A dear friend suggested I should sit at the beach, which is my happy place, to write. She recognized its power to inspire creativity. Agreeing with her assessment, I packed up a bag with my beach towel, hat, sunglasses and laptop. No sooner had I put the leash over my dog’s head and opened the front door it started to rain.
“Sorry Tucker,” I said to my dog. “Looks like we’ll have to wait a bit.”
I futzed around with other items that were on my to-do list for the day until it was time for my lunch appointment. I had agreed to meet up with my girlfriend’s parents, who are in their late 70s, to help them fix their phone. From what I understood, their iPhone was having some looping issues. They had taken it to an AT&T store which hard-reset it and gave it back to them. When they got home, they realized it had been accidentally switched to Spanish.
They are not the most technically inclined, and while I’m not either, I was fairly confident I could figure out how to get it back to English. My girlfriend also wanted me to help re-download their apps, which had been deleted in the reset. She had originally downloaded them on their behalf to get them set up…I simply needed to get them back on track. I was up for the challenge!
It was going to be a mix of work and pleasure by enjoying a lunch with this adorable couple. I was less than two miles away from the restaurant, turning left onto Seal Beach Boulevard from Pacific Coast Highway, when BAM!
An orange Corvette, that had run a red light, slammed into my Honda with a force I hadn’t felt before. It all happened so quickly I barely knew what happened as I looked to my right and saw my green turn light turn yellow. I was shaken, my heart was beating fast against my rib cage, which had a stinging seat-belt burn.
“That’s going to hurt later,” I thought to myself as I tried to piece what just happened together. I started looking around my car trying to find something that would trigger my memory on what steps I needed to take now. I grabbed my purse that had flown to the floor and pulled out my license and insurance car.
I looked up and realized I was stuck to this Corvette in the middle of the intersection. I saw the older man who hit me get out of his car and he seemed ok. I put my car in reverse and it wouldn’t go anywhere, so I put it in park, hit the hazard lights button and carefully got out of the car. My back started to seize up as it does whenever it’s had a jolt.
“Are you ok?” I asked the man who hit me.
“My beautiful car,” he cried. He didn’t bother to ask me if I was ok, his concern was his car.
I started to take photos of the cars out of instinct. A man in a raised Jeep Wrangler pulled up and said he witnessed everything.
“So you saw he ran the red light?” I said.
The man scowled at me and said, “He had a green, you ran the red.”
“Absolutely not,” I said. “I definitely had a green.”
“Oh good,” said the older man, who I later learned was named Tom. “Can I get your number as a witness? I know I wouldn’t have run a red light.”
“Don’t you know without someone telling you that?” I asked. “Because I absolutely had a green light. I was stopped at the red and then the straight lanes next to me went red and I got the green to go.”
These two men, ignoring me, exchanged information as I saw a woman who had pulled over walking up to me.
“Is he claiming he had a green light?” she asked. “I’m Brenda by the way.”
“Yes,” I said. “I know I had a green turn. And I’m Jenn.” We shook hands.
“I know you did,” she said. “I was at the red when he zoomed past me and I honked to warn you both. I saw the whole thing and called it in. The police should be here soon.”
“Oh thank you,” I said. “Thank you so much! Do you mind staying to give a statement to the police?”
She stated she had some time before picking up her daughter at school and wouldn’t mind staying. We exchanged information. I was so grateful to have a witness that experienced it the same way I did. She agreed to talk to my insurance provider while reiterating to Tom that he ran a red light. He continued to deny it.
The police arrived and said they don’t file any paperwork or take statements for car accidents. That it would be up to us to handle with our respective insurance providers. I exchanged contact and insurance information with Tom, while the responding officers called tow trucks and basically stayed out of it. Their concern was getting our cars to the side of the road and traffic moving smoothly again.
Tom was able to get his car unstuck from the side of mine and we both pulled our cars to the side of the road. The tow trucks arrived and that was the end of that.
I called my girlfriend to let her know I wouldn’t be able to meet her parents, who were being stood up. I felt terrible to leave them hanging, but the universe had other plans for me today that didn’t include a friendly lunch on Main Street.
I have no idea how this will turn out. It’s my word against Tom’s, and two witnesses who saw the opposite thing. It just goes to show that everyone sees life through their own lens and it’s made up of shades of gray.
I’m feeling very grateful for seatbelts that do their jobs and cars made well enough to absorb impact like that. It could have been much worse. I’m ok, sore, but ok. That’s what matters most. I’m now at home icing my back and resting.
Needless to say, there won’t be a ‘new’ thing today…sometimes it’s just not in the cards. And that’s ok. As my favorite Woody Allen quote goes, “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.”