Accidents Happen

If you’re following along you know two things to be true: I was just last week, six months after we moved to Atlanta, that I was able to get my car tags switched to the state of Georgia and sweet baby Jesus that’s a long-ass story, and 2. Things are sometimes crazy at the Goodnight house. Case in point: last Thursday, the actual day I was able to walk into the friendly DeKalb County MVD and walk out with car tags on my lovely, happy, Volkswagen, I, ahem, had my first car “accident.” Now don’t freak out! I said DON’T FREAK OUT! No one was injured. In fact, no one was driving. We were parked when the accident occurred, but like most things in my life, there’s a story…

There I am, pumped to be able to get Jackson from school in my car, legally tagged, and what not. We walk occasionally, nowadays, depending on the weather, but this was a nasty weather day. In fact, right when I pulled up at his school around 4:00 (he had robotics practice after school that day) it started to rain. I usually try to snatch a spot right in front of the school, but because of the rain the front lane was already packed to the gills, so I snatched a relatively close spot in the parking lot adjacent.

Now mind you, I have been driving Jerimiah’s truck for the last few months because while I was waiting on a title to come to me for my car (which never came, because it was never going to come but the sonsabitches never told me that) my car tags expired and my car was forever parked in the carport, just waiting, with her large, judgey eyes, to be driven again. This bears no weight on this story. Well, it kind of does. See Jerimiah’s truck is different than my car. It’s bigger, and the doors are more “square” and you know what, I’m just gonna move on. (Side note: Is it “bares” or “bears”? Here’s the thing, I never remember, and yes, I am an English major, but I still have to look it up a lot and that’s not the only thing, and honestly I don’t feel like looking it up right now, so can someone just tell me? Okuuuur? Thanks.)

So I go inside and collect Jackson, along with his bag, his untied shoes, his coat crumpled under his arm, and his giant trumpet case. So, we walk out to the car, again, it’s starting to rain and my son is a hot fucking mess, I just want to make sure that I made that clear. He’s a fifth grader. Okay. So he sees my car, her name is Tiggy, and he is all pumped to have her back like I am. We get to the car, I get to my side, he heads over to the passenger side, I hear the back door open, then he freezes. I’m all, “What’s up, dude?” He’s all, “Umm, I think I opened the car door too wide and it hit this car and umm, I think I may have done something bad.” I roll my eyes, because how bad could it be, I’m thinking a little scratch that will buff out with my fingers. This isn’t my first rodeo. So I walk to the other side of the car and that is when I see that this BRAND NEW BMW 330i has a cracked tail light. Like for real.

My first reaction is all inside, thankfully. I’m like, “REALLY, BMW?! Really?! Like, you sell a MFing $50,000 car whose tail lights crack in a matter of seconds when faced with an obstacle?” I’m not trying to be that gal here, but my Tiggy has been beat the hell up. Like, she’s a 2013 VW and she looks like she’s been rode pretty hard, because, well, she has, but she still chugging along quite nicely, with all her lights in tact. (But, she does have one of the best safety ratings in her class, so suck on the Bimmer.)

Anywho, this is where it gets a little hairy. First of all, let me just say that I 100% believe that this was a test of my new medication, because just that morning my Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Suzan asked me if my new medication was working, and I was all, “I don’t really know. I mean, I think so.” Oh, it is. Because non-medicated Missy would have said this, “What the actual hell, Jackson?! You need to be more careful! Look what you did, oh my gosh, this is horrible. This is going to ruin my life, how can I ever recover from this?!” Something like that. Instead, I looked at him. He looked at me, a little scared, definitely feeling bad, he never wants to hurt anyone or anything, yes even, nay, especially a nice car. He’s a total car guy, in case you didn’t know and I think it pained him to see what he had done to this nice car.

So then I said, “Let’s call Daddy.” I do this from time to time when I need a second. When I’m not 100% sure what to say, especially when Jackson is present. It’s less, “Oh, dear baby Jesus I need Jerimiah to fix this,” and more, “I need to process this before I can move forward.” So I called, and he was busy, on a conference call with work people, so I told him the short version and he was also very calm and was all, “Just call the insurance and start a claim.” So that’s what I did.

Now mind you, at this point we had no idea who this car belonged to. Jackson didn’t recognize it, which means it was not one of his teachers’ cars, because he knows what every, single, one of them drive. He asks. Like the first time he meets them. Not in a creepy, stalker way, more in a, “Ouch, you drive a Ford Escape? Really? You know those score very low in the crash test ratings, right?” So, yeah, maybe in a creepy way.

Anyhoo, still here? Good. So I’m on hold with the insurance company, who also seems very chill. Everyone is very chill at this point, and I’m a little worried that we’ve all smoked like, a lot of weed, but no one told us. Like maybe they are pumping it through the air? But then it occurs to me, as we are watching every family come out of the school, trying to decide if they are walking toward us, that this car might belong to a real sonofabitch. You know the kind I’m talking about. A man or a woman, who doesn’t have time for my shit, for my kid’s story about how he was just trying to open the car wide enough to fit his trumpet case in the backseat. About how my car door is shaped weird, etc, etc. This makes me panic a little bit, and while I’m on hold waiting for a claims rep, I think for a split second that I could run. As soon as I thought it I was upset with myself, but still, no one had saw this happen. No one could pinpoint that it was us. In fact, the crack was hard to see in the tail light, it might be days or even weeks before the owner notices. Then again, I looked at Jackson. And you know, thought better of it. Parenting is a bitch sometimes, y’all.

So after I completely finish the claim, take pics of the car, Jackson and I look at each other and we just know. No one has come outside. It’s 4:30 by now, that can only mean one thing. It’s a teacher’s car. AHHHHHHH! So we make the slow, measured walk back inside and head to the front office. We tell them what happened and they say, “Oh no!” and they call for the owner of the white, BMW 330i to come to the office. Then a moment later Jackson’s teacher appears and I am actually like, “SONOFABITCH!” Turns out he was just leaving, but the more I considered I knew he would be the understanding sort, so I sort of wished it had been him, then out of the corner of my eye I see a sweet, small woman (think Miss Honey) appear in front of me. She looks sad, and a little tired, but she is definitely a first grade teacher, I can just tell, she hasn’t been beaten down by the big kids yet, she still gets a lot of hugs. She walks in, sees us, sighs and braces herself, as I thrust out my hand and ask her if she’s the BMW with the University of Florida tags. (There are a lot of BMWs in the teachers’ lot at Jackson’s school, I don’t know what the pay scale is here for teachers, but good on them!)

She says yes, and Jackson and I jump into a very apologetic story, reliving each detail shamefully, until the very end when I slide her a piece of paper with my name, number, and the claim number my insurance company gave me. She looks startled, and a bit shaken up, but she smiles and says, “You came in and told me? And you already filed a claim?” I gave her what I’m assuming was my, “Duh” face and she was all, “Thank you. Thank you for doing that. Some people wouldn’t have done that.” Then I got all sorts of fucking sad, because damn it, she’s right and damn it, that did cross my mind for a second, and damn it, I’m a horrible person too.

Then she proceeded to tell me that the car is a lease, because her last car was totaled from a HIT AND RUN! I shit you not. So then I felt 1,000,000 million times worse. That’s why she looked so defeated. That’s why she was so appreciative. Jackson and I looked at each other. We both fought the urge, at that moment, to hug her. He even told me in the car later that he thought he should have hugged her. We are huggers, okay. Mind yo bidness.

Damn it. We should have hugged her.

So, what did we learn? So much, really. I mean really. But the biggest take aways were that we have accident forgiveness with our insurance, that BMW parts are as expansive as you think they might be, and that we did what was right. My son saw me do what was right. It was an accident, after all. And people have accidents. That’s not negotiable. What is negotiable is how you react when an accident happens, what you say in a time of crisis. Especially in front of your kids.

So that’s that. That’s the time, last week, when Jackson slammed my car door into a BMW and we did the right thing. I wish I could say I always do and say the “right thing,” but I can’t. But I’m calling last Thursday’s accident a win. For us anyway, we still feel really bad about the damn tail light.

M.

2 thoughts on “Accidents Happen

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