Wednesday, September 30, 2009

minor damage

We were in a little fender-bender last Thursday. My poor car, it's like it has bad karma or something. Up until I was side-swiped in that hit-n-run four years ago, I hadn't been in an accident, not even a minor one, since I rolled my parents van back in '86 (or was it '87?). It was kind of like I'd had my quota at that point, since that one was so serious.
It was only three years ago that I was rear-ended and it took forever for the other drivers' insurance to take care of me, while I drove around without rear blinkers or tail lights, feeling unsafe and silly hanging my arm out the window to signal. I'm still not totally over that.

So last week, driving down State in Orem, I realize suddenly that, even though the light is green, the three cars in my lane in front of me are not moving. I don't recall seeing brake lights, just realizing they're all stopped. For no apparent reason. At a green light. I hit my brakes, but as we slowed to a stop, I realize at one point that it won't be enough. We don't even hit hard enough to throw us forward in our seats, we were almost stopped, really. But not quite. (The car behind me came within inches of hitting me, too, but luckily, I was spared that much.) Her bumper suffered a few scratches (one of those newer cars with bumpers that pop right back out instead of denting). My car suffered a little more. Can you see what's damaged? I know, it's hard to tell. The cop that finally showed up an HOUR later was rude, telling us we didn't have to call if it was less than $1000 damage. Like I was supposed to know that? He says he can't even see that I have any damage. So I beckon him back to the front of my car and point out that I don't generally drive around with smashed headlights. At which point he asks how much I think my car is worth. I was tempted to say something to the effect of "I know it's older than you are, but it's in great condition."(it's a '91) I refrain. But I do make him fill out whatever report he otherwise would have if the damage was "enough", since we waited all that time for him. My estimated repair costs? $660-$780. If you look closely, you'll see that the bumper is buckled/creased right below the headlights, which were completely demolished, save the actual bulbs. Further inspection revealed damage to the grill, not seen here because it's hidden under the lip of the hood. They have to remove, strip, and straighten the bumper, then repaint, and put it back. That's if the things it holds on to aren't damaged too much, which they won't know until they take it apart.
Theoretically, I could have just had my mechanic replace my headlights and called it good, lived with the creased bumper and hoped nothing was damaged that I couldn't see. But the fact is, I love this car. I try not to. I know it's not good to love "things" as opposed to people. But I do. Plus, I don't want to find out later that something else was damaged and not be able to claim the repairs.
The good news in all this: when I bought my car, the front bumper had some serious scratches in the paint, due to a tow clamp used improperly when the guy I bought it from picked it up at auction. Someone had painted over these, but badly - it looked like they'd used white-out or something. I hated looking at those scratches. Did you know white isn't just white? Apparently, it comes in several colors, all called white. When I had repairs done from that first accident, that guy tried to improve it some, but didn't do much better. But now, the whole thing has to be stripped and repainted, soooo, bye-bye stupid tow clamp scratches! (possibly this swayed my decision to have it all fixed...)
Today I was able to drop it off at Cascade (pricey, you say? they were the low bid. plus, they handled my car three years ago when I was rear-ended, and I liked how thorough they were then.) and now I'm driving a silver Toyota Corolla with only 32k miles on it for the next three days while they fix my sweet little convertible.
I will miss my baby while it's gone. But I think it's worth it.

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