for this all to unfold stretch on and on, as time will bend when you're in a car accident. Then, I'm shaking and about to cry as the adrenaline that is coursing through my body needs an outlet. It appears I am ok, no airbags deploy, and everything still seems to be attached.

I get out of the car in complete shock. And horror when I look at the state of my car. The irony is too great. As is my magnetic core, pulling car disasters toward me from every direction.

Now really, the major damage is not my rear bumper, although it is all banged up. The major problem is the fact that I get pushed into the Jeep Cherokee in front of me which results in a smashed up grill and crumpled hood.

All I can think is that Jason will probably divorce me.

Luis, the man in the Jeep in front of me is out as well, has quickly appraised the situation for what it is and is calling the cops. I get back in the car to call my office to let them know what has happened and to have them cancel my meeting. Of course, as soon as I start talking I burst into tears and start hyperventilating, scaring the pants off of my co-workers.

I am trying to reassure them that i am ok although I sound anything but. I notice through my tears that the car which hit me has started pulling out and realize that yes, we will need to get the cars off to the side of the road. Except, the car doesn't pull over. It pulls away. The people were looking right at us and simply pulled away. They didn't speed away, just left. Just like that. There was a woman behind the wheel who just had a smile on her face. A man in the seat next to her. And apparently, what i didn't see but Luis and the other witnesses saw, a child in a car seat in the back.

I start grappling for a pen and piece of paper to get the license plate number. Temporary plates of course. It is starting to dawn on me that this woman's insurance may not be covering anything. I'm assuming it doesn't exist.

Luis hops in his car and takes off after them. Everything keeps seeming more and more surreal. The accident took place in front of a big hardware store/repair shop and all the guys who work there are out, making sure we're ok, offering us coffee and water. "We saw the whole thing" "Man, I see those people in the neighborhood" "Yeah, I have it out for them already, we'll figure out who they are"

So, I have a posse.

Luis returns and the next hour passes in a blur. He was on the phone with the cops while he was driving and giving them the license plate. "I'm not good with numbers and I know I wouldn't have been able to remember it, and I didn't have a pen so I just took off after them and gave the cops the plate" Apparently when the dispatcher realized he was following after the woman they strongly encouraged him to stop, not interested in any acts of vigilantism. Our friends from the shop are still loitering around and we all rehash the event, examining it from every direction.

I suddenly realize I don't have an insurance card with me. Jason and I just got a new plan for the both of us and the two cars. I don't even know what company it is through.

Luckily, Jason was working from home when I left. I call his cell phone. No answer. I call the home phone. No answer. I call his cell phone again. Still no answer. I leave a message begging him to call me back. A few minutes later the phone rings.

"A? It's J. What's up?" "Did you listen to the message?" "No, I just saw that you called" "I got rear ended" "You're kidding, right?" "No, do we have insurance?" "Yes, the cards are in my hand actually" "You need to bring me one. Now. The police are on their way"

Now luckily Luis is a great guy and totally buys my story of why I don't have my insurance card with me. "I have insurance, but I just got married and my car just died, so we just got a new car, and I'm driving my husband's old car and we just got a new insurance policy for both of us, literally just last week, and i don't have the card in the car but we have a card at home and I swear my husband is on his way right now, he just needs to get here from Logan Square."

"You just got married, congratulations"

Seriously, this guy couldn't be nicer. Luckily the police officer, when she arrives, also buys my story and by the time she is finishing writing up the reports and all that Jason shows up with the insurance card.

The rest of the day proceeds as you would expect, call the towing company. Chill out for an hour, ride with them to the dealer, drop off the car, bus and train it home.

It's Jason I'm worried about now. This may have been the straw that breaks the City camel's back. J has been having a hard time with city living. I feel badly, because I think his frustration grew exponentially after he moved into my neighborhood. Logan Square and Old Irving definitely have different vibes. Gang violence, graffiti, stolen cars, intruders. And I choose to live here.

He was an angel and brought me the card and really wanted to see me and make sure I was ok.

But the look on his face when he looked at the car was a different story. He and the police officer commiserated over the fact that those of us who carry insurance and follow the laws are the ones who get punished in situations like this, since it seems unlikely we'll figure out who did this.

"I hear that hit and runs are down in Riverside"

So don't be surprised if our zip code does not start with 606 in the near future.

1 comment:

Rosemarie said...

Or 60187! ...we leave our garage door open over night and nothing ever gets taken.

But seriously, I'm just so glad nothing happened to you! But I cannot believe this. I can't believe the people just left, like drove normal and drove away with you all looking on completely baffled. I imagine it all happening in slow motion.