Normally, I’m not one to write columns about what goes on in my personal life, but this week, I feel the need to vent.
I’m very angry. I’m frustrated. I’m depressed. I’m stressed.
Most of all, I’m fed up.
On June 26, a 69-year-old Oxford woman travelling south on M-24 made a “hard right” to avoid rear-ending a vehicle that was stopped in front of her, waiting to make a left turn, according to the Oakland County Sheriff’s report.
In doing so, the report stated she “lost control” of her vehicle, jumped the curb, sped across the lawn in front of the Oxford Leader and smashed into not one, not two, but three vehicles sitting in our parking lot.
Fortunately, no one was injured or killed, but the lot looked like a demolition derby.
Crash into three cars to avoid hitting one – must be the New Math.
One of the vehicles she creamed was mine.
She totalled it. She caved in the front. The frame was damaged. Just about every fluid contained within the engine spilled forth onto the asphalt. The colors swirled together and the fluids formed a toxic little lake in the shadow of the wreck.
Now, I’m left trying, scratch that, struggling to figure out how to get back what I had.
You see I have a very unique situation here.
My vehicle was a 2010 Ford Escape XLT and it was in excellent condition, both inside and out. When I got it last August, it had only 5,831 miles on it – that’s not a typo. The Escape was only used when needed to drive around my Uncle Dominic, who passed away last June. The rest of the time it stayed in the garage and was well cared for by my father, who is meticulous about everything.
On the day of the crash, the Escape had about 11,800 miles on it – again, not a typo. I just had the oil changed and fluids topped off at Complete Auto Repair on June 19 and the odometer read 11,620 that day.
The Escape was perfect in every way. I loved this vehicle and babied it like no other car I’ve had before. I did my best to avoid interstate highways and busy roads as much as possible. I took the roads less travelled, the more scenic, more time-consuming routes, in an attempt to be extra cautious. I avoided making left-turns onto and off of M-24 as much as possible. I didn’t want to risk anything happening to it because I knew how fortunate I was and I knew I could not afford to replace it.
I washed the exterior like clockwork. I vacuumed and dusted the interior frequently. I didn’t allow any trash to accumulate inside it. It was pristine.
But it turns out that was all a complete waste of time because it was destroyed while sitting in a parking lot as I sat just a few feet away inside my office.
The woman who laid waste to my Escape was ticketed by the sheriff’s office, but that’s of little comfort to me.
Because my vehicle was properly parked at the time of the crash, under the law, her insurance company, Allstate, is responsible to pay for all the damage and provide me with a rental car, which I’m currently driving. When a vehicle is damaged while parked, it’s considered property and the whole no-fault thing doesn’t apply.
Unfortunately, my Escape was declared a total loss – no real surprise there – and now, Allstate wants to pay me $10,199 for it.
Sounds good, right? Wrong.
I’m not going to just meekly accept the payout and be on my merry way. I’m going to fight for what’s mine. I’m going to fight for what I had. I’m going to fight to be made whole.
Here’s my issue – $10,199 does not make me whole. It does not make me as I was before the crash.
I can’t replace what I had for that amount.
That sum will buy me a used vehicle with anywhere from 60,000 to 100,000 miles on it. It will buy me a used vehicle that will soon begin nickel-and-diming me to death with the repairs and replacements, both major and minor, that come with age and use.
I had a vehicle with less than 12,000 miles on it. I had a vehicle that – with the exception of oil changes and other routine maintenance – most likely wasn’t going to require the services of a mechanic for quite some time, given I typically don’t drive a ton of miles. I live less than a mile from my office and rarely leave the Oxford area.
Granted, I could put that insurance payout toward a brand new Escape or even a newer used one with very low mileage, but $10,199 wouldn’t cover the whole cost and I would be left making car payments, something I most definitely cannot afford to do.
Besides, before the crash, I had no car payments. I owned the Escape outright. All it cost me was insurance and gas.
Why should I lose money for something that wasn’t my fault? Why should I be forced to reach into my pocket and pay for this woman’s actions? I know life is not fair, but this is absolutely ridiculous.
I’m not looking to profit off this situation, but I definitely should not lose money because of it nor should I be forced to settle for a vehicle that is much less than what I had.
I shouldn’t be saddled with a financial hardship because of someone else’s mistake.
The ticket issued by the sheriff’s office says the crash was her fault, not mine. As much as I hate to use the v-word, I’m the victim here.
Some would say, “Oh well, it’s just a car.”
For those who can afford to replace a vehicle at the drop of a hat or who change vehicles every few years just for the heck of it, I’m sure that attitude is fine.
But for myself and for many others out there who cannot afford to do that, a car is definitely more than “just a car.”
This low-mileage, practically-new Escape was supposed to last me a long time, not a mere 10 months.
I want to be made whole. I want what I had before the crash. That’s logical. That’s reasonable. That’s fair. I’m not going to accept anything less. I shouldn’t have to. Something was taken from me and I want it back.
With apologies to the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas, I will not go gentle into that good night. I’m going to rage, rage against those that seek to deprive me of what is right, what is just, what is mine.
I’m tired of being screwed over by the increasing hordes of people in this world who are irresponsible, careless and oblivious to their impact on others. I’m tired of people who make messes and expect others to clean up after them. I’m drawing my line in the sand and making my stand here.
To quote the character Howard Beale from “Network,” a classic 1976 film – “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!”