Wednesday, January 16, 2008
i hereby banish hummers for all eternity
Being a driver as my stated occupation for the past year and a half I've become much more of a "city driver." I used to get made fun of for driving "like a grandma" and being overly cautious and slow. (I never told anyone that this partly had to do with one of my friends gruesomely dying in a car crash two weeks after I got my license...and a week following her death I was a passenger in a car when my best friend who was driving got in an accident...luckily we were all ok. But that was enough car trauma for December of '98.)
But now I'm swift behind the wheel. My job is exhausting because not only do I worry about obeying all the traffic laws, but I am responsible for a 13-year-old kid most of the time I'm behind the wheel and therefore have to keep an extra careful eye out for the enormous amounts of idiots on the road.
I'm happy to say that up until my stint as a "personal driver" the only thing I've ever gotten pulled over for was tinted windows (twice. once of which i had to go to court) and for "drunk driving" when I was 20 and had never had alcohol in my life, when clearly the cop had nothing better to do than follow me around town. And accident free no less.
Here's the problem, especially in urban settings: People do not respond to horns. Max's mom speculates that this is due to so many people using their horns at unnecessary junctures, so peoples' ears are just immune to recognizing a legit horn when they hear one.
I.E. You're about to reverse your utility van into my car while I'm stopped at a stop light! (which is what happened to me last year)...or I.E. Your ginormous HUMMER is about to MERGE into my drivers seat!
This is what happened. I noticed the driver suddenly decide she needed to be in my lane as I merged onto the Dan Ryan from I55 on the way home from picking Max up from school--headed right towards the driver's seat of our small Volvo. Thanks to my acquired driving skills, I was quick to react, pressing the pedal to the metal and my hand to the horn and speeding up enough so she only managed to hit the back corner instead of flattening my sorry ass. She then proceeded to drive around me, wherein I assumed she was leaving the scene of the accident, as I had already pulled over. I immediately began following her, verbally expressing my disbelief. I noticed as she switched lanes, that she was in fact motioning for me to follow her down the Canalport exit. I couldn't see before because she was seated about five feet above my vantage point. Once off the expressway she pulled into an alley and I'm thinking, oh shit she's gonna shoot us.
Instead she took a lap around her huge-ass vehicle, where she obviously found no damage because she's driving a machine, then walked around mine.
"Well. What do you want to do?" she asks me. No "I'm so sorry" or even a "My bad" thrown in my direction. Just impatient eyes batting purple eyeliner in my direction.
"Call the cops," I replied, even-toned.
"They're not going to come because our cars can drive and we're not injured."
You don't deserve to call that thing a car, I thought."Hm, yeah I guess you're right. That's what happened when some guy hit me last year."
"So we should just exchange information then."
"Fine," I said.
As I shuffled through the glove compartment for the insurance information, I saw her already waiting for me. "This is unbelievable," I said to Max.
"She's a dumbass," he said.
"Well she hasn't even apologized, so I agree with you."
With my driver's license, insurance card, and car registration info in hand, I approached her next to the chunk of gold on wheels.
"What are you writing down?" she asked me.
I saw she already had already written her name, phone number and driver's license number on a torn piece of a yellow envelope flap. "My name, address, phone number, driver's license number and insurance info..."
"Oh you're putting your license too? Fine."
I started copying everything down on the back of a piece of paper which already had directions written on the other side (I hope not to anywhere important...).
"Could you write a little faster?" she asked two seconds later. "I have somewhere to be."
"You just hit my car!" I half-shrieked, bewildered by this woman's nonchalance.
"I understand that, but this doesn't have to take all day."
What nerve! I thought and rolled my eyes. Here I am not even freaking out or screaming at her like a lot of people probably would were they in my shoes, and she has the audacity to tell me to write faster?!
I handed her the piece of paper, and then she told me that the "car" actually isn't hers and she's on her way to work, so she'll call me later tonight or tomorrow morning.
Sensing that there was something fishy going on, seeing as she never actually showed me her drivers license nor had any insurance info on her, regardless of whether it was her vehicle or not, I said, "I don't mean to be a total bitch, but would you mind if I called this number you wrote down to make sure it's correct?"
"Sure, go ahead. That's a good idea," she insisted.
She climbed up into her driver's seat and answered after a ring. I saw her holding the phone in her side mirror and her "hello" in my ear. Before I backed out of the alley, Max suddenly started yelling, "Write down her license plate number! Quick!"
"Oh good call!" I wrote down the seven numbers and then reversed onto the road, allowing the Hummer to back out behind me.
I called Max's mom and left her a message about the accident, my heart pounding in my chest. Even though the collision was not my fault, it's still not the easiest thing to relay to a mom who is paying me to safely and responsibly transport her child. I drove with Max straight to the police station on Larabee and Division because that's where I had to go last year when I got hit. As soon as I started the relaying the accident and said, "I was driving west on 90..." the Chicago cop interrupted and said, "If it happened on the highway, we can't help you. You have to contact the state police." He wrote down their phone number at the top of the Hummer info.
Max and I had both complained about headaches before the accident occurred, and now we had to leave the station both rejected and dejected. Before leaving the parking lot I called the state patrol, who informed me that the state police only go to certain stations and the one closest to our home in Wicker Park would be 5151 N. Milwaukee. "But don't go now," he said. "It's rush hour, so it'll be hard to find someone available."
After dinner I headed to the recommended police station, which ended up being all the way in Jefferson Park. And the woman there told me the same goddamn thing. As soon as I mentioned "I90/94" she said, "Oh we can't help you here."
"Well that's funny because I was specifically told to come to this location." Apparently I misunderstood the patrolman earlier and thought he meant the addresses he gave me were "state police stations" but really they're just Chicago police stations where state patrol will actually stop by.
She picked up a phone and called the state trooper line, then hung up and said, "If you want to wait here, a state patrol can be here in at least an hour."
"No. No I don't. I want to go to bed."
"Well since there were no injuries, you can report the accident over the phone at this number between 7 and 9 tomorrow morning."
"I wish someone would have told me that FIVE hours ago!" I said.
She apologized and said she didn't want to come across as the bad guy, to which I apologized and said, "I know it's not your fault...it's just been a long day. Thanks for your help."
The following morning I called the provided number and after going through a bunch of automated menus, spoke with a human who took down my name and number and gruffly informed me that someone would contact me after 9 a.m.
Around 10:30 I got a phone call from State Trooper W., (I'll stick with initials here) who I liked right from the start because she sounded like Wanda from Curb Your Enthusiasm. I gave her the full report. She then proceeded to call me back at least four more times. First to tell me both the driver's license number and license plate number I provided her were registered to an Anna W., not a Leslie W. (same last name). Then she called to inform me that L.W.'s voicemail says it's Deanna, which is neither name we thought we were dealing with, so Trooper W. left her a message threatening possible arrest. Then she called back just to inquire whether I had three-way calling on my phone so we could potentially call her together and she would "take over." I didn't, so we hung up and a few minutes later she called back to inform me that instead she "went ahead and blocked the number."
"She answered and I said, 'Leslie!' and she said, 'Yeah!' So I said, 'Oh good it's you. This is State Trooper W.' So anyway, I think I scared her, but that's a good thing, and since you've totally overextended yourself in trying to get this resolved even though it's not your responsibility to do so, I want to make sure I help you get to the bottom of this."
"Well, thank you. I really appreciate everything you're doing," I said. And I meant it.
Trooper W.'s best call, though, was the following:
"Miss Liebovich. I'm sorry to be bothering you again, but I just wanted to double check something with you."
"No problem at all. What can I do for you?"
"Well I just ran Leslie through the system, and it says here she also has a Hummer registered to her name. You didn't say the license plate you saw was 'BOOBS 82,' correct?"
I almost spit out my hot tea. This is turning out to be possible inspiration for a horrible rap music video, I thought.
"No," I said, trying to restrain from laughing. "I think I would have remembered that. It was..." and I listed off the 7 numbers.
"Ok cause incidentally the name you gave me also owns a Hummer with the license plate 'BOOBS 82.'"
My friend Zach asked if she was born in '82, but she's almost 50, so no. My friend Giana e-mailed me and said, "I wonder if the 82 has significance or it was just that 1-81 were already taken." And my cousin, Barb, said, "I bet that's when she got 'em [boobs] done!" Perfect.
I've spoken to Leslie twice. Once in between Trooper W.'s updates, when she (Leslie) said she'd call be by 3:00. And again at 7:45 when I called her and said, "I thought I was going to hear from you by three." She said she'd been stuck in traffic and would call me in 20 minutes. Forty-five minutes later she called and [finally!] transcribed her insurance info, stating that all the previous info she'd given me was her sister's. And still no "sorry."
So now I'm just waiting for All-State to call me for my dissertation about the accident, so I can consequently get the deductible I need to get the massive dent out of the Volvo. Until then, I guess it's like people--for every scar, there is a story.
I maintain what I said in my posting about the dog insemination, when a Hummer almost demolished myself, Max and the two dogs, one recently impregnated--If you want to show-off that you're that disgustingly wealthy, why don't you just sew some hundreds together and wear a money suit--not drive a war machine like a fucking maniac!
All I can say is if one's going to get hit by Hummer, this at least resulted in the best possible scenario.