Monday, November 29, 2010

Red light, green light, brake light, crunch

So, I ruined a 10 year streak today.

For the first time in 10 years, I was involved in a car accident while I was behind the wheel—though it wasn’t my fault. I got rear-ended at a stop light. It wasn’t a big deal, or at high speed. I honestly thought there wouldn’t be any damage. But when I got out of my car and looked at my rear bumper, a piece of the other car’s license plate frame was embedded into it. The offending screw had poked right through the flimsy fiberglass and left a finger-sized hole. It was almost comical. Almost.

Oh well, exchange information, get insurance reference numbers, and go about my day.

Still, I couldn’t help thinking about my other accidents. See, having a spotless record for 10 years is nice and all—I haven’t even gotten a ticket in that time, though I have been towed once for parking where I wasn’t supposed to—but it doesn’t automagically mean that I’m a better driver than the rest of the world. I like to think that it does. I like to think that I’m situationally aware, conscientious, responsible, cautious and yet decisive when needed. I fancy myself a better-than-average driver, but I’m sure that most of the population feels the same way.

I wasn’t always a safe and responsible driver. 10 years ago I had 2 major accidents and 2 tickets in the space of 4 years, so that wasn’t such a good time for me. I’m a bit of a local legend around my high school as the idiot that crashed into the Mariner’s Cove sign… and part of the reason that there are now 2 Mariner’s Cove signs on either side of the entrance instead of one in the middle. Infamy, in this case, is not better than obscurity.

The last time I seriously rear-ended someone was in my 2000 Plymouth Neon—and I didn’t so much rear-end as try to put the hood of my car underneath the bed of the truck in front of me. Not, you know, on purpose, but that’s what happened. Same situation as today actually. Sitting at a light, a few cars back. The light turns green, traffic starts to move, I hit the gas, gently, but just as we’re getting up to speed something happens up ahead & everyone stops… well, everyone but me that is. I didn’t see all the red lights, and so had less time, and space, in which to stop, and that’s how I wound up totaling a brand-new car and being so very thankful for insurance, because a $250 deductible was much preferable to the $10,000 repair bill.

I suppose I learned my lesson. I think I’ve just been lucky, and today, a little of that luck ran out. Let’s see if I can manage another 10 years without incident. If all the other drivers on the road will agree to help me out here, I think I might just make it.

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