After an evening sharing a few beers with a friend last night, I have to be honest and say I felt a little fuzzy in the head this morning. Nothing too drastic, you understand, but I wouldn’t have performed particularly strongly in a surprise test, should one have been sprung on me.
Still, the day was going as planned – I dropped Elisha off at nursery and went off on the last couple of miles on my journey to work. At the notoriously busy roundabout near the tech park the traffic was queueing an unusually long way back. So much so that I actually got out of my car to have a look at why we were all sitting still. I couldn’t see anything, but noted that the glare was exceptionally strong, so went about putting my sunglasses on when I was back in the car.
Following the rest of the queue, I got the the roundabout behind an old lady who would later turn out to be called Grace. She edged forward as each car in front of her darted across the mini-roundabout in turn. I followed suit, up until it was Grace’s turn. She started to drive off, and I went to follow, looking to my right I could see a white car absolutely rocketing towards the roundabout from the exit to our left.
I thought to myself, “he’s really travelling, she (Grace) should make it, but I’m not going to.” With that, I went to hit the brake. Before my foot could get to the pedal there was a bang and I’d tail-ended Grace’s car with it two-thirds of the way onto the roundabout.
Turns out that Grace had decided she wasn’t going to make it before the Mr Speedy arrived, so she had exersized her right to change her mind, by way of stamping on the brakes.
Even though I didn’t see it coming, I knew what had happen straight away. Actually, that’s a lie – I was so sure that Grace had already left the scene that I thought that I was the one who had been shunted, so I kind of did a double take and looked in the mirror. It didn’t take too many nano-seconds longer for me to figure out that I’d messed up, though, and Grace was out of the car in a shot, clutching a piece of paper and a pen. Maybe she’d been expecting me.
I jumped out and offered a sheepish apology; “I’m sorry – I thought you’d gone across.” I said.
“I was going to, but that man was going so fast…” Grace offered, almost equally sheepishly, considering she was the wronged party here. She looked like older Rose from Titanic, which made me feel awful for putting her in this situation through my carelessness.
In the next couple of minutes we exchanged details, before getting on with our respective journeys. Mine was the short half a mile to the car park at work, where I stepped out to inspect the damage. Under the dented hood, the small plastic pins that had held the bumper in place, but broken on impact, sat neatly on the bodywork in front of the engine bay. Casting my untrained eye over the mechanical parts, I could see that nothing was leaking, which I took as a good sign.
Coincidentally I had previously booked the car into the Honda garage to have a faulty window seal replaced – something that they had spotted during the service a couple of weeks back and had offered to do under warranty. It’s that kind of service that has me trusting the folks at Lookers Honda, so I thought I’d ask their opinion on the damage when I went down later that day.
It was a long wait in the reception area while I waited on the verdict, I can tell you. I’d taken my PSP with me, but my heart wasn’t in it and I ended up just sitting there dwelling on the events of the morning. I took comfort in the fact that Elisha wasn’t in the car, and that neither myself or anyone else had been hurt. Selfish as it seems, it wasn’t that comforting.
The Honda engineer eventually came back with the news that it was probably going to amount to an insurance claim, as the spare parts alone would total over £700. Seeing my obvious disappointment he said he’d put together two estimates; one that detailed the cost if I was to pay for it myself, the other if my insurance company was paying out. The perks of being a loyal customer, it turns out.
The remainder of the day at work sucked pretty badly. I had a document to write and a progress meeting with my managers at 4pm, but my head wasn’t really all there and I don’t think I brought my A game with either the document or my contribution to the meeting. By half past five I couldn’t wait to get home. I carefully left the car park, only to have to break sharply for some moron who wasn’t indicating, but going all the way round the roundabout outside work. Holey crap, those things are accidents waiting to happen.
Once I got home I made both Elisha and myself some dinner, then called Grace on the number she’d left on the back of a paper CD sleeve I’d given her to write on. Unfortunately, in her fluster, she’d given me her sister’s number by mistake. They quickly realised what had happened and said they’d get her to call me back, which she did a few minutes later.
“Hello, is that Robert?” She said.
“Yes, Grace – thanks for calling. I just wanted to apologise again for what happened today. I am so sorry – it was stupid mistake.” I blurted. “I just wanted to check that you’re okay.”
She couldn’t have been nicer about it, actually, saying that she had no whiplash or anything like that, she’d just been a bit shocked. Me too. She said that she was sorry that she was in an accident with such a nice boy (I figure she meant that in the old fashioned way), and thanked me for calling.
I felt much better after the call, just because I knew that I hadn’t done anything worse than dent her car and kiss goodbye to five years of no claims discount. Financially it’s going to hit like the fist of an angry god, though. Our premium has been pretty hefty since we first bought a car here in Liverpool, and I don’t see that changing after the above – if anything it’ll be much more expensive now.
At the end of the day, though, money comes and goes, and cars are irrelevant pieces of metal that can be repaired or replaced.
The fact that everyone walked away seems much more comforting now than it did earlier in the day.