Thursday, June 7, 2007

Pauline's Perils

Okay, so this should be called the Perils of Whitney's Rear Bumper, but that's not nearly as phonetic. This particular saga started about two weeks ago, when my sixteen-year-old daughter and I visited the eye doctor. She is near-sighted, and pretty-darned close to being legally blind. When the visit ended we realized that we had a problem - I had met her there, so we had two cars, and her eyes were dialated so she could neither see well, nor put in her contacts. And the whole reason for the visit was that her eyeglasses weren't a strong enough prescription. We consulted with the doctor, who thought she should be ok to drive, as long as she was careful.

So off we went - in the rain - with me following my almost-blind teenage driver in her beloved little Dogde (prounounced dog-day, and I must digress for a minute - after purchasing the car we realized it must have had some type of body work done by a non-english speaker, since the name on the back reads Dogde. My son thought it was lame, but he left the country before changing it, and my daughters think it's distinctive, so it has stayed.)

Anyway, this part of the story is where I have to admit to having some less-than-amazing observational skills, because as we traveled along a busy road, in the rain, I noticed a car next to mine at a stoplight that had some incredible body damage. That's all I noticed, no accident, just the damage. I wondered to myself how on earth a car could be driving around with that kind of damage. I also had lost track of the little white Dogde, and as the light changed I was looking around frantically for the car. I also noticed the smashed-up vehicle giving me a kind of strange look, and realized that he was trying to pass me so he could get in the outside pull over...behind a little white Dodge.

That's when my cell phone rang, and my frantic daughter's voice said "Mom! Turn around!"

"That was you? What happened?"

"Just turn around!"

Ok, so now I have to admit to less-than-amazing deductive reasoning skills. But I have to point out that a) I didn't witness any accident, b) my daughter's car LOOKED fine and c) I was stressing about her eye sight. So here is the VERY obvious conclusion that I jumped to as I did a u-turn: My beautiful young daughter decided she couldn't see well enough to drive, so she pulled to the side of the road, and the perverse teenage boy with the wild look in his eyes suddenly decided to pull up behind her so that he could do unthinkable things to her.

I know, absolutely rational.

I pulled my car in front of hers, ran alongside the busy road to her window (I did mention it was raining, right?), and asked what was wrong. She gave me her classic 'duh' look, and told me to look at the car. Well, the car looked just fine. And I was still in my classic 'don't you mess with my baby' frame of mind, so I went to the young man's window and asked what was up. Here I'm not so sure what I was expecting, maybe "I just saw that she pulled over and she looked really cute so I thought I'd help (wink, wink) but then you came and so I decided to just sit here." Yeah, that's about what I was expecting. But instead he said, "I just couldn't stop." His car was literally folded in half, and I can only be an idiot for so long, so I took another look at the Dogde, and sure enough, there was a crack on the rear bumper. Just a crack.

This was a first accident for both teens, so it was convenient that one of them brought their mother along (though I'm sure you're wondering at this point how much good that really was.) I called 9-1-1, moved my van over so that it wasn't blocking traffic (I may have left that part out of the story earlier), got my son out of my van and waited in the Dogde for the police to show. As we waited, I pulled out the registration and insurance papers from the glove compartment, and she pointed out that she couldn't read them, nor would she be able to fill out forms. We decided we probably shouldn't tell the police officer this. The accident clearly wasn't her fault, she was just sitting at the light, and the other driver admitted guilt. But getting in an accident while nearly blind just can't be a good thing. Even if a doctor gave permission.

So when the officer came, and asked me if I had been in the vehicle, I had yet another irrational worry. If I say we met for a doctor's visit, he of course will want to know what kind of visit, and if we say it was an eye doctor, he will of course then assume that one of us shouldn't have been driving, and will ask if by any chance the driver in this accident was operating a vehicle with impaired vision. I literally felt my eyes go shifty as I explained that we were just both heading home, at the same time, because we, uh, met, uh, somewhere.

I guess I can be an idiot for so long.

That should have been the end of the story, she didn't get charged with anything and insurance did cover the repair. But there's more. We scheduled an appointment with a repair shop for the next Thursday. And on Wednesday, her last day of school, she was sitting in the school parking lot talking to a friend. The car wasn't even running. And another teenage driver plowed into her rear bumper. Really.

That girl got off easy, since she'll only have to pay for a light that was cracked, not the bumper that got more than a crack that time. But I'm thinking maybe we ought to wait another week or so before replacing the bumper, just in case.