The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly Part 1: The Ugly

As you may or may not know — depending on whether you are a friend of mine I bribed with candy to visit my website or a homeless person on the side of the road I also bribed with candy but had to lend my iPad to view it, and then it got awkward — I recently got married. In 30 minutes from now, it will be 3 months ago TODAY. :streamers:

I would love to tell you ALL about it, because for the most part, some really awesome things happened (The Good) but some really annoying things also happened (The Bad), and it’s basically the only blogworthy thing I’ve had to report in years, since life is cool, Tyler is cool, and work is cool. And I will. But today, I will start with what happened the day AFTER the wedding. The car crash that totaled my first car (The Ugly).

Let’s start with this. I *WANTED* to blog all about it the MINUTE it happened, but THE MAN (my mom) said that it probably wasn’t a good idea, liability-wise, to be broadcasting to the woman who ruined my life, using phrases like “she ruined my life” until all the proceedings were over. WELL, THEY OVER.

So there I am, cruising along the 405, car PACKED to the gills with everything from the wedding — my dress, our unity sand delicately in its vase, extra wine bottles, presents. Tyler is in the car behind me, because we had both driven. He motions that he’s getting off the highway for gas, and I follow him, because it’s getting traffic-y, and the road Sepulveda runs adjacent to the highway and is usually more open. FIRST AND ONLY MISTAKE.

I’m driving along. The “Hook” soundtrack is playing melodious tunes, and I’m generally feeling pretty good — if not a little sad that I’d just said goodbye to my parents. But still good because Tyler and I leave a scant few hours after midnight for our honeymoon in Costa Rica, for which we have not yet packed. It’s 5:30 pm. We’re gonna drop off the packed car, and head to Target for power converters and passport holders. Tyler’s behind me, I assume, changing lanes to the far right so he can go to a gas station, and I was going to continue home.

I am close to an intersection, headed north. A car in the oncoming traffic lane turns in front of me, to go east, but NO SWEAT. I’m traveling at a normal speed, and the light is green. I approach. The light changes to yellow. A woman who is perhaps not familiar with the rules of right-of-way in the oncoming traffic lane…takes this time to ALSO turn in front of me, headed east.

It’s just like they say. At first, it goes slow. I slam on the brakes. I skid. My head does some magical instant physics calculations, equaling this is about to suck. I feel sort of calm, but as some physiological response, my eyes shut RIGHT before impact. I don’t realize it at the time, but my right hand flies off the steering wheel and into my dashboard. We hit — the passenger side front of my car, and the passenger side side of her car, near her front wheel. The sound is a lot like the sounds Hollywood makes for car crashes, only like times a hundred. Squealing tires, glass breaking, metal crunching — all in one second.

I open my eyes, and I’m sitting in the middle of an intersection, my car being forcibly intimate with another car. Again, slow. Clear mind. My engine is making a funny noise; shut engine off to avoid Bruckheimer explosion. Passenger in other car? No. Driver: moving. Okay, let’s think about this. I’ll drive home or get towed, then Tyler and I will go to Costa Rica, and I’ll take it to a mechanic when we get back and be driving it again in a few weeks.

I am roused from my reverie by several loud honks from cars in the east/westbound lanes, who perhaps don’t understand the concept of A Car Crash. Wait, what am I supposed to do? Call 911? I can’t find my phone. In fact, anything that was stacked on my passenger seat has now moved unceremoniously to the passenger floorboard, including the tiara I was still wearing from the wedding. Depressing.

Keep in mind, a total of maybe 3 seconds has actually passed since our cars kissed. I’m in full-on problem-solving mode — step one: find phone; step 2: call 911; step 3: call mechanic — until…I turn into a girl. I start shaking uncontrollably, and then come the waterworks. I can’t help it. I don’t even know what happened. I was fine a few seconds ago, finding solutions — I mean, I was REALLY fine like 10 seconds ago when my CAR WASN’T F***ING CRASHED. Yeah, maybe that’s why I started crying. Really, though, it was weird.

Pedestrians start running over and checking both of us. I open my door, and I think I scared them with my crying. Through my uncontrollable shivering and sniffles, I tried to convey that I was, in fact, fine health-wise, just shaken up. It was my first car crash. A girl told me her name was Melody, and she patted my back. It made me feel better. I asked if the other lady was okay, and she said she was. Tyler came running over, his phone up to his head. He had pulled over and called 911, bless his heart.

Honking continued. REALLY? Can I please make my several-thousand-dollar wreckage more convenient for you? A man ran over and said he had seen it all, but didn’t know whose fault it was. He gave me his card, and walked to the other lady. Eventually people wandered off once they saw we were okay. Firemen came and put flares out. They asked me if I was okay or needed an ambulance, and I assured them I was fine. I asked about the other lady — she was kinda old — and they said she was fine, too.

I tell one fireman about the funny sound my car was making, and he asks me to get out so he can move my car to the side of the road, which he does. It now occurs to me that the whole “I’ll just wear pajamas on the drive home, with my day-old fancy hairdo, make-up, and tiara that I’ve just put back in” look is maybe a little ridiculous. But that’s the least of my problems.

A tow truck has to move the other lady’s car. Maybe 5 minutes have passed, when the police get there. This is a pretty efficient system. They sit me on a bench next to the other woman. My instinct is to ask how she is, but my mind calls up some episode of Saved By The Bell or something where any words said to the one party can be used against the other party. Like, if you apologize to someone that their evening plans are now ruined, that’s an admission of guilt. So I say nothing. She must have seen that same Saved By the Bell, because she says nothing, as well.

The police tell us that since neither party is injured, there’s no police report. We just exchange insurance information and let THEM sort it out. They look seasoned at this, like they see car crashes every day. I guess they do. They’re also really nice and understanding, like they maybe deal with first-timers every day, too.

The lady leaves.

A tow truck magically appears and asks if I want to use it. I don’t know. I call up my insurance, worried that they’re closed at 5:40 on a Sunday, but then I realize that the “Press 9 for emergencies” probably counts for me this once. A lady comes on…and I start crying again. “I…I was just driving and then there was a crash and now my car is crashed, and I’m sitting in it, and there’s a tow truck guy looking at me, and I don’t know who he is or if I should give him my car, and my car is FULL of crap, and I don’t know what I’m supposed to do.”

I can’t stress how nice everyone is in this whole ordeal, and the insurance lady talks me through everything I’m supposed to do, googles the tow truck guy, and finds out he’s legit. Tyler’s on the phone talking to my parents, trying to very calmly tell them to come here right now, but not too fast, but soon. If you ever have to get in a car wreck, though, it’s a lot easier if your mom and dad are a few miles away.

Before the tow truck guy can take my car, I have to unload all the crap into my parents’ rental. I spend the time waiting for them wringing my hands, pacing around, taking pictures of the site, and drinking a mango drink Tyler procured magically. He also runs to CVS to get electronic adapters for our trip GOD HE’S A GREAT GUY. I think if I’d told him I wanted a pot roast, he would have made one right there, roasted over my funny-sounding engine.

Somewhere in there, too, a nagging pain in my hand makes itself known, and I notice the backside of my hand is now twice the thickness and 100% more blue than usual. Again, I don’t remember it happening, but the only think I can think of was that it flew from the steering wheel to the dashboard. I guess I tensed everything but one arm? Dumb. If you get in a crash and are keeping score: parents close = good; random limp arm = bad.

My parents arrive, and we hug, and it’s sad, and we unpack my car, and my mom very gently tells me that, obviously, I have to go to the hospital, which seems like the DUMBEST IDEA IN TOWN (besides for turning in front of another car who has the right-of-way, can’t stress that enough) because we’ll be in the emergency room for HOURS and we have maybe HOURS PLUS 3 to be at the airport for a darn honeymoon. But moms always make sense, and she points out how much worse it would be if it got worse in a different country.

So we hopped in Tyler’s car to Cedars Sinai. I can fast forward this part. I was terrified on the drive over, seeing lunatics everywhere, seeing people going straight on yellow lights, seeing turners at yellow lights WAITING for the people going straight, basically having heart attacks the whole drive over. We wait in the waiting room and try not to get SARS from all the other people. I eat some Cheetos. I get some x-rays. I wait on a bed that looks like the triage from House. Tyler and I make jokes about what tools in the room we would use in a zombie apocalypse, since they always start in hospitals. A lot of time passes, and a doctor tells me that I have a contusion, aka a $300 bruise. Still, it’s better to know. I GUESS.

Fast forward again 2 1/2 months. My insurance is awesome in the “giving me money for a new car” realm, and a bit disappointing in the whole vindication realm. They basically say that they believe I’m not at fault, but Chicka’s insurance also thinks SHE’s not at fault, and the witness didn’t actually see anything (he looked up from the red light he was waiting at and saw a crash after it happened). I can try to bring it to “arbitration,” where a magical third party decides who’s REALLY at fault, but right now, in their records, I’m 0% at fault. If something in arbitration happened to determine I was even 1% at fault, and the other lady 99%, it would still be more than I am right now, and my premiums would go up. At the end of the day, I really only lost my deductible and the peace of mind that justice has been served and I AM RIGHT, but my insurance said they believed that to be true, so I guess that’s okay, too.

What have we learned? Parents and husbands are cool. Limp arms are bad. Car crashes are scary. Mango drinks are delicious.

And actually, I take it back. The other driver did not ruin my life. I am sometimes melodramatic. She made it inconvenient for a time, but so many worse things could have happened, I don’t even want to think of it. My grandmother says, “if money can fix a problem, it’s not a problem.” And she lived through the depression! I still wish the other driver had not turned in FRONT of me, sure, but she did not ruin my life, and I’m glad she’s okay, too.

Thank you for reading. I hope none of you or anyone I know or me again ever has to deal with another car crash. Wear your seatbelts. Stop at yellow lights a full 3 blocks away. Okay, maybe not that one.

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