"Everything comes gradually and at its appointed hour." ~ Ovid
I had to be in Santa Monica for a special meeting, but I wasn't in a huge hurry. I was, though, facing the dreaded 405 freeway! That's the ONLY way into Santa Monica from down here in Orange County, and it's ALWAYS clogged. I'm a pretty patient person... and I was sure going to need lots of patience that day!
About 5 blocks from my house, I was waiting behind an older, faded Mercedes Benz for the light to turn red so I could make my way to the 91 and then drive sedately towards the dreaded 405. The light turned green, the lady in front of me began her turn... I began my turn... and then she STOPPED... suddenly, fervently, she stomped on her brakes and STOPPED!
I was going slightly slower than 3 miles an hour, and I stopped, too, just touching her back bumper. She pulled over to the curb, so I pulled over to the curb. I got out of my car to check for any damage, but there wasn't even a mark on my front license plate! I looked at her rear bumper - nothing... nowhere! Not a scratch... Whew!
I walked up to her driver's door and knocked on the window, but she was sitting there... just sitting there. She didn't turn to look at me. She didn't roll down the window. She just sat there for a couple minutes as I spoke to the closed window. "Lady! Lady! Are you alright? Lady..."
She rolled her window down, finally, turned to me, sucked in some air, and yelled, "MY NECK! MY NECK! MY NECK! YOU'VE HURT MY NECK!"
"Lady, I didn't even tap you! We just touched bumpers! I just examined your car and mine, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with either one. Come look..."
"MY NECK! MY NECK! MY NECK! WHIP-LASH! WHIP-LASH! WHIP-LASH!"
"Lady! Your neck could NOT have been hurt! Come out of your car and look at your back bumper. There's NO MARK on it! You're fine!" Now, remember, I'd taught high school and junior high school, too, for many years, and I'd seen lots of people claiming illness, but I had never missed a fake one!
Suddenly, her neck must have magically healed, because she swiveled her head towards me and called me........ well, words that I can't write here! Once again, nothing that I hadn't heard before, though. "YOU B-----! YOU B-----! YOU HIT ME!"
"Lady, I'm not going to stand here in the street and be called names! Now, let me see your license and I will show you mine!"
"NO! I WON'T! YOU HURT ME!"
"Well, I'm going to call the police now, and they can straighten this out. You can tell THEM your complaint... By the way, you MUST show me your license and your insurance information, though. It's the law!"
"NO POLICE!" she announced! Hmmmmm... a clue......
I walked back to my car, got my driver's license out, and my insurance, too, so we could exchange information. As I walked to the curb-side of her car, she jumped out of the other door, ran around the car to the curb, and called me a few, even more colorful names... This lady had a real vocabulary! She also had on really HIGH heels, and she was waggling her neck as she screamed at me! Hmmmmmm...... I wasn't a paramedic, but I was sure she was NOT hurt! I wasn't scared of her, though... I'm Irish, and a TEACHER, and we just don't scare that easily.
"Where's your license?" I asked.
"I'm getting a new one soon..."
"Where's your car insurance?"
"It expired two years ago... Lady, I'm leaving. I'll call my insurance company when I get home. Nothing happened here, except my car touched your car. That's it."
As I drove away, she was still standing on the sidewalk, both fists in the air, screaming even more interesting words at me. Still, she didn't scare me. Even some of my junior high school kids could have put her to shame with the words they knew...
When I got home later that afternoon, I called my insurance company. I'd only ever had one accident in my life, and that was 15 years before this. I nervously explained what had happened. "I really, really didn't hurt her car! We weren't even going over 3 miles an hour! I gave her my license and my..." But my insurance lady was laughing, almost hysterically... LAUGHING!
"Terry, we KNOW her! She does this ALL THE TIME! Everyone in Orange County knows this "babe!" Nothing to worry about at all. She called us already, and we told her that we were "on to her" and she'd get nothing out of us because we knew she was lying!"
"Well, really and truly, nothing happened... "
"You're fine, Terry. We'll send our insurance adjuster over to your house to check your car, though, just for the paper work. Does tomorrow work for you?"
The next morning, right on time, the insurance adjuster came to our door. I took him into the garage, showed him my car, and he said, "This car is perfect! Nothing wrong here."
And then, while he was filling in all the paperwork that the insurance company required, we began to talk. (I did tell you that I'm Irish, didn't I? Well, most of us like to talk!) He said that he loved art... it was his passion. He was even a "Sunday painter!" he said.
Music to my ears... "I'm a artist, myself!" I told him, and I explained my fiber art pieces to him. He seemed intrigued. In fact, he wanted to see them!
Richard was at the golf course, and I didn't know this man, so I asked him to wait outside on the porch, and I'd bring out some pieces that I'd just finished. He loved them...
"How much is this piece?" he asked.
I told him the work's 4-figured price, and he said, "I want it! Will you take a check?"
"Well, I guess so..."
"Now, listen..." he said as he wrote out the check. "I want you to take this check to the bank today and cash it. Then I'll come back tomorrow to pick up this piece. Will that work for you?"
"That way you'll know that I'm on the up-and-up," he assured me.
And you know what? I cashed the check, and he came back on Saturday to take my work home with him, and I still marvel at the whole crazy event... That lady was out to make some money, but I sold my work to an art lover, instead! Wow! Sometimes, the BAD GUY actually loses! But, wherever I drive, I still give older, faded Mercedes a lot more room between us than any other car on the road... just in case...