“I may have hit your bumper.”
That’s what the chicken-scratch note on the windshield of my now battered and bruised car stated.
May have. May have? Are you kidding?
Tell me: how does one not know that one was just in an accident? That’s like not knowing whether you’ve just had sex. It either happened or it didn’t — but you sure as hell can easily answer the “did-that-just-happen?” question.
Truth be told, after getting over the initial anger of seeing my car in pieces, I was actually shocked to see any note at all. I figured: who’d see an accident buried in the top corner of some random parking structure in the middle of sleepy, suburban Washington. But then I noticed that my legally parked car was right under the eye-in-the-sky security camera.
A little accountability — in this case, forced accountability through digital video — can be a wonderful thing.
Clearly, this dude, let’s call him “Mark” — the dude who “thought” he “may” have hit me — must’ve seen the camera, so made sure he left some sort of note. Check that box, right? Yet, the devil is in the details — the details in the wording of Mark’s note:
“This morning, I rounded the corner and may have hit your bumper. It is weird because the only damage to my vehicle is a popped tire so I’m not sure if it was that your bumper that was already damaged. In any event, here’s my info yada, yada …”
Classic. Priceless, really.
Oh, and did I mention Mark is a lawyer? As if you needed further proof. Notice the subtlety — the extremely lawyer-like non-denial denial — that gives him several “outs,” he figures. Qualifier after qualifier immunizing him when the police report hits the insurance adjustor’s fan:
- May have hit you …
- I’m not sure if your bumper was already damaged …
- The only damage to my vehicle is …
Worse yet, his insurer, Farmers Insurance, believes Mark’s story since there was “no visible damage” to their client’s car, even though Mark admitted his tire was blown. One thing I’ve learned in life is this simple axiom: Follow the money. It’s in Farmer’s best financial interest to believe their client’s tale.
Oh, and Mr. Farmer’s insurance guy, Mark’s tire was, in fact, popped. Did you not read that part of his note? That’s why the rest of his car didn’t show damage. Sooo … It was either his bumper or his tire that did the damage.
News flash to Farmer’s Insurance:
- Bumpers don’t always show damage, especially for the car doling out the contusions; and
- Tires are made of rubber. Rubber doesn’t really hold evidence of the victim’s paint chips. Yet that same rubber, moving forward in tire form on a multi-ton vehicle — most likely an SUV since every lawyer owns an SUV — with a driver rounding a corner, maybe in a hurry, maybe texting, maybe slurping his iced, half-caff, ristretto, venti, 4-pump, sugar free, cinnamon, dolce soy skinny latte frappacino, has the power to do damage. A lot of damage. The take-the-bumper-off and bust-the-light kind of damage.
Not laughing yet? It gets even funnier. Mark — as he now ponders back on how he can use his deftly worded note — tells Farmers that the plastic pieces from my car on the garage floor may have actually given him his flat tire from someone who previously hit me.
Mark thinks a lot.
Oh, and I get it: I’m not the victim of Mark’s actions; he’s the victim of my car’s plastic parts lying around from somebody who previously hit my legally parked car. I’m sorry. Will the lawyer please forgive? Maybe I should write Mark a check, too, after writing another check to my own body shop.
And, here’s the denouement under that, um, logic. The person who, in Mark’s mind, hit me at some point earlier, DID NOT leave a note. Yet Mark DID leave a note.
Dat makes me go: “hmmm.”
Let me see if I’ve got this straight on two fronts:
- Mark is smart enough to get through the rigors of years of law school, yet golly, he just can’t seem to figure out whether he was in an accident.
- We all routinely leave notes on other people’s accidents, right?
The key to all of this is the videotape, which I’ve requested, and which I’ll soon get. In spite of the fact that I’ve now got to waste my time on hours of recordings, I’ll do it on principal alone. He don’t know me too well, do he?
People do everything they do — everything — for some sort of payoff. But I just don’t understand Mark’s motivation. After all, he’s got a no doubt high-paying and cushy legal job at a global technology company. He has insurance, and accepting responsibility for this and simply moving on would likely have zero financial impact on him. And, after all, that’s what insurance is for. Right?
Yet I, as someone who was, until recently, unemployed, can’t easily afford to fix what’ll no doubt be a several thousand-dollar repair bill. Well, wait a minute. I guess I could afford this if I stopped buying diapers or formula for my two baby girls.
Or, if that doesn’t work, I guess I could see if my wife has the money. Oh, wait, that’s right, she’s stay-at-home, so she doesn’t make any money. So I guess that’s not an option then, either.
Here’s the long-and-short of it:
- Mark’s being what people traditionally, cynically think of as the typical, sleazy lawyer;
- Farmer’s is being petty and acting in its own, provincial interest; and
- This is a total waste of time — everyone’s time — especially mine.
Oh, and the moral? That’s pretty clear: mixing both lawyers and insurers is a horrible recipe if the desired result is easy access to the truth. This is especially important in Washington, which is not a no-fault state, so I have to prove whose fault this was or I get nada. Well, nada — other than a busted-up car and a wishy-washy note suitable for framing.
Farmers Insurance new slogan — you know, the one with the bump-ba-dump-ba-bump-bump-ba commercial — is: “What you don’t know can hurt you.” Maybe it should instead be: “What you can obfuscate will help your case — and our bottom line.”
I know, that’s not quite as catchy, but at least it’s how they operate.
It’s CYA season for everybody who’s got a financial dog in this hunt. Well, I’ve got a dog, too, and her name is Justice.
Didn’t know you hit me, huh?
But, you are going to hear from me and you are going to see the videotape that proves you hit me. Oh, and just like sex, you’ll know that it happened.
You can “Mark” my words.