Thursday, January 17, 2008

Asleep at the Wheel.

I'm now into the second week of my son's life, and I'm trying to get adjusted to the new paradigm. Understandably my home has been reorganized to suit his needs. There is baby paraphernalia situated throughout the house. Everything is aimed toward keeping him content- which means that he's not screaming his head off. He's definitely got a "fussy time" during the evening, as we were led to expect. This usually corresponds with M.'s breaking point, as she is used to winding down during that period of the day. While I can keep an eye on him, I'm (obviously) not built to meet his ultimate needs. So I mostly linger about helplessly, trying to figure out what I can contribute to his mother's happiness.

Despite the fact that I'm getting nearly my usual amount of sleep, the stress of the situation is taking a weird toll on me. Last night on my way home from work, I fell asleep at the wheel. I had just gone through one green light and nodded off within the forty feet before the next stoplight. I jerked my head up just in time to experience hitting the bumper of the car ahead of me. Luckily I was only going about 3-5 mph at most. I jumped out of my car and went to see if the people ahead of me were alright. It was a middle-aged woman with her grandson in the back seat. Naturally she got out of her car complaining about being jerked about. I noticed that neither her nor her boy had been wearing their seat belts, but I refrained from commenting on that oversight.

The woman was understandably quite upset, and she was looking for injury where none existed. It was easy to see that there was no damage to her car, other than a bit of chipped paint on her back end. Inexplicably, she insisted that her entire bumper was cracked. There was no point in arguing with her- she was already worked up as it was. I asked her what she wanted to do and she said I should follow her and pull off on the side of the road. But when I got back in my car, I saw that she had reconsidered. She wanted to exchange information right where we were, blocking traffic and all. I had no problem with that. Maybe she thought I was going to blow by her, making a hasty escape? For some reason she kept lamenting the lack of visible police, as if they had nothing better to do than wait around for minor bumper busters.

When she got back in her car and drove off, I followed her. I wasn't sure if that was what she intended, so I played it safe and pulled behind her when she parked illegally off to the side of the road. I wanted to make sure she didn't try to pin a hit-and-run on me. She exited her car again and looked at me inquisitively. Did I want to call the cops? No, I was just making sure she had everything she needed. She stated that she was going to call in a claim. I was resigned to that, as there was nothing else I could do in the situation that would be appropriate. If she does call this in to her insurance company, they will likely get a hearty laugh out of the incident. They will collect their deductible and raise her insurance. Pennsylvania is a "no-fault" state.

As I said before, the only damage on her end was a barely noticeable break in her paint. If she takes her car into a body shop, they will likely be stupefied by the connection between her perception and reality. Although she'd be foolish to file a claim, I have a suspicion that she might. She was obviously affronted by what happened, and she will want to get some type of immediate satisfaction. Even though she has every right to do so, I hope she doesn't. Every involvement, no matter how insignificant, is used by insurance companies to jack up premiums. I spend too much time in my car, and it seems like I get into these minor accidents about once a year. As scary as it is to nod off while driving, I'm thankful that it didn't happen on the highway. That could have been ugly.

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