Wednesday, January 04, 2006
The Wife's Gone Not More Than Ten Minutes and Then THIS Happens
A trucker (his truck pictured above) hit me on I-85 this afternoon. I'm totally and completely fine, the damage to the car was essentially cosmetic, but I'm going to write about the hit-and-run fender-bender (yes, I said hit-and-run) with an exhaustive (some might say nauseating) attention to detail and a seriousness of intent more appropriate for, say, the reporting of a 48-car pileup involving multiple deaths. That's just how I roll. I have a weak sense of proportion. Anyway.
I'd just dropped Peggy off at the airport and was driving North on I-85 when I got into some serious traffic. We'd seen the backup on our way TO the airport and I silently rejoiced at the prospect of sitting in gridlock for an hour or so on my way home. The reason for the gridlock was a couple of DOT crews were replacing one of those big green freeway signs that hang over the interstate (first time I'd seen that), and they'd blocked 2 of the 6 lanes of traffic to make way for their cranes. About a mile before the big, yellow blinking arrow flashing "LEFT" even appeared, people were starting to merge left. I wanted to do the same but I swear to God people must have seen my boat-like Crown Victoria and, for whatever reason, said to themselves, "Not this asshole. Anyone else, fine, I just can't let this sonofabitch in front of me today." So I inched along with my left turn light blinking furiously (it needs changing), looking like a big dope in a giant green car who can't manage to get over one whole lane. No one let me over for like ten minutes. There was this big maroon-colored tractor-trailer (sans trailer) that I tried to get in front of a few times, nudging ever so subtly, ever so inoffensively, asking permission in car-speak, really, but he just kept cutting me off. Just like everyone else. I inch along some more. Finally, I get over one lane and discover I have to get over yet another lane. Again with the stubborn bastards not letting me over. I was genuinely flabbergasted and kind of still am. I've never had this kind of trouble getting merging with traffic in my life. It wasn't as though I'd rushed ahead of everyone else to cut in some kind of "line" or anything -- EVERYONE had to get over. I don't know if this is a Georgia thing, a southern thing, or people, regardless of our locale, were just not in the mood to be human beings today.
Anyway, a small gap appears to my left. I inch my behemoth car over inch by inch to take advantage. I look and see the person letting me in is none other than the same maroon-colored tractor-trailer from before. I figure, "Ok. He's taking pity on my plight and is going to let me over." So I'm moving over, finally able to relax a little and look at the traffic ahead. No more lanes to go over. Progress will be slow-going, sure, but no more of this goddamn merging with stubborn Atlantans. Success!
In my side mirror, however, I see the truck is moving a little faster now, even though I am not yet completely in front of it. I think, "Ah, he's trying to make sure that I'm the only one who gets in." There are a few others behind me looking to merge also. I move from a quarter of the way into the lane to a third of the way in. A quick check of the side mirror reveals: truck is still not stopping. Alarmed now, I look to the other side mirror and see my way back to safety isn't entirely clear anymore -- an SUV has inched around my left side. I think, "this prick's gotta let me in. I'm basically in front of him already."
Nope. I hear a soft metallic scrape, and my car shudders. Yep. The bastard hit me at 5 miles an hour. I couldn't believe it. I steer right to get my car off of his truck and after a second we disengage. Just like that, we are all, once again, inching along 85 North at about 5-10 miles an hour. I'm thinking: "Did this just happen?" I look out through my window and after a second the truck's shiny metal bumper drifts into view, right at eye-level. I examine it closely for damage and see nothing except for what may be a meaningless dulling of the chrome finish on its edge. Maybe my car's fine, too, I think. I crane my neck up to see if I can see the truck driver but I can't see over the thing's hood. I speed ahead and pull onto the shoulder (which is between the freeway and a busy off-ramp, just barely enough room for my car and myself to step out), get out of the car, and walk to the back. At first I don't see anything, but then all at once I do.
A gouge, 2 inches by 3 inches, cut into the side of my car. Not cataclysmic or life-ending by any stretch, but not good. I turn to the trucker who is only now beginning to drift slowly past. I step back from the gouge so he can see what he's done and point at the point of impact. I find him in the cab: a 50-something, grey-haired white man. He is shaking his head furiously at me, as if to say, "Nossir, I had nothing to do with that." I don't even think to flip him off or mouth some profanity. I still think that this could be my fault. I shake my head back at him, incredulous, and point at him with a long, trembly finger, and then down again to the gouge. Surely he couldn't be denying he'd been involved, could he? He continues to shake his head at me as he drives slowly past, as though I wasn't getting it yet, but if he shook his head a little harder, it would all become clear to me. As the driver himself begins to move out of view, I point at the back of his truck as if to say, "You can leave the scene if you want, but I'm getting your license plate number... buddy." By the time the back of the truck presents itself to me, I see there is no license plate, only a white piece of paper with the word "Debt" written on it in black marker.
For a moment all I can do is stand there, next to my car, motionless, and watch as the maroon truck drifts further north into the glut of cars, trucks and SUVs.
I get back into my car, slam the door harder than I've ever slammed it, and throw my keys under the dash. Wow, am I pissed. Not punching-the-steering-wheel pissed, but, you know, mad. The dude had left the scene. He'd driven away.
Long story somewhat shorter, I got back into my car and after awhile merged into traffic. (It wasn't a whole lot easier now, either). I considered calling a cop, but I thought that the result of that would be a long, crushing waste of time, not to mention the fact that I had nothing to give a cop by way of a description of the truck. I considered driving after the truck in order to get more information (what company he worked for, make and model of the truck, etc.) but by the time I'd gotten back into traffic, I couldn't see him any more. And by the time we got past the freeway blockage and the traffic was moving freely again, Mr. Shakes His Head To Ward Off All Responsibility was long gone.
I can't figure what this guy was thinking. My guess is that, to this guy, the stretch of road between himself and the car in front of him is his territory, and he wasn't about to let some pushy tall dude with crazy hair insinuate himself into it no matter what. I think his attitude in those seconds before the impact was, "Get out of the way, boy, or I'm gonna hit you." And so he hit me. I don't know what happened to him in his driving past that would give him such a Cro-Magnon understanding of the Rules of the Road, but it must have involved a lot of blood, a lot of tears, and the heart-rending loss of a loved one. Or maybe the dude's just an idiot saddled with an IQ in the low-80s and a debilitating indifference to, I don't know, everything? I suppose that's a tough break, too. I guess it's possible he just didn't see me, but is it? If he couldn't see any part of my entire boat-like car before the impact, than how do other people merge in front of big rigs without getting crunched? I don't know. I could have found all that out had the sonofabitch simply stopped. But no dice.
Anyway. That's what happened to me today. Thus ends the official record of the most thoroughly described fender-bender in Atlanta history. Aren't blogs great?