3/25/2012
Beepthudcrash

There's a first time for everything, they say, but there are things you hope don't happen to you at all. And there I was, knowing that I just endured my first car accident. And the first thing that goes through your head the things you should do once it happens.

Acknowledge the situation. I was backing up. I didn't notice the red pick-up truck behind me. I heard the beep, I got confused, I hit the accelerator - it feels very Seconds from Disaster to me. Because Niko hit the accelerator instead of the brakes, the disaster happened. Naturally, I freaked out. The truck's passengers thought I was going to have a heart attack. No, but I knew I had to act apologetic. And I was. But I was more afraid of the fact that I hit the truck, and my brake lights are smashed up, and there's a big dent near the trunk and the door. And I have to call my dad, who had the insurance policy.

Ask for a police report. The damage's pretty bad and we'll pay for everything through insurance, so we have to have a police report. The end result was an hour of both vehicles stuck in the middle of the parking lot, pretty much blocking the way for cars that are passing through, and the cars that are parked right near us.

The first of those was a family of Germans. Or Austrians, but I knew they spoke German. The only one who can speak English looked peeved and, while I was explaining why I can't move anything - the police need to take photographs - she just said, "that's not your problem!" Surely I just put the "not" part there out of panic. She was with her mother and her son, and they ended up sitting inside their car, not able to do anything. She was talking to her son, however, pointing at the wreck I caused. In German, of course. I assume she was telling the kid that I am a horrible driver.

I think I acted too apologetically. The truck's passengers - an old couple, their two children, and their grandchildren - were either frazzled or annoyed. The lady was a bit annoyed, I'm sure, although she later explained that she just wanted her truck fixed immediately. They live in Batangas, after all. Her husband, who owns the car and uses it for work, looked more worried, but at least he made an effort to make me feel that it's all just an accident, albeit one that I caused. His son, who was driving, was, as it turns out, glad that it didn't happen to his beloved car.

The security guards also thought the police are taking a while to get to the scene of the accident - the precinct's five minutes away! What was taking them long? They were at the wrong place, apparently. I was also wondering how the German family and two other vehicles managed to leave their parking slots with our two cars still in front of them.

Explain everything to the police. The story was pretty straightforward to me, but the photographs weren't. They took photos of the damage - my smashed rear, their dented bumper veering closely to the passenger door - and had both drivers pose for the cameras. "Ituro mo ito," the investigator said, pointing at the most damaged part of the car. Do you smile? I didn't, but the other guy did. Defusing the situation, I bet.

Then you head to the precinct, where you have to write your testimony down. I was alone in the precinct - my dad was outside, somewhere - and the truck's driver was inside, along with his mom and sister, who helped him narrate the events of three hours ago in his head. Uh-oh, I thought. I will get really screwed for this. Not really. But the conversation that happened after - where one of the cops talked about the possibility of me getting jailed and having to face court - did freak me out. It's a possibility, just. No charges will be pushed; we're willing to pay for it. Well, more of us willing to have insurance pay for it.

Also, the mom thought I was a nice kid. "Mukha naman siyang mabait," she explained. She wouldn't have said that if I got out of the car and yelled at them. Bakit kayo nakaharang sa daraanan ko? Also, I looked like I'll have a heart attack. Also, in an effort to relax me a bit, one of the cops showed me a photo album. A rail track, a motorcycle, a severed hand, a severed head... and I wasn't that freaked out. Not nice.

So, the waiting begins. We exchange phone numbers, we claim the police report within twenty-four hours, and then we let the insurance do the work. I know I was the one driving, but my dad's the one running point. That's when you feel really guilty. He wasn't even berating me or anything. The feel of the whole drive home was somewhere along the "charge it to experience" line. I get that line, but I'm starting to hate it. But I have to live with it. I'm not that good a driver, I know, but I now know what to do when accidents happen, and I have the battle scars to prove it. After the accident, Niko was so traumatized he vowed never to drive a car again. That thought did cross my mind, but "battle scars" sounds better. That, and knowing that for the next few weeks you have the inability to signal left.

And your responses...

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