A first – and a last


Dear girls,
I thought I’d better write you with details of my first – first! – traffic accident so you aren’t taken by surprise if you see it in the paper.

Never mind the sordid details. Especially since I was found to be at fault. Briefly, as I was turning right off Crosstown Road and onto Peachtree Parkway, a pickup truck came through the 4-way. I watched the truck as long as it was passing where I was waiting, and I started to pull out behind him.
To my chagrin, a terrible crash, and an empty 55-gallon drum rolled right across my windshield, and everything came to a halt. I sat there for a moment, gripping the wheel and relieved to see that no airbag was deployed.

I got out and started walking toward the truck – when I noticed the trailer behind the truck. It was a nice big workman’s steel utility trailer with ladders and barrels and stuff it, or at least, that’s how I saw it. The left quarter-panel of our Toyota was toast, yet the headlight survived. Amazingly, I heard no sound of breaking glass and the hood was unscratched.

In my mind, the truck driver passed me and whipped his trailer into my lane. It was clearly a case the insurance companies would settle and I’d get at least one column out of it…

Nonetheless, I came up out of the Toyota and, in my most authoritative voice, barked, “What were you thinking, swinging your trailer into my lane like that?” He said, “Are you OK?”

“Yeah, I’m OK now, but wait ’til my husband sees this. Then I won’t be OK.”

I was trying to make Daddy out to be a hulking demon with revenge on his mind. He loves that little green Toyota and kept it in perfect condition. I called him to come, since I was less than a quarter-mile away. But there was no answer, and you may remember that he hates telephones and sometimes won’t answer. I just wanted him to come and make everything all right. This is why I carry a cell phone. No answer. I called again.

By the third time I punched in our number, he finally answered. It was a difficult connection, standing next to the Parkway with traffic slowing down to see who had earned the blue lights.

Another very nice man stopped behind us to ask if we needed a witness; he had seen everything. I thanked him and told him I’d called the police, and since I was not at fault, I might need him.

The cop was great, took statements from everybody, and examined the vehicles involved. When he came back from checking the right rear side of the trailer, I chirped, “Is it a chargeable case?”

“Unfortunately, ma’am, it is. For you.”

“I guess it wouldn’t help if I told you I’d never had a citation for anything in the 50-something years I’ve been a licensed driver.” He smiled slightly and shook his head.

When I tried the “little old lady on her way to church” plea, he started looking like he’d heard it all and didn’t really care to hear any more.
Both pleas were true, by the way. I was on my way to a special service at church.

Daddy finally got there – by golf cart. His set of car keys was AWOL and the golf cart was the only transportation he could locate quickly. I kept thanking God, first, that no one was hurt and, second, that a quarter-mile on a golf cart was long enough for Daddy to cool off a little. He and the other driver and the police officer yanked this and that off the fender so it could be driven home. The would-be witness left us but not before I could thank him for being kind enough to stop.

The young man whose trailer got through this fracas unscathed headed back to his truck. I followed him and apologized for coming across as hostile. He actually hugged me and said again, “I’m just glad nobody was hurt.” Poor guy. He works two jobs to make ends meet and I’m sure all he had on his mind was getting home to a hot meal. I thanked him again for being so kind.

Not everyone is, you know.

My own dilemma began to emerge before me. In the first place, Dave Satterthwaite carries a $1,000 deductible on the cars. And the fine. Never having had a moving violation, I figured on maybe $50. Peachtree City’s excellent website has a clear and simple menu, and I think it ran $160-something for failure to yield right-of -way.

I could have gone to court and risked getting a worse punishment because the judge was having a bad day, but it seemed better to get it out of my life as soon as I could. I paid online, the only way I could do so with a credit card. When I went back to the city’s website again and discovered the price of a failure-to-yield appeared to have gone up a little – to $243. For a failure-to-yield with injuries or property damage.

If you expected me to go before the judge and argue the fine or the invisible utility trailer, I’m sorry to disappoint. I just wanted it to be over. I paid the fine and hired a body work guy recommended by a friend in the business. The car looks beautiful and I’ve paid my debt to society.

Just thought I’d tell you,