Good luck, as I understand it, is when opportunity meets preparedness. Bad luck is? I’m not sure, but starting at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, I had my fair share of it.
At 5:30 p.m. on Friday, my car, a 1986 Porsche 944 Turbo that I have maintained and had a crush on for a long time, was rear-ended. I was waiting to exit a mall parking lot when a seventeen-year-young woman driving a Nissan SUV with Alabama plates slammed into my rear bumper and crumpled it, smashing a fender and shattering all brake and back-up lights. My head snapped back into the headrest and I saw stars, or at least very bright little spots of light reminiscent of van Gogh’s Starry Night.
My car looked like Paul Bunyan had hit it with a sledge hammer. Hers didn’t have a scratch.
It was about 24 degrees that night and I’d run to the store for hot peppers to make lomo saltado. I was wearing a thin sweater and a jeans jacket. I was freezing.
In time an ambulance came. The EMT folks took my vitals and asked how I felt. Mostly angry, I told them. They nodded. “Ooh, a Porsche,” said one and nodded sadly. They ran an EKG and found an irregular heartbeat. Did I know about that? No. I’ve had multiple surgeries over the last five years and no one had pointed this out. Did I want to go to the hospital? No. I wanted to go home. My car was drivable and I limped back to the house. I reported the accident to my insurance company and the agent told me he’d take care of everything.
This was an exaggeration; the next day was a comedy of errors. I woke up sore and with a headache. I called the woman’s insurance company to make sure she had reported the accident. There was confusion regarding where the accident had occurred—Falls Church, Virginia, or Falls Church, Alabama? Eventually, I was sent to a rental car place a few miles away. I got there and the door was locked with no one in sight. The phone rang unanswered. The car I had driven there died in their parking lot. A friend with a tow truck had to rescue me. A few more calls to the insurance company elicited apologies. No, they hadn’t known the Hertz office was out of business. Really? REALLY? They suggested another rent-a-car place.
I had invited friends to my house for lunch that day. When I got home, I set up the table, put out the food, and my low-level headache suddenly went nuclear. I also began to feel nauseous, all signs of a concussion.
After lunch, one friend took me to the second car rental office, and from there I drove directly to Arlington Hospital.
I spent a total of five hours there and, after a catscan, was diagnosed with a minor concussion. I was sent home with a 25-page sheaf of medical papers, a couple of prescriptions and a single yellow pill to help me sleep. In time, I slept.
The good part is that the insurance people were generally helpful, if I disregard the, “if the make of the car you were driving starts with a P, press 7. If it is a white convertible with Firestone tires, press 8. If it has floormats, press 9.” Every time I called, I had to be redirected eight or nine times.
The other good part is that the concussion is minor.
The bad part is that I never got around to cooking the lomo saltado.