I’ve been super busy for two weeks straight now. After hanging out with my buddy Robb and some other friends at the Oklahoma Video Game Expo all weekend, I hopped in Susan’s car and drove to Tempe, Arizona yesterday. It was a long drive, one I was not looking forward to and one I wish I had spent two days making instead of one. The long and boring drive across Texas, New Mexico and Arizona for the most part offers little to look at, even less after dark. Combine that with abysmal cell phone coverage and the crushing news that the arrival time on the GPS was two hours off (it had compensated for the two time zone difference).
While I was driving I-40 west yesterday, my son Mason got to meet Weird Al. I have dreamed of meeting Weird Al for 30 years, just to shake his hand and compliment him on his genius. Al was doing a book signing in Oklahoma City yesterday. Unfortunately, I was in Susan’s car, driving west on I-40. It seems like every work trip takes me away from some significant life event at this point. If you ever want to have a pity party for yourself, 925 miles in a car by yourself is a great place to have one.
So yes, Susan’s car. Let’s talk about that.
Around 6:15 PM yesterday, I pulled off the highway in Gallup, New Mexico to get gas and food. The first sign I was in a classy part of town was this smoke shop.
If that place had been open I would have paid the $7.95 for the haircut and the story.
Half a block down was McDonald’s. I stopped there to use the bathroom. The second sign I was in a classy part of town was that this McDonald’s apparently has its own security guard who walks around and monitors the parking lot. After using the restroom, based on the line and the clientele loitering in the lobby I decided to order my dinner in the drive-thru instead. Wrong move.
After ordering a couple of cheeseburgers and another cup of road fuel (coffee), I pulled around to the window to pay. Right after paying, I was jolted. BAM. Anyone who has ever ridden the bumper cars and been hit from behind knows the feeling. I hopped out of the car and, sure enough, the guy behind me had hit me.
“My foot slipped off the brake,” he offered. With camera in hand I began snapping photos while holding up the drive-thru line. I took pictures of my bumper, his bumper, his license plate, and while I had the man trapped in drive-thru, his insurance. In a “silver lining” moment, I was hit by an older gentleman in a Cadillac who was, I am quite sure, the only other person in the parking lot with auto insurance.
After re-entering my car I pulled up, got my food, and then pulled over to park. After calling Susan, I called 911 to have an officer sent out and file a report. They said one would be out shortly.
For the next 30 minutes I sat in the car, my hands still shaking from the adrenaline. The man who hit me sat parked two spots away, eating his (now) very expensive ice cream cone.
We waited. I called a few people and texted out pictures of the bumper. We waited some more. With every passing minute the GPS added more to my arrival time. We waited some more.
At 7 PM, I called 911 again. “What is your emergency?” the lady asked. I did not have an emergency at 7 PM. I had one just before 6:30 PM, when I was in an accident. Was someone coming? Yes, she said. Would it be soon? She could not say. Would it be more than an hour? She could not say — calls are sorted by priority and the time they came in. Is exchanging insurance policies enough, or do I need a police report? She could not say. I thanked her out of habit and not out of sincerity, and hung up.
By 7:30 PM, no officers had arrived. Around that time the man walked over to my car, said he had called his insurance agent at Geico, and filed a claim. We have the same insurance so I got the claim number, shook his hand, and we decided to part ways. I hope we exchanged enough information to get Susan’s bumper fixed. For what it’s worth, his looked worse than mine did. As I was pulling back on to the highway, I made one last call.
“911, what is your emergency?”
“I don’t have one. I’m calling to cancel one.”
“You’re calling to cancel an emergency?”
“Yes. I called and asked for an officer to come out. You can cancel that. I am almost 300 miles away from my hotel and I need to start driving. I can’t wait any longer.”
“So you no longer need an officer to come out?”
“I needed an officer to come out at 6:30 PM. It’s 7:30 PM. I cannot wait any longer. I am leaving now.”
“Ok. Thank you for calling 911.”