Paula came a cropper yesterday. (Isn't that a great phrase? I remember it from Black Fury, one of my favorite childhood books.)
I was making a left-hand turn in a construction zone and suddenly realized I'd gotten too close to a traffic cone. I slowed down and the guy behind me didn't. The front end of his van ended up halfway through Paula's back end. She had to be towed away. I'm not at all sure I'll get her back--she may go to the Great Sunrise in the Sky (where all convertibles go if they've been good).
That doesn't matter nearly as much as where the other driver will go, and I'm afraid that's not going to be a pretty story.
His first words to me were, "Please don't call the police. Please, I beg you. Don't call the police." He spoke rapid Spanish into his phone, waited, then said, "I will pay for your car. I will pay everything for your car. I will pay you more than it costs. Please don't call the police."
Actually, I couldn't call anyone because I'd left my phone at home. A woman passing by stopped and let me use her phone to call my sister and the friend I was supposed to be having lunch with. Deb and Kathy and Liz rode in like the cavalry. Honestly, I was a bit shell shocked and my head hurt--I got whipped around a little bit from the impact. It was good to have a posse.
A woman arrived to translate for the other driver. Liz called the police and my insurance company and a tow truck. I explained to the woman that I had to call the police--it's the law. My insurance might not cover the damage if I didn't.
Turns out the car does not belong to the driver. It's not clear whether he has insurance. He produced several different copies of several different policies, none of which appeared to apply to the car he was driving. I'll be very surprised if I don't end up needing my uninsured motorist coverage.
Even so, I'm more worried about this man than about Paula or how the insurance works out. This could be an expensive problem for me, but it could be life-changing for him. I hope I'm wrong, but there's some reason he was so scared of calling the police, and it can't be good.
In my world, car insurance is a given, keeping my license and tags current is nothing more than a minor inconvenience, and the police exist to help us.
Not everyone is that lucky.