Last Thursday, around 3:30pm, I loaded the girls into the car and off we went to a playdate. We were listening to music and Lucia was snacking on Goldfish and then CRUNCH. I’d crashed into another car, smashing up my hood and the other car’s front passenger-side door. Shocked, I sat there for a moment. The car had come out of nowhere. I’d seen it in time to try to brake, but there wasn’t enough time even to screech. Just…CRUNCH. Lucia gave a brief whimper from the loud sound; the girls were otherwise unaffected, as was I. Thank goodness for our Volvo. Seriously, we barely felt it.
The other car continued across my path and pulled to a stop. I pulled in behind and called the police. The driver of the other car was an elderly woman, with a passenger who was maybe her son. They weren’t hurt either. (They were also in a Volvo.)
It happened at a tricky intersection: the road I was on has no stop sign; the road she was on has a stop sign with a flashing light and big yellow signs warning CROSS TRAFFIC DOES NOT STOP. I had no idea whether she just didn't see me, or ran the stop sign, or thought I had a stop sign too, or radically misjudged her ability to get across in time. Or if I was, somehow, at fault. I was pretty sure I wasn’t, but couldn’t sleep for several nights, just replaying it all in my mind.
The police took my license, insurance, registration. I called Andrew, who, thankfully, was working from home that day; he started out on foot to meet us. (We were really close to home.) After what seemed like a very long time, the cop came back and said what I knew he was going to: “We have a problem.”
Indeed, we did. Not only was our poor car smashed up, but—through a series of events involving a) procrastination; b) the ridiculously complicated process involved in getting our title from CA; and c) the holidays, we had not managed to register our car in NJ. And our NY registration expired in December.
Andrew showed up just when the cop announced that our car was being immediately impounded and I was to get out and remove anything I needed from the vehicle so it could be towed to the impound lot. At this point I began to cry, because our car was being taken away! by the police! and I have two little kids! and what about the carseats?! and my husband is going away to Mexico for a week! and I just smashed up our car! Ugh. Andrew took out the kids, and the carseats, and there we were—on a street corner, without a second car, and no way to carry everything home. Fortunately, we had an umbrella stroller and the Ergo in the car, so I walked the girls home, and Andrew called a cab for him and the carseats.
A mess. A total mess. Andrew spent the next morning going to the DMV to get our registration, going to the police station, going to the impound-lot towing company, getting a rental car. Things seem to be sorted out now, and our car is at the repair place. I went to the police station today to get the police report, and, ta-da, it said clearly that I was not at fault. A witness confirmed that the other driver had run the stop sign. Our car is still damaged ($4,200 of damage!! Thank goodness for insurance!!), but in some small way this makes me feel better. Or does it make me feel worse? I’m a slow, careful driver, yet all the slowness and carefulness didn’t matter here at all. Just…CRUNCH.