Hell on Wheels
About two months ago, I was picking pizzas up. I parked, went in the pizza place, and walked back into the parking lot, just as another car was backing up towards my car. As it got closer and closer, I dropped the pizzas and started yelling "stop!" Clearly, they didn't see my car, and backed right into the rear passenger side. There wasn't a lot of damage, but I called the cops and got an incident report just to be safe. Actually, I was most miffed that I was out 30 bucks worth of pizza, which was frozen solid by that point.
I called the woman's insurance company, and they told me she preferred to handle it out of pocket. It took me a while to get an estimate, and when I finally did, I found out a new bumper was going to cost $500. That's really not any surprise, because everyone knows that any time any body shop has to lay a finger on your car, it's going to be at least 3 hundo.
Which brings me today. I had delayed calling this woman back, because I dreaded breaking the bad news. As it turns out, my intuition turned out to be uncomfortably correct.
When I told her what the repairs would cost, she acted as if I was asking for ransom money in exchange for one of her children. At first, she called me an "opportunist" who goes around looking to rip people off. Clearly, she was on to my scheme, whereby I park my car at various pizza places and wait for it to be backed into. Jackpot!
Then it got weirder. When were were waiting for the police officer to arrive, I must have told her that I went to grad school at Marquette. On the phone today, she actually called me a "bad Catholic" for asking her to pay for the damage she caused. (As it turns out, I accidentally ate meat on Good Friday - but there's no way she could have known that.) For some reason, she saw fit to mention to me that she and her husband are both pro-life, which will only be relevant if one day she runs over a fetus crossing the road.
Then, she accused me of getting into another accident and trying to pin it on her. At this point, I was thoroughly amused. I spent eight years in the Legislature fielding angry constituent calls, so I pretty much just let people go when they want to vent. She asked what insurance company I had, and I told her I had Progressive. "Only bad drivers have Progressive," she said. "So I guess it's only good drivers that back into people's cars, then," I retorted.
There were many other puzzling accusations weaved throughout the conversation. But at the end of the call, I just told her that I'd be filing a claim with my insurance, and that was that. I don't care if the bumper costs $1 or $1,000, I just want a new bumper. I was thinking about selling my car soon, and a banged up bumper is going to cost me money, so I want it fixed. I actually would feel bad about asking them for money and not repairing the damage with it, so I absolutely will. But a small part of me now wants to get a check from them, then send them a picture of me giving a "thumbs up" with my brand new iPod and swim trunks.
So here's my "Springer's Final Thought" to this whole thing. If I had called her, and she thought the repair was too expensive but offered to work with me, I would have done so. I could have gotten another estimate or bargained a little. I realize $500 is a lot of money. But since she went nuts on me, I have absolutely no problem going after her for the full amount. She made it easy for me to file a claim against her with a clear conscience. Or, at least as much of a clear conscience a bad Catholic can have.