Kamilla didn’t mean to hit my car; she just miscalculated.
By Aglaia Davis
In college, my favorite story about my beloved Woody Allen was by a former NYC cab driver who recalled getting hit by a limousine around Washington Square Park and a raving Allen springing out from the backseat, cursing him. (And the cabbie looked at him and said, “You haven’t made a decent film since 1973.”) I figured that my reaction, should anyone ever hit my beloved Batmo, would be something similar to Woody’s, plus a lot of tears. I never wanted to find out.
Batmo, after all, was and is my most precious material possession. The sun rises and sets over and behind “him.” When I am depressed, driving, sitting in, or merely seeing my pimped out Maxima can make me feel happy inside. I smile when passersbys point out and stare at the car’s bullet holes and vanity license plate.
Because of my deep adoration of it, for twelve of the car’s twelve-year life, I had placed and put collision and comprehensive auto insurance on the vehicle. Even as the miles climbed to over 100,000 and Batmo’s book value fell, I could not imagine dropping full coverage on him. I flirted with the idea once, based on the logic of it – Batmo’s Blue Book value was never as high as my subjective one (Priceless) – but it never actually allowed me to stop paying premiums that would have no real benefit.
And so it was with a heavy heart that I called Geico in or about May 2019, after my dearest friend had a crash in his bruiser of a car and was left without collision coverage, and (gulp) asked about removing all but liability coverage on Batmo. I was begging – and I mean begging – for the agent to talk me out of it. Telling her that I had read online that paying for full coverage on an old vehicle was a waste of funds given that insurance would value my car at a measly $1,500; I would pay a $500 deductible; and they would total rather than repair it, I was waiting for the agent to implore me to keep the coverage just because I loved my car. “I mean, if it gets hurt, you won’t pay me to fix it, will you?” I asked rhetorically. The agent did not take the bait. “Your car is very old,” she said. “Here at Geico, we want to save you money. It is best to remove full coverage.”
And so I did. The moment I removed full coverage on the car on Route 3 West, almost at the 46 merger, I was certain something would happen. After all, I had driven Batmo in and out of New York City for a solid 11 years and never had a crash on the roads or vandalism on the streets at night.
. . . But Sunday, June 9, 2019, was just a bad day. It started with me waking to my alarm, springing to action, and rushing to ride at my barn in New Jersey before having to jet off to a bar mitzvah that afternoon. When I arrived at an ungodly (early) hour for me, I discovered that a horse at our barn had killed itself that morning by landing on his head, and a pall was cast over the place.
After a long and drawn out day, Batmo and I turned east, flying magically over the Helix and through the Lincoln Tunnel without stall. On the New York side of things, there lay a five-lane, one-way exit through which one could either turn right (two right-hand lanes), go straight (middle lane), or turn left (two left lanes). We had traveled the road more times than we could count, and our normal route was to go right to 8th Avenue.
Dutifully, I put on my right signal light, looked back, and moved over into the second most right hand lane. To my shock, an older woman in a new car drove right aside me after I had achieved the lane change, battling to get in front of me to cross to the left lanes. She was an inch from my car and her course was unchangeable.
The impact was unfelt, the noise inaudible, and the result unmistakable. Though I had made eye contact with her, the woman insisted on sticking to her “cross to the left” course, hitting Batmo in the process.
I laid on my horn and stopped the car. I jumped out in the middle of traffic – knowing better (based on years of defensive driving for insurance discounts) – and the other driver reluctantly slowed to a halt ahead of me. We both went to the right side of Batmo, where I found damage that was worse than anticipated. I knew it would be a $2,500 job to replace the front fender.
“I can’t believe you hit my car!” I exclaimed.
She denied being at fault, claiming that she was in her lane.
I answered, “Clearly you were not, because you cut me off and are in front of me now, but if you deny it, I will call 911 and we will wait for the cops.”
“Fine,” she said, and we both returned to our vehicles.
I did call 911, reported the hit to my car, and waited. And waited. And waited. We most certainly caused big delays behind us – something I thought would be mortifying to do – but I was determined to get a police report reflecting the resting places of our cars. I called 911 again after 15 minutes and was told this was not high priority. We were last on the list.
Finally, the tortfeasor exited her car and approached with insurance card, registration, and license in hand, raised like a white flag.
“What should we do?” she asked meekly from outside my cracked window.
I got out of the car – she being very concerned that I not get hit by oncoming cars – and I told her I would call Geico to see if we were allowed to leave. The agent told me we could exchange information, take photos, and go our separate ways.
The two of us then helped one another take photos of each other’s vehicles, and snap pictures of all of our information. As I helped her with her phone (me judging her to be in her 60s), I immediately liked her sweet disposition and motherly demeanor.
“I am sorry we had to meet under these circumstances,” I said. “But it happens.”
Before departing, I gave the woman a big hug — twice. I told her to call my mobile so that I had her number, which she did. We parted with sweet goodbyes.
I, of course, did report the accident and started the claim with both her insurance company and mine because, one way or another, Batmo had to be repaired. “She is such a sweetheart,” I told the representatives, “but she did collide with my vehicle.”
The next day, I sent 8o-year-old Kamilla a text message, letting her know that I set up an estimate for the damage to Batmo, and asking her to let me know how her car turned out. And I reiterated it was very unfortunate that we had to meet under those circumstances.
My almost-foe and now friend texted me immediately back. “Your mother raised you amazingly well,” she told me. “You are so kind and loving. I want to take you to a very expensive meal for all the trouble. Thank you for everything.”
We exchanged pleasantries and agreed to meet when her work schedule cleared up.
And that was Batmo’s first (and hopefully last) accident. No, I didn’t rage like Woody Allen down at Washington Square, and wasn’t close to crying. Kamilla didn’t mean to hit my car; she just miscalculated.
And, all said and done, I was “struck” by a pearl of wisdom: When all else fails and the cops don’t come, just hug it out.