My first day of PA work on B&^#$@!5 was done. It was obvious I didn’t get the job. But a day’s pay is a day’s pay. No one can take that away from me right? Wrong.
If you’re not familiar with driving in Los Angeles, it is absolutely crazy. Everyone thinks they are a rock star, weaving in and out of lanes as fast as they can, cars nest in your blind spot, and when you exit a highway someone cuts you off on the off ramp because they won’t wait in the mile long line of cars (cause I guess the rules for clubbing is the same for road etiquette, it’s not cool to wait in line.) And to top it all off motor cycles speed between the lanes of traffic. I honestly don’t know how any of them are still alive. That being said, you can understand why avoiding highways can be preferable.
So a few miles from my apartment (ironically at the off ramp of the highway I was avoiding) I go to make a right turn. I’m in the far right lane and as I’m making the turn a car hits into me. Fantastic! My poor car is less than a month old. We pull over and people immediately start honking at us. Apparently, from 4:30-6:30, there are no stops allowed. SO we pull into the narrow nearby parking lot. Before I can even get a good look at the other driver, someone comes out of the flower shop (whose parking lot, I assume, we are occupying.)
“You can’t park here! This is parking for that apartment complex,” The man interjects.
“We just had an accident, where are we supposed to go?” I reply.
“I don’t care. It’s a terrible intersection. Two to three times a day someone gets into an accident here.”
“Okay, well, just let us exchange information and we’ll be out of your hair.”
The flower shop guy gives me a dismissive gesture and walks off. I turn and the woman who hit me is now in my face, “You don’t have plates, give me your VIN number!” She was referring to my temporary dealer plates, (see new car.)
“Calm down. Let’s exchange insurance.”
“Why do you need my insurance? It’s your fault,” she insists.
As we argued and took pictures of the damage with our phones, I got a good look at the intersection. It was really chaotic and confusing. Yes the right two lanes are both turn only lanes. But the line delineations into the turn of the intersection are really sharp and unintuitive.
After she finished with her incomprehensible diatribe, I told her I would be right back.
“Don’t you run off! I’ve got your fake license plate!”
I couldn’t tell if she was being sarcastic or stupid. But I didn’t let that stop me from going to the flower shop guy. He was telling some story to two of his buddies. Who hangs out in a flower shop?
“Excuse me, you were saying that you get 2-3 accidents a day here? Can I get your name.”
“Nope,” he replied sharply.
“Excuse me?” I attempted again.
“You already said that, you’re sounding like a broken record.”
“It’s just–” but before could complete the thought.
“Look, I don’t want to get involved, I don’t want to be a witness, and I sure as hell am not going to testify.”
“Hey, whoa, I’m not going to court over this. I just want to tell my insurance company all the–” One again he cut me off before I could complete the thought.
“Don’t go telling your insurance nothing. It’s going to come down to your word versus hers and you’re both going to end up paying and you both are going to be ‘at fault.’ Just go out and tell that lady, it sucks it happened but agree to pay yours and she agrees to pay hers and have that be the end of it. And don’t be really stupid and call a cop. They’ll write you a ticket just for callin’ em out here in rush hour.”
I stumbled out of the flower shop in a blank haze. I had never not told an insurance company about an accident. Did I have to tell them? Would they raise my rates just for being in an accident?
I looked over her damage and mine. It looked like she just had some paint rubbed on her car from mine. None of hers was structural or even chipped her paint for all I could tell. Mine was the one with the dent in the side. About the size of a baseball. Not massive, but still a shame for such a new car. But the paint job is the real killer.
“Look, normally the first thing I’d do in a car accident is call my insurance company. It’s what I’m inclined to do now. But that guy said in this case it may not be such a good idea.”
I relayed the flower shop guy’s words as best I could. And I must have done a pretty good job because she seemed to agree.
“Okay, but if you change your mind be sure to give me a call. Sleep on it, talk it over with your husband and see how you feel.” I affirmed in a reassuring manner.
With that, we parted ways. It felt like I was now part of a conspiracy. I’ve always done things by the book. How badly could this bite me in the ass? What if she called her insurance without telling me? Would that make me look like I was hiding something? Would that create or insinuate a sense of guilt? Can insurance penalize me for not reporting it? I drove home extra cautiously as I listened to the Obama/Romney debate on NPR.