Thursday, December 24, 2009

It Could Have Been Worse!

I’m humming Christmas tunes to myself, and heading home having received a surprise gift from the boss in a ½ day off, my mind turning over the stuff I want to do with this bonus. Only 15 minutes from my destination, I slow a bit to make room for a white pickup coming off the ramp onto the roadway. He’s no sooner in front of me when “CRACK” something hits the windshield. The steering wheel literally vibrates from the impact. The bed of his truck is full of junk. Some of it looks like torching equipment. I follow the truck to the lights up ahead. The first is green, I proceed. The second is red, so I honk a few good ones, throw it in park, put on the flashers and jump out.

The driver sees me coming and cracks the door.
“Something’s come off your truck and given my windshield one hell of a star burst.” I tell him.
“What was it?” He asks.
I’ll be damned if I know. It happened so fast!” I say as I look into the pile of junk in the truck.
He steps out to take a look at the window. Then turns to me and shrugs his shoulders.
“Oh well, just road hazard.”
“What?” I ask.
“Look” he says. I don’t have insurance and it’s just road hazard anyway.
“You don’t have insurance?” I ask incredulously. I’ve heard of such things but never ran into someone who didn’t carry any. The truck looks pretty good so I’m surprised. He should at least have liability.
“My truck is paid for” he says as if that explains why a person wouldn’t have insurance.
I can see my Dad now, a retired insurance guy listing the reasons someone should never be without at LEAST liability.
I already have his plate number, and he gives me his name, which I write down.
He turns on his heals, jumps into the truck and takes off.
I return to the car and ….yank yank….CRAP, I’ve locked myself out! The engine is still running and here I am out in the cold wind.

I get myself out of the road, and call my husband on his cell. It goes straight to voice mail. CRAP again. I call the office instead and tell the lady who I am, who I’m looking for and that it’s an emergency. She puts me on hold to go look for Andy. Once I’m on hold I look up and notice a state trooper coming toward me. I hadn’t even noticed that he pulled up behind my car. I tell him what’s happened and that I’m on hold waiting for my husband. I’m hoping he can bring the spare key.
“Unless you can open it for me?” I ask.
“Sorry, no.”
The trooper puts out flares, and calls dispatch to send a local cop. “Just a courtesy as this is their jurisdiction.” Since we are standing there waiting for the local and my husband, I strike up a conversation.
“And I thought my day was going good. First I get a bonus ½ day off, but then this happens to my window and then the guy tells me he has no insurance. Don’t things come in threes? What next? Maybe I’ll run out of gas.”
“It could be worse” he says. “Today is my day off.”
I stare at him a moment, start to chuckle, put my hand on his shoulder and say “you win!”

I change the subject, and tell the trooper that I can’t believe folks drive around without insurance.
“I got hit in the cruiser by an uninsured motorist” he tells me.
“You’re kidding!” I say as I look the cruiser up and down.
“Not this one” is his next comment. And we both grin looking at the sparkling new vehicle.

He gets back in the cruiser to talk on the radio. He asks me a few times if I want to get out of the cold. I politely decline. On the third time around, he indicates that its only 20 out and who knows what the wind chill factor is.
“Thank you officer, but I’d rather not get into the habit of sitting in the back of a cruiser” I say.
“No” he says.” “What you really don’t want is to get in the habit of sitting in the back of a cruiser in handcuffs!”
I really start laughing now, and walk around to climb into the cruiser. It is certainly much warmer in here, and it smells good too. That is when I notice two pizza boxes on the seat beside me.
“Oh damn!” I say. “It looks like I’ve interrupted your lunch. And maybe not yours alone!”
Then he tells me he’s been on duty for 16 hours and was just heading home to have lunch with his wife. I ask him his name and then apologize for the cold pizza.

The local cop finally pulls up behind us. It has now been 45 minutes since the first one has arrived. The trooper gets out, walks around to let me out. (Not a good feeling having no control over the door handles.) The local cop doesn’t seem in a good mood. He has his all business face on. The trooper tells him what happened to me, and the cop takes notes. We see Andy coming around but he’s stuck in traffic. Some of this traffic is my fault too! The trooper goes off to eat cold pizza leaving me to chat with the local.

Since I can’t get my registration out he’s asking my name and address, you know, all the details. He calls it into dispatch wanting to make sure I am who I say I am. We talk about the incident so he can make a report. While he’s writing I notice his name tag.
“I have a couple of neighbors by that last name” I tell him.
Without missing a beat the office says “Yup, and one of them is my brother.”
There is a slight pause.
“Jeremy is your brother!” I ask incredulously.
He nods.
“Gee this day keeps getting better and better. Now you even know where I live!”
The cop finally cracks the smallest discernable grin, but it vanishes quickly when Andy finally arrives with the spare key. We wrap up our question and answer session. I get some pointers on what to do next and head home.

I don’t know why things happen as they do, only that they happen for a reason. During riding season we look at our local finest as the enemy to be avoided when we want to open the throttle for a bit more wind therapy. Today however, my gift was getting to know Scott, and how he works lots of overtime so the wife can stay home with the kids. That Hunter takes his job seriously, but has a compassionate side too, wanting me to understand what all my options are in the details he was willing to share. I came away with a new respect in what dealing with the public must be like; it’s a Christmas gift of empathy and understanding.

Things indeed could have been worse.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing.

Ride on,

mq01 said...

im glad that it turned out ok pat. happy holidays to you and yours!!!

Tom said...

So much for getting out early! Hope you had a good holiday anyway.

Willie aka NomadWillie said...

Enjoyed the writing...Happy NY to you and Andy