Monday, August 22, 2011

Every cloud!

When I told people my Mom was visiting me from the UK for 6 weeks I saw the look of fear, the whites of their eyes as they said ‘Oh lovely’ in a completely unconvincing way. It wasn’t my Mom they were afraid of (they hadn’t met her at that point) It was the fear every 40 something has at the thought of spending more than a day with their mother, having not spend more than six hours together for the previous 25 years!
I, however, was looking forward to my Mom’s visit. She is one of those helpful sorts of Moms who does your ironing and makes lots of cups of tea. I did have some reservations and I had voiced my concern to several ‘witnesses’ that I might end up killing her before the six weeks was out. You can imagine my dismay when I almost succeeded just 3 days into her visit.
As a treat I had taken my Mom to Wal-Mart and MacDonald’s with the kids. I bet at that point my Mom was thinking ‘OMG I have 6 weeks of this shit, Kill me now!’ I was driving back when a car pulled out from a stop sign across a crossroads. I managed to swerve so I didn’t hit the side of the car head on but I did hit it. Hard! Ironically, I narrowly missed a stop sign! I felt like someone had punched my shoulder, very hard. I knew I hadn’t killed my mom because she had let out an involuntary cry of pain upon impact. My children were hysterical. They were all vocal! I felt there was no immediate danger to anyone in the car.
A witness stopped and got out. I got out! I didn’t mean to swear quite as much as I did in front of my children and the witness! He confirmed that yes he did see it and no there was nothing I could have done to avoid it. He declined to agree with my appraisal of the other driver. I said all of this with a chicken nugget in my mouth! I suddenly found that I could not multi task to rant and eat the nugget at the same time and was virtually sick! The witness called the police – perhaps because of my tirade and littering the street with chewed up nugget but also because it is state law to call police when more than $1000 of damage is caused by a road traffic accident. It was certainly more than that! The witness left his contact details and drove away quickly!
All this time the other driver did not get out. I heard wailing and felt bad – I thought there was a small child in the car. The police arrived and moved the debris of cars to the side. They informed me that the wailing was in fact the other driver. Not a small child but a very small person – maybe even legally a midget (4’ 10” and under). She had not looked right when crossing the intersection at all so the impact came as a shock to her. Whilst I had looked and had milliseconds to prepare, it came as a bit of a shock to me too! She had the audacity to wail! The police man said perhaps she had not seen me because she was so tiny and couldn’t really see over the steering wheel. I guess given the USA aversion to swearing I was lucky not to get arrested for saying ‘Well she should sit on a f**king cushion then’.
The police were very surprised that I did not wish to call an ambulance. They were quite happy to establish blame there and then given she ran a permanent red stop sign with a flashing red light over head and we had already suffered some pain on impact. Where there is blame there is a claim and this didn’t just have the potential to be whip lash but American whiplash, super sized!
My car driver side wing had crumpled onto my wheel making it virtually un-driveable and the force of impact had broken my seat belt. Sadly the airbags had not deployed. Apparently you are $$$ in if they go off! The nice police man followed my car as it limped home to make sure we got there safely. The POPO (as my son calls them) were superb!

Car insurance is one of those things you do not consider before shipping your life to the USA! They don’t give a shite if you have been driving for 25 years and have a clean licence and umpteen years ‘no claims discount’! It means Jack here! The first insurance quote I got for my newly acquired gas guzzler when I arrived was $7000 a year. I challenged this so they asked for proof that I had been insured for more than a year I the UK. Difficult, given I had moved twice in said year and changed cars twice and left all the documentation in the attic of my house in the UK, now occupied by Chinese ex-pats! Bugger! Still – you never pay the price quoted in America– you usually pay more – but we got it down to $1200! Still way too much.  What is good here is that if the accident is not your fault you don’t have to involve your insurance company at all! You just blame the other driver and file direct with their insurance! Bingo! They don’t have Drivers legal protection here like in the UK – pay a tenner and get a lawyer. Here it is hire a lawyer and pay all your comp to lawyer! I didn’t hire a lawyer. I made it clear I just wanted my car fixed - which only took two visits to repairs to get the door to match the wing!
There was an issue with filing the claim when I said the ‘driver’s wing’ was damaged. Whilst being American she clearly believed in Angels but the insurance agent didn’t seem prepared to take that leap of faith and believe that as the driver I had a wing and was therefore an angel! I am no angel. She also would not accept that my car had a wing! They don’t call car wings ‘wings’ here. It was the driver’s front side wheel arch fender bender or some shit like that. She said I needed to be more precise with my description. I restrained from pointing out that if the USA hadn’t bastardised the English language my description of the damage to the car would be perfectly clear.
The damage to my mother, whilst not extensive, caused her some misery. She couldn’t laugh without pain (and given how funny I am she was suffering a lot!). She couldn’t cough, lie down to sleep or do the Hokey Cokey. She couldn’t do some of those things before either. I took her to the doctors – she had a bruised sternum that would take 6 weeks to heal. That was her stay tarnished then!  If she had medical insurance the bill would have been $270 dollars. I paid cash and the bill was $140. I know it took me 4 attempts to pass O’level maths but something doesn’t add up! Bit of an insurance scam going on state side!
Talking of which, I had good old whip lash …in my shoulder! Really! Almost bad enough to visit the chiropractors!
I’m not sure what benefit a lawyer would have been and I asked for no personal injury compensation but they offered some anyway. I hate that whole claim culture crap! Still, my mom had suffered and deserved some compensation. Would you believe it – the amount they offered my mother was enough for her to come back and stay again for around…SIX WEEKS!!!


  1. You never know i might stay longer ( only joking) that would really drive you to drink , Oh sorry you are already there. I can only say that I had a really lovely time.xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  2. lol not sure which is funnier. The ending of staying another six weeks or the first comment lol

    I'm sorry for the fender bender. I had no clue what a "right wing" was either. so for the back end what would that be called?

    I hope regardless of the accident you had somewhat of a god time.

    Accidents sound crazy out there. no hiring of lawyers out here unless absolutely necessary. MPI takes care of it here.

  3. next time try describing it as the 'off side front wing' - that will really confuse them - sounds like a football (sorry soccer) rule they have broken

    at least they stopped though - my last one was a hit and run - I mean that the other person didnt stop after hitting me not the other way round.


  4. sorry didnt mean to suggest that there will be a next time its just that you have been involved in a few since you went stateside - maybe you need to keep your 'cognitive distance'! LOL