Thursday, June 10, 2010

Accidentally...

It's amazing how everything can change in just an instant.  I was on my way home from a PTA meeting last night when the taxi I was in was hit by another cab.  We had just arrived at my apartment building, I had paid the driver, and was getting ready to get out of the cab.  I was seated on the right side of the cab and opted to get out on that side rather than sliding over with all my gear in tow.  I opened the door and then reached down to pick up my umbrella.  In that moment, the other cab, speeding through our private driveway (despite two speedbumps and another vehicle stopped in front of it), clipped the open door, tearing off his own rear view mirror and breaking the hinges of my door.  It was an awful sound and I shudder to think about what might have happened had it not been raining and I didn't have an umbrella to grab off the floor...

I called 911 and stood out in the driveway for almost an hour and a half for the police to show up.  I wanted to give my statement -- the other driver was clearly at fault and I felt the record should show that.  I felt badly for the driver of my own cab -- his damage was considerably more severe and yet he was clearly the better driver. 

As I waited out in the rain, I saw many of my neighbors, as they returned from work, walked their dogs, etc.  They and the building staff were wonderfully solicitous of my well-being.  It felt great to know that they cared.

Ultimately, I went inside to warm up. My feet, already soaking wet from a walk across the Park to the school, were freezing.  And after three calls to the police from me and a few from my driver, it appeared that this accident - where no one was hurt or trapped - was low on the official's priority list on this rainy night.  I had left both my home phone number and cellphone number with the driver, plus I asked the doorman to buzz me when the police arrived.  Around 11:15 or so - about two hours after the accident occurred -- I fell asleep on the couch, where I had been waiting, not ready to go to bed until I knew this was all resolved.  When I awoke some time near midnight, the cabs were gone - the drivers tired of waiting as well and exchanged insurance information and drove off, my doorman told me.

Accidents are always unpleasant and inconvenient for all involved. But I thought the two drivers handled themselves with as much grace as possible.  Even the cabbie at fault stayed around, although he easily could have driven off, given the minor damage the incident cost him.  But an older man who lives in the building proved that some people, when given the slightest opportunity, will always be selfish and self-centered.  He barreled into the driveway and idled behind the two interlocked cabs blocking his way, honking his horn and shouting obscenities.  He wanted them to move so that he wouldn't have to back out of the driveway and drive around the block to get into the building's garage from the other direction.  No matter that it would have taken two minutes to do so and he wasted considerably more time and energy trying to get his way.  Tellingly, out of the dozens and dozens of cabbies and other drivers who passed through the driveway while I waited, he was the only driver who acted this way.  Everyone else quietly sized up the situation and turned around.

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