Have you ever wondered why we take out insurance on out cars or homes? The answer is obvious, of course...it's to reimburse us in the case of a huge loss from an accident, a hurricane, a tornado, etc. Fortunately, most of us never have to make a claim for a catastrophic loss. And even when we have a fender bender or a pipe breaks in our home, we are hesitant to contact the insurance company for fear they will raise our premiums. Isn't that a strange circumstance? We pay for something that's supposed to protect us, and then we're afraid to use it because it will raise the cost of using it again in the future.
I have personal experience with this scenario and have had the dubious distinction of hitting the same concrete pole in the Neiman Marcus parking lot, three times in the last twenty years. I offer no excuses because I can't. I am not a bad driver, but I secretly believe that pole recognizes my car and attacks it when no one's around to see it. That's the excuse I gave my husband the first time. Being a kind man with a great sense of humor, he laughed at my ridiculous story and told me not to worry and to drive to the dealership’s body shop for a repair estimate. When I returned home, horrified by the amount they quoted to replace the right side of the rear bumper, I was greeted by a dozen long stem roses and a reassuring hug from him.
How, I wondered, can one dented bumper cost so much to fix? I was told that it was not possible to hammer out the dents, which seemed easy to me. The entire bumper had to be replaced. Two thousand dollars and three days later, I picked up my car with its shiny new bumper and promised myself never to let that pole attack me again.
Five years later, I was backing out of the same parking space and inadvertently turned the steering wheel too far to the right to avoid another car. You guessed it. That evil pole viciously jumped out and scrapped the side of my rear passenger door, cracking a tail light at the same time. That repair was even more expensive than the first, as the whole door needed to be scrapped and repainted and the cracked tail light required extensive electrical work.
In both cases, I did not report the "accidents” to our insurance company because I had a perfect driving record and did not want it tainted and/or my rates raised. However, in retrospect, the mathematics of those poor decisions do not make sense. To date, the two repairs have cost me well over $5,000.00. With a $500 deductible, that means my insurance would have absorbed about $4500.00. If I had reported my two skirmishes with that pole, my insurance premium would certainly have gone up, but nowhere near the $4500 I paid the body shop.
The third time that pole hit me was last December. My husband's sense of humor was sorely tested then. He did not get angry, but there were no roses. Luckily this collision resulted in only minor scratches to the passenger front door and they were repainted quickly. I have finally learned my lesson and vow never again to park in that spot next to that pole, no matter how convenient.
In my third novel, “Trapped”, Larry Bennett foolishly under-insured his condo to save money. The decision was nearly a financial disaster for his family. Thankfully, Hurricane Eloise did not do serious damage to his unit, but he was a nervous wreck, worrying about what might happen throughout the 24 hours that the category 5 storm raged outside his windows. Thereafter, Larry willingly paid higher premiums for wind and hurricane insurance and reduced the size of his deductible. It was a responsible decision...and one most of us struggle with from time to time.
I wish I could claim to have arrived at the same sensible conclusion about my auto insurance, but truthfully, I can't. Sadly, because of the Covid-19 virus, the Neiman Marcus store in our area (the scene of my concrete pole disasters) permanently closed a few months ago and therefore I have no reason to park there anymore. The good news is that the aforementioned pole can no longer single me out. I am sad that the store I loved has closed, that people lost their jobs and the restaurant inside, The Little Mermaid, is no longer there and able to serve its famous popovers. On the other hand, I am happy that I will no longer live in fear of being terrorized by the pole and of my I auto insurance premiums rising.
As I wrote this blog, I had a sense of déjà vu and suddenly remembered that on my sixteenth birthday, the day I got my driver's license in Maryland, I drove to the local Hot Shoppe to celebrate. The restaurant had an area where one drove up and pushed a button on a call box, ordered a meal or a soda and the waitress brought the items to your car on a tray. When I was trying to maneuver the car close enough to reach the button, I ran into the orange pole holding the box. So, I guess my trouble with poles began from my first day of driving. And by the way, my parents were not as forgiving as my husband. I was not allowed to drive for two weeks, which for a new driver was a lifetime.
I have a tip for all my readers. Stay away from poles.
Until my next inspiration...ciao.
Car Accident Photo by Michael Jin on Unsplash
Parking Lot Photo by Chris Kursikowski on Unsplash