Tuesday, September 20, 2011

JC and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

So does anyone remember the book this blog title is referencing? Good ol' Alexander? "I went to sleep with gum in my mouth and now there's gum in my hair when I got out of bed this morning I tripped on the skateboard and by mistake I dropped my sweater in the sink while the water was running and I could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day."*

Oh Alexander. It only gets worse.

I've been thinking of today as my busy day for about a week now. Had to drop the dog off to get spayed, take Addison to school, do a little house-sitting check, pick Addison up from school, run home, change Addison into her ballet clothes, drop Addison off at ballet, pick her up from ballet 45 minutes later, try to squeeze in lunch, and pick the dog up from the vet. All while juggling not just Addison, but a rather crabby Owen as well. The mere thought of today started giving me nightmares on Friday. I hate busy days. Sure, I don't want to be stuck with nothing to do all day, but I hate not having a moment to think.

SO what else would make things more exciting? How about a car accident? Yep... that'll do.

Let me start from the beginning.

I got up this morning a little after 7:00, because my Grandma was scheduled to arrive at 7:30 (she was going to sit at the house while I took Zoey to the vet, so that I didn't have to get the kids up any earlier than usual.) Zoey had apparently figured out something was up, because she was all trembly at the vet (she's usually fine) and it broke my heart to let them walk away with her. I drove back home, thanked my Grandma, and got the kids up and ready, leaving at 8:45 to take Addison to school.

At about 8:58, driving down the street Addison's school is on, roughly two blocks up from the building, a girl on my left pulled out from a stop sign; apparently unaware that I was coming down the road, and despite my horn blaring, swerving, and general bitch-panic, there was no way to prevent hitting her.

I was instantly pissed and defensive. Partially because I think these days, being defensive is a natural reaction in these situations, and partially because being ticked off allows us to ignore the fact that we are, as adults, scared shitless. No one likes that feeling-- it's too vulnerable, a little embarrassing, and we tend to cover it up by being defensive and angry. Even to the most mild-mannered person, I think it's easier to be confrontational with a stranger we feel has wronged us than to be vulnerable and say "hey! You scared the crap out of me! I might cry soon!"

I checked on my kids, verified that everyone was okay, and pulled the van off to the side of the road. I grabbed my insurance card out of the glove compartment and opened the door. My defenses melted away when I got out of the car. The girl who caused the accident was already near tears, looked only about 18 or 19, and was already profusely apologetic. My maternal instincts kicked in and I felt like hugging her (I refrained.) We exchanged insurance information, but I called my insurance company to find out whether or not I had to call the police-- my instinct said yes, since there were no witnesses to the accident and I wanted someone to document that this accident wasn't my fault, but I think I just felt guilty calling the cops on this poor girl and wanted to be able to say "but Ron told me to!" Which is more or less what I did.

While I waited for the policeman to arrive, I texted my mom and my mother-in-law, informing them of the basic details ("was in accident, everyone ok, not my fault, police coming, will call later"). I called my husband and broke the news to him, letting him know I'd call after I had more information. I called Addison's school and let them know that she'd be late and why. I couldn't stand just sitting along the side of the road, idle... I even updated my facebook status.

Mr. Police came, took both of our statements, and started filling out his report. He took one look at the other driver's car and stated that it was good we had called, because her car could not be legally driven and had to be towed (Kia owners-- beware of Honda Odyssey's. Apparently minivans are the new schoolyard bullies. A sleeper cell of brutes.) After filling out his paperwork, he came and explained to me that although he doesn't determine fault, technically I had the right-of-way and the other driver could legally be cited for failing to remain at a stop until all traffic had passed. He told me he didn't HAVE to ticket her, but then said, in these words, "do you need to see me citing her for her traffic violation?"

What an odd question! I suppose if she had come out of her car, hurling insults, trying to throw blame on me and being generally belligerent, I could see maybe wanting to see her get a ticket. But under these circumstances? My answer was "if you don't HAVE to cite her, please don't. I don't want to make anything more difficult." He was satisfied with this, let me know that her violation would still be in the report, regardless, but said he wouldn't issue a ticket. He took some pictures of both cars, gave us copies of the information he had collected from both of us, and gave us instructions to call our insurance companies right away. The other driver took one last opportunity to apologize to me... what came out of my mouth (and I couldn't believe, considering it sounded very cliche, but it fit the moment) was "hey, it's ok... accidents happen."

Addison was 45 minutes late for school, but since I had called the school to let them know what happened, I fortunately didn't have to explain to the teachers, in front of 15 other 4 year olds, that we had just been in an accident. They were both very sweet, helped me get Addison quietly settled into the craft they were working on, and I left. I went to the mall and got a coffee, found an empty table in the food court (pretty easy right at 10 a.m.), busied Owen with a donut, and called my insurance company. Ron was very helpful and I got all of that stuff squared away pretty quickly. I called my husband, told him everything that had transpired, and then had a brief period of about 15 minutes of peace in which to drink my coffee and force the stress and emotions of the morning into the back of my psyche, to be dealt with later.

As I arrived back at the school, I got a call from the vet saying that Zoey's surgery "went well" but that she had a minor complication; apparently, a blood vessel had gotten nicked or somehow ended up bleeding, and the vet had to extend the incision in order to repair it. He assured me that the incision was still pretty small and should heal just as well, told me she was already standing up and wagging her tail, and that I could come get her between 4 and 6:30. So at least THAT was relatively uncomplicated.

I picked up Addison and was told that she had a "minor weeping period" but "came out of it ok" and that they chalked it up to stress from the morning. She was fine when I got her, though, and was excited to go to ballet-- we went home, got her dressed, and I dropped her off. While she was there, I did my house-sitting duties to kill time; again, being idle gives me too much time to think and too much time to let the stress sink in. I picked her up, listened to her stories of what they did, and took her home. We got home, ate lunch, and I sent both kids to their respective rooms for nap time. I went about cleaning everything up from the morning and kept myself busy until my mother-in-law (who had volunteered to sit with the kids while I picked up the dog) arrived-- I talked to her for awhile about the day's events and went to get my poor puppy.

When my husband got home, he made grumpy faces at the van's front bumper for a few minutes and then came in to change. The plan had been for all of us to drive to Carlisle for dinner, where my father-in-law was "working" at Bruster's as a fundraiser for the middle school he works at. After much deliberating, I opted to stay home to keep an eye on Zoey-- although mostly well, she was still groggy and sore and I didn't feel right throwing her in her crate and ditching her. I spent much of the time everyone was gone reading, cleaning up, and wishing I was getting ice cream.

It wasn't until very late this evening that I finally let everything soak in. I still don't 100% feel like I'm grasping all of what happened today; I tend to compartmentalize things, assuming that either they will take care of themselves, or I will tend to them later. I'm hoping this car situation is a little of column A, a little of column B... I've done all that I can, and now it's in the insurance companies' hands. All I can do is be thankful this day is over, grateful that no one was hurt, and hopeful that tomorrow will go a LOT more smoothly.

(*excerpt from "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day" by Judith Viorst. Reference just in case someone decides to randomly sue me.)

No comments: