Yesterday, like any other day, brings me into contact with many people. Being the type of person I am, I often "people watch" and wonder how people came to be who they are... or at least, who they appear to be in public.
And then there are those people who you just stop and wonder, "how are they still alive?"
This is one of those thoughts that can easily be applied to a woman I had the happenstance to meet yesterday, through no fault ... or even desire... of my own.
Picture this... I'm driving home after a pretty hellacious week. I'd stopped at the grocery store after leaving my 2nd job, to pick up some junk food to gorge on while we had a family movie night. What a way to wind down from the week. I'm hot, I'm tired and I just really want to get home and plant myself firmly on the couch, with my hot, soft pretzel nuggets and salsa con queso firmly in one hand, ice water in the other, cat or two in my lap. Yes, it does sound dreamy, doesn't it?
This is what I'm thinking of as I pull up in the right-hand turn lane at a red light, less than a mile from my home. So close... wish it had been a green light! I'm minding my own business when I suddenly become aware that the driver in front of me has put her car into reverse and is making her way backwards toward ME!
I can't find my horn (my steering wheel is twisted because I was ready to turn) and my eyes are so frozen on the car making it's way toward me that I can't pull them away to look down and find the horn. Instead, I begin gesturing dramatically, my hands in the air, while hoping in vain that the woman sees me in her side-view mirror.
Instead, she drove right into my passenger side fender. Smash!
What the hell?! I look at her car. It is a Honda Accord. Does Honda not equip their cars with side and rear view mirrors? Perhaps it is an add-on and now too expensive for the owner to purchase. No, they're there. I can see them. The woman opens her door and asks me, "are you hurt?" I'm not, and I get out of my car to prove it. I look at my front fender and she asks if she even did damage. Of course you ninny, you backed into my car! I nod and ask her if she wants to exchange information or if she wants to wait for the police. SHE says, "I'd rather call the police." Okeydokey, woman, your call. So we pull off to a parking lot and I make the call to the police.
Now, while waiting for the kind officer, she brings me this accident claim form from her insurance company and asks me to fill it out. Fine. I ask her for a pen, which she provides. As I fill it out, I find a piece of paper and start asking her for the same information this form asks of me. Date, time. Name of other driver. Driver's license of other driver. Address, phone number. She watches me and says, "I would rather not give you my license and I don't want to know yours so can you scribble that part out?" What's she hiding? I oblige and scribble out the license number, while telling her the officer will need her license and take that information anyway. She is shocked and looks nervous - what's she hiding?! - and asks me if that's really true. What country are you living in, woman? I stop writing and hold on to the sheet and try to block out her incessant chatter of how she's never been in an accident, her insurance rates are going to go up (of course!), thank the Lord no one was hurt. Her explanation for why she didn't see me was that her daughter (sitting in the passenger side front seat) had looked into her side mirror and seen nothing. Who was driving? Are there other mirrors to check? How about turning around and looking over your shoulder? I bite my tongue. However, my ears pick up the reason for her oddly timed reversal, "I was backing up to look for a street sign." I stare at her to see if she can see ANYTHING or if she is truly someone with such a vision impairment that she would need and wear thick glasses. No, no glasses.
You see, at this intersection, the street signs are flourescent green, lit up at night from the inside (making them extremely easy to read) and hanging from the same cording that the traffic lights themselves hang from between and right next to the lights themselves. Backing up to look for a street sign? OH I am so thankful I have a pretty good hold on any temper flare-ups.
Mr. Officer arrives. Again checks to see if anyone is injured. Takes her statement and while she is talking, I pull my drivers license and proof of registration and insurance. When he asks, I'm ready. She gives him her insurance card. He has to ask again for her license. She can't give him her proof of registration because she didn't know (?!) she had to carry it. Officer explains to her that it's the law to carry that in her car. She says she "probably has it", but that it is in her glove compartment, which is broken and she can't open it. Oh boy. Can I please just go home now?
Mr. Officer goes back to his car to call things in. He returns and comes over to me to return my documents and says to me quietly, "she's a valid driver and has valid insurance." He gives me a surreptitious "thumbs up" signal and says, "You're good!" He made me smile. I think I love Mr. Officer at this point. He then returns the woman's documents and says to her that he's not going to cite her, but that she was the at-fault person in the accident. She interrupts him, "cite me for what?" He said, and I was very strong in not rolling my eyes when he was explaining, "you should NEVER drive your car in reverse, especially at a busy, major highway intersection."
A few more small conversations exchanged between all. I feel the policeman was firmly on my side, not that the woman was putting up any fight on blame. She admitted that she did it. I get in my car. She pulls out BEHIND me. I'm thankful when she turns into the gas station and stops following me. Last thing I need is her failing to stop now, when she's behind me. And now I have the added frustration of dealing with insurance companies and adjusters, as well as repair/service centers... and then there's that pesky little $500 deductible that I don't have in my pocket.
The one phrase that continues to echo in my head? Forrest Gump shaking his finger at this woman, "Stupid is as stupid does."