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Car Wash Crash

September 27, 2015

This happened a long time ago.  It wasn’t with my first car, but with my second.  It was a gold-coloured Oldsmobile Cutlass, a beautiful car.  I took it to a car wash near my home.

It was the old style of car wash, where they hitch your car onto a moving train, and pull it along through the building.  The sign said to stop your car at a certain point, shift into neutral, and then not to touch the brakes or the steering wheel.  My Cutlass had a floor shift that was not very accurate.  It was quite noisy inside the car wash.  I thought I shifted into neutral.  My car moved forward just as it normally did in that type of car wash.  I heard a bang.  I stomped on the brake pedal.  The attendant shouted “neutral!”.  I pulled the shift lever back a notch.  I guessed that the bang was him pounding on the hood to alert me of my mistake.

After that, the wash proceeded normally.  When I drove my car out of the car wash, though, there was another car stopped in front of me.  The driver came up to me and said “You hit my car”.  I said “I did?”.  We looked at both of the cars.  There was no damage on my front bumper.  I didn’t see any damage on the rear bumper of his car, either.  We did exchange information, just in case we found damage later.  I did not like this situation at all.  I went there to clean my car, but had an accident instead.  I felt dejected.  My inaccurate shift lever had never been a problem before.  It certainly was then.

When I went to our local public insurance corporation to report the accident, something I’d never done before, I was surprised that the agent treated it so lightly.  He burst out laughing with every word I said.  He thought the whole thing was hillarious.  I suppose they don’t get many accidents like that one.  Still, I didn’t see the humour.  It was a serious incident to me.

About a week later, a policeman came to my door.  He asked me if I was involved in the accident.  I said I was, but that I thought I didn’t have to report it to the police if it was under $200 damage.  It was over that, he told me.  That was a surprise to me.  I didn’t see any damage.  However, I said I would report it to the police the next day.  When I went down to a local police station to make a report, the policeman behind the counter filled out a form on a typewriter.  He did the typing with two fingers.  I’d never seen anyone do that before.  Every once in a while, he would backspace over a word and type Xes to cover it up.  Filing the report took ages with all that two-finger typing.  I don’t recall the resolution of this accident, but I’m sure I had to pay at least part of the cost of repairs.

I’ve never told anyone of this incident before.  In fact, I still get an uncomfortable feeling in my stomach just thinking about it, even though it happened many years ago.  There must be some unresolved issues there for me, although I can’t guess what they might be.  I suppose it was the failure on my part.  The result was that events didn’t turn out at all the way I had planned.  I do strive to be perfect.  This was an instance where I was far from that.


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