January 22, 2019
We recently bought a car. A used one.
That isn’t a spectacular event, being a normal life transaction in our cluttered, running-to-keep up culture.
The circumstances were not spectacular either. The start of this process was dreary. My own dumb mistake precipated the progression of history only recently completed.
(Side Note related to the title: “Going South” is increasingly attractive to me, as I get older and winters seem longer, colder, and darker. But that’s another story.)
My wife had a car we bought new in November 2003. Liking those airmiles piling up, we put $5000 of the price (the most they would allow) on our AK Airlines VISA, and paid that part off the next month.
Annette was a fan of her New Beetle. It just “fit” her: bright red, 5-speed manual (sales people could not believe this diminuitive woman requested manual transmission), black leather heated seats with bright red leather inserts, and what was the most appealing to me—a five-valves per cylinder turbocharged engine.
I loved kicking that car down the road, and it could also be that, on occasion, as I observed while riding with her, the acceleration may have been faster than required for the immediate situation. >coff< >coff<
Last October 30, 2018, I had finally changed over the tires from summer to winter, happy to use my air wrench, getting those wheels all snug and ready to roll.
Next morning, as I was ending a meeting with a few guys, Annette’s text message came through allowing that “something was wrong” with the wheels.
When I arrived at the car, I saw the left front tire had sheared off. I found only one of the five lug bolts. The car was resting up off the ground, as the rounded fender edge was settled on the tire. This was going to need a tow and a bit more work than I could do.
I went to get my wife, as she needed to do some shopping. As we drove back by the car a few moments later, (a block-and-a-half from our home) we noticed a stomach-fluttering scenario. Someone had rammed the back of the Beetle, whose front disk brake rotor was now resting on the ground from the impact. Broken bumper, fender, taillight, marker light, and front fender, plus unknown, underneath wheel damage.
I called a tow company. They said it would be 3 hours at least, due to the 90 wrecks that happened in the past 24 hours because of fresh snow. (Alaskans anually, collectively forget how to drive in snow.)
After finding another tow company promising to do the job within the hour, I canceled the first one.
I should have stayed with the original.
The second tow company had two trucks break down, and finally, when the car was picked up, it could have already been done by the first company.
In a reasonable amount of time I called the VW dealer to see about the safe arrival of our car, which they had been expecting since mid-morning (this was about 4 pm). No sighting.
Answering my call asking of the whereabouts of our car, the beleagured lady said the truck was trying to get out of a tiny parking lot at a body shop, where he had just delivered one, and rival company truck had pulled in, blocking him, while the driver disappeared. That logjam finally cleared.
The dealer did an appraisal next day of the damages. The figure was not far from the value of the car. Meanwhile, having little information, I had begun the pursuit of the insurance company for the driver of the impacting car. A sixteen-year-old girl was cited because she failed to clear her windshield of frost, and said she had no idea our car was there until she ran into it.
Good way to suddenly be fully awake.
The owners of the attack car were nice enough to leave a note saying they had already filed a claim with their insurance. However, when I called the mom to get information, she was about to board a plane and be gone for a few days. Her former husband was owner of the policy, and she had no insurance ID number.
For the next 4 or 5 days I dug like a detective and was able to cobble the clues together to get things underway. I got an estimate from a body shop and turned it in. They promised to mail the check “immediately”. About 8 days later, they actually did.
We had decided to take the payment when we knew it would be sent to us rather than directly to a body shop. We did not want to spend so much money on a car nearing old age, with mileage accumulating.
There is more to this story. Tune in right here for Part II, for the second, concluding part of the account, with some observations.