So then…I stop at the light, yelp at a piercing pain in my leg, then feel my car gently bump the car in front of it. It’s just a tap — but jarring, nonetheless.
I look down at a tiny scalpel imbedded in my thigh. Was I trying to perform surgery while exiting an LA freeway? No.
I’ve merely forgotten that I had removed the scalpel from my grade school son’s Junior Science Kit and placed it on the arm rest in the car — you know, for safety reasons.
So when I stop the car on an incline, it slides backwards, right into my leg!
I pluck the offending blade from my thigh and jump out of the car. A man in his early 60’s is disembarking his vehicle too. The first thing he says to me is, “Oh, my back, my back!”
And because I’ve heard a million times that you should never admit fault or remorse at the scene of an accident, I wisely blurt out, “Oh, my God! I’m so sorry! Are you OK? It’s totally my fault! A knife punctured my leg!”
He smiles. A really big smile. A knowing smile.
I am such a rube.
He sizes me up quickly – a girl in her 30’s in a luxury car, readily admitting blame in a fender-bender. He motions me to pull over to a gas station to exchange info.
When we park, I confirm that he’s OK and doesn’t need to go to the hospital. He still murmurs about the back pain, but I can see he’s ready for a transaction.
His eyes glide over my car lustfully and he says wistfully, “Oh, you have a Jaaaaguar. I used to have one of those. I wish I had a Jaaaaguar.”
“Um, well, it’s an old model,” I say, trying not to appear wealthy for fear he’ll take advantage with some trumped-up medical claims. “Let’s call the police so we can get this all on the record.”
“Oh, no need for the police,” he says. “Let’s just exchange information.”
I hand him my insurance card and he says wistfully, “Oh, you have USAA insurance. That’s such a good company. I wish I had USAA insurance.”
Oh my God, this guy is totally creeping me out with his coveting! I almost expect him to say, “Oh, you’re wearing bluuue shorts. Those are so nice. I wish I had bluuue shorts.”
He gives me his insurance info and name and number.
I renew my suggestion to call the police.
He says, “It’ll take them forever to get here and they’ll just tell us to exchange information. Besides, we can avoid the whole insurance situation if you just give me $800 to get my car fixed.”
I peer closely at the bumper of his late model car. There is not a scratch or a dent.
“$800 for what?” I ask.
“Well, look what your car did to mine!” He points to the back side fender that has paint peeling all along the side.
“Huh?” (I don’t get it. This is my first car accident, so I don’t have a lot of experience – and I’m certainly not an automotive expert – but HUH?)
I want to shout “LIAR!” but he’s twice my age and I’m trying to be respectful. My mama didn’t raise me to cast aspersions on the elderly.
So instead I politely say, “I don’t think my car did that. We were both stopped at a stop light. How could a bump to the back of your car cause the paint to peel off on the whole side of your car? I think that paint was peeling off before we bumped.”
He confirms confidently, “Oh yes, your car did do that to mine. I didn’t have any peeling paint before.”
“Well, I’m going to call the police then, so we can all talk about this.”
“I’m not waiting for the police,” he says quickly. “My back’s really hurting me so I have to get home and rest. Tell your insurance company to call me as soon as possible. And by the way — my neck is really starting to hurt, too.”
And with that, he hops in his car and leaves. I’m still shaken up by the whole experience, but I quickly drive the last 7 minutes home and call my insurance company.
I start to divulge the details, but the insurance lady cuts me off – “Are you talking about the automotive incident that just occurred?”
“Yes!” I say. “How do you know about it?”
“The other party called us already.”
“Are you kidding me? He called you already? It only took me 7 minutes to get home and he’s already called you! I have to tell you I have my suspicions about this guy! He tried to shake me down for cash instead of calling the police or involving the insurance companies. I think he’s looking for a big payday!” I say.
She says, “Yes, I have that feeling too. He immediately talked about “pain and suffering” and used lots of terms common to insurance medical claims. I looked him up. He’s already been involved in two car accident lawsuits where he’s filed huge claims for back problems.”
“Oh My God! What are we going to do?!” I say in a panic.
She says reassuringly. “Don’t worry about a thing. We’ll handle everything. That’s why you have us.”
And that’s why I love USAA.
And why I no longer drive with loose scalpels in the car.
— Darcy Perdu
(Anybody try to take advantage of YOU – or any funny insurance stories to share? Feel free to post anything related to fender-benders, creepy old guys, cars, cops, Junior Science Kits, or scalpels!)