Not long ago, on my way to pick up Gertrude after work, my little red Neon was totaled when another driver decided to make an ill-advised left turn directly into the path of my car. There was much slamming of breaks and inflating of air bags. No one was injured except the vehicles.
Yesterday, on my way to pick up Gertrude after work, another driver decided to make another ill-advised left turn directly into the path of my little green Ion.
Okay, can we pause this story? I love my Ion. I love it like one of my children. It's small, it's green, it's cute, it's made of plastic, and it gets excellent gas mileage. The man who sold it to me after the death of my Neon didn't have to convince me of its intrinsic cuteness, but he did repeatedly insist that Saturns are safe, safe, safe, safe cars. Sure, I said. And throw in some zero-percent financing! We'll take it. I pull my Ion into the garage every night and pat him. He is my beloved.
Now, I'm driving along thinking, of all things, about my Ion and how much I still owe on the loan. And how much it might be worth in five or six years when Matilda is old enough to either drive it or trade it in.
I'm not making this up. Those were actually the thoughts going through my head at the exact moment a silver PT Cruiser came hurtling through two lanes of traffic and impaled itself on the front end of my car.
The PT Cruiser hissed and shuddered. My car merely glared at it. We pulled out of traffic while the PT Cruiser gasped and wheezed and spit fluid into the street.
I got out to look. A few witnesses came up to me and looked too.
"Wow," said a man, shifting his gaze between my car and the ruined PT Cruiser.
"Yeah," I said. "This thing did all right." I patted my car. His bumper had shifted a bit. A piece of his plastic siding was cracked. He grinned up at me with a brave, broken-toothed smile. "Yes, you're a good boy!" I told him.
The other driver, a confused college student wearing too much jewelry, was on her cell phone yelling at her mother. "No, mom. I just got in an accident!… No, it got out early. I didn't skip it!…"
As her car was towed off and the police officer handed us our information, the college student plopped down on the curb with her impractically stylish purse, overstuffed backpack, and large art portfolio. All of a sudden, she looked very, very young. And alone, with no car.
"Do you need a ride anywhere?" I asked her, surprised to find myself feeling protective instead of annoyed.
She looked surprised too. "Um. I think I've got one." She didn't say thanks.
"Okay," I said.
Now bring on the insurance claims.