Thursday, January 6, 2011

Tales from the Lost Months: Jury Duty Ice Road Trucking/Subaruing Blues (PART 3)

While waiting for the wife, I got out of my car to go survey the damage. I had to walk down to Mr. Costello’s driveway and back along it to get a view of the passenger side of the car. It did indeed appear that I had struck the large rock there with the front right corner of the vehicle that would explain the sudden stop on a dime it had done, which hitting only the bush would not have. One of the body panels in the front had popped loose and there was some definite cratering of the bumper, but the headlight was not smashed. I had no idea what the internal damage might be, but the car was still running just fine and no warning lights had popped up. Could it be only cosmetic? They do make Subarus pretty stout, and all.

I didn’t fully appreciate it until later, but it was probably a good thing I went off the road at the particular spot I had. While the rest of the right side of the road along the blind curve was dotted with varying sized rocks and shrubs, there were places where I could have gone between them and possibly off the edge of the road, over the embankment into Mr. Costello's driveway. Potentially, this might have rolled the car. Given enough momentum sent me over the far edge of his driveway and down the rest of his very steep front yard into the trees far below. Or, if I’d gone off further down the road, near the mouth of his driveway, I might have continued over the edge of the same hill there, crashing through trees on my way down toward the stream bed. For all intents, I’d crashed perfectly.

I knocked on Mr. Costello’s door to let him know I was lodged in his shrubbery. He wasn’t home at that moment, but drove up a few minutes later, about the same time the wife arrived on foot. He'd been out driving his own wife to work.

“Sorry about your irises," the wife said.

Mr. Costello was pretty jovial about the whole thing. He was just glad I was all right and that we’d let him know about the crash, as an earlier neighbor had slid down the hill and taken out his mailbox. They'd not left so much as a note about it, either. He told us not to worry about the plants, or the spruce, or the rock, because he and his wife had been planning on tearing it all out to put in new railroad tie supports at the base of the embankment next summer and we’d just got a head start on the demo for the job.

With Mr. Costello’s help, we pulled all the smaller rocks from beneath my car and then made a couple of attempts at getting the Subaru unstuck from the spruce and back on the road. All such efforts, however, resulted in the car sliding further down the embankment, so we decided to leave it for the tow truck.

There on the spot, I phoned my insurance company. I don’t want to say their name here, so as not to sully their otherwise stellar standing in my opinion, but it’s the same Texas-based insurance company to which patron and loon Barbara Turdmurkle once drove me nigh unto insanity in her attempt to have me fax them something, during my days at the "liberry." Normally, the company is a delight to deal with on all levels, and I stand by that. However, for some reason the rep I spoke to that morning was less than the usual picture of efficiency. Perhaps she was simply not functioning with a full cup of coffee. Or maybe it was because they knew they would soon have to pay for something, rather than just letting me shovel money in their direction.

Naturally, there were 500 questions in the claims process. I understand this, but wish I'd had the forethought to wait until I was back in my warm home to answer them, rather than in the 10 degree driveway. Some questions were straightforward, such as “How fast were you going?” (Answer: “Well, I’d say probably 5 to 8 mph when I started down the hill, then much faster after I started sliding.”) However, the lady I spoke with, being a Texan, couldn't seem to wrap her mind around a key concept in the road-construction philosophy often used here in the Mountain State.

“Did the accident happen on a four lane road or two lane road?” she asked.

“It happened on a one lane road.”

“So, a one WAY road,” she said.

“No, a one LANE road,” I corrected.

“A one lane road?”

“Yes, a ONE. LANE. ROAD.” There followed a long pause, so I added, “Cars move in both directions, but I assure you it is a one lane road.”

“But... if cars move both directions, it’s a two lane road.”

I had to pause myself, then, and take a nice freezing breath of air before explaining an inherent truth about West Virginia: it’s a state geographically made of mountains, hills and hollers and the vast majority of the non-highway and non-city street back and side roads are basically one lane strips of asphalt which, if you’re lucky, will accommodate two vehicles passing one another due to the gravel shoulders on either side, provided the vehicles are moving slow enough.

“Believe me,” I said, “no one’s flying down this road. The posted speed limit is 20 and I was only going about 5 until I started sliding.”

She still didn’t seem to believe me, but wisely let the matter go. Focus then turned to the fact that my policy does not come with rental car reimbursement, so I’d have to pay for that should I need one. Eventually the questions were all answered, she said they'd be in touch soon and she then put me through to roadside assist to arrange a tow truck to haul my car to the local Subaru dealership, hereafter to be known as King Subaru (not its real name).

The wife and I hoofed it back home so I could await the call from roadside assist and she could finish getting ready for shopping. She offered to hang around until after the tow came, in case I wanted to go with her, but I said I was done for the day and would likely just go back to bed and hope for better things on the morrow.

A bit later in the morning, the courthouse lady called back to tell me that I was being placed into Jury Group 2. She also reiterated how I was always welcome to phone them and bow out should weather or mere inconvenience present itself. However, group 2 would not be needed for service until the following Monday.

"Oh. I might have a car by then," I said.

I could not have been more wrong.


1 comment:

crsunlimited said...

Please tell me that you didn't chance upon an SUV made in one of the magical years where car designers decided that the bumper should be part of the frame, and that if said bumper is damaged the vehicle is considered "Totaled" due to it being classified as the frame being bent.

My brother in law had just such a problem. One night while driving home on a 4 lane highway he hit a horse. Still not sure where it came from as there are no horse ranches in this part of Missouri. Even though the truck was drivable, and only appeared cosmetic his insurance totaled it out because of this bumper/frame problem.

Also count yourself lucky you didn't break any lights as the cover reflectors for those are more expensive to replace on one side then it is to replace an entire fender.