Oh, How Fortuna’s Wheel has Been Turning
If you don’t follow me on twitter, you don’t know the run of bad luck I have been having. Wednesday, Captain Sarcastic called to tell me he had bad news. “Who died?” I asked, “No; it’s not that. My car started to make a weird noise…” “Is there a cat stuck in your engine?” (that had happened to me once in law school). “No. The mechanic says I need a new engine. It’ll cost $3,000.” His car is eight years old (mine is ten). I tell him to drive straight to our friend–he works on a car lot and can get us the best deal on a new or used car.
CS calls back soon thereafter to tell me he didn’t make it. His engine officially blew out on the Greater New Orleans Bridge. Lovely. After a long afternoon, we settled on buying a very stripped down 2009 Dodge Journey. Since Wednesday, I have been having fits about being in a car note again. Suffice to say, we will be eating a lot more home-cooked meals. And that’s not terrible.
Yesterday, I finally accepted that we could manage the car note and let it be. Only to come home and find the SECOND red light photo ticket sitting in the mailbox for me. That’s another $110. The first one I thought I’d fight (it’s the lawyer in me). But after mailing it in to fight it, I have been advised that it isn’t worth fighting and I will now also have to pay court costs. Again, it took me all night to come to terms with this hemorrhaging of money it seems we are doing lately.
Today, I woke up renewed. I think it was the margarita I drank last night that helped me sleep. I loaded Sun into our new fangled car and drove to meet CS. At a light, I felt a bump. “What the…?” Sure enough, I had been rear ended. In case you lost count, this is in the THREE DAY OLD CAR. I stepped out of the car and see a large scratch on the bumper. Errrr. The couple in the other car are screaming at each other–the female passenger is screaming profanities intermingled with expressions of not having insurance. My blood pressure continued to rise as Fortuna’s wheel dipped.
Folks, I swear I am not making up what happened next. The driver of the other car stepped out of his car. With his Red Stripe in his hand. Red Stripe beer. In his hand. Beer. Hand. Driver. I could not believe my eyes. I must have done a quadruple-take. And what did he do with his beer? Well, he DRANK IT, of course. I swooned. Then returned to tend to a screaming baby. Then I called the cops and began the wait. All the while, the driver is screaming at me that there’s no damage and I am being ridiculous. And the female passenger is crying asking me how long this will take.
Then I wise up and ask for their information. The female is now sitting in the drivers’ seat. She hands me her license and (God bless) the car’s insurance card. As I am writing her information down, my pen explodes. Blue ink all over my fingers. Undaunted, I stay on my task and tell her, “I hope you don’t plan on telling the cop you were driving.” Then I tell them I need to see HIS license. There is more screaming from her to him. He steps out of the car and comes around to me. Then he turns to his girlfriend who is screaming that she can’t believe he doesn’t have a license (somehow I could believe it) and screams, “BITCH, SHUT UP OR I WILL KILL YOU.” And what does your fearless dumb Nola do? She tells the boyfriend, “Look! It isn’t her fault or mine that YOU caused this accident. If you don’t have a license, just say so but stop screaming already!” Then I hightailed my ass back to the safety of my car.
And I kept an eye on that beer bottle. I was expecting them to throw it in the bushes on the neutral ground. He didn’t. As he got out of the car over his license inquiry, I had seen him tuck the bottle between the seats of the car.
Finally, the cop shows up. I hear the other driver say the accident was the result of slippery wet streets. I tell the cop about the beer bottle. You know, the RED STRIPE BEER I SAW HIM DRINKING AFTER HE HIT MY CAR. The cop goes back to the other car and I watch in the rear-view mirror. He has the driver open the back door of his car and shuffle some things around (the driver, not the cop). Then the cop comes back and tells me, “I don’t see a beer bottle. And I don’t smell booze on his breath. And he’s not slurring his speech.”
Inside, I raged against the injustice; the laziness; the stupidity. I said, “He should be sent to jail.” To which the cop responded, “There’s no proof he was drinking.” And I responded, “Yes there is. It’s in the car. He didn’t throw the bottle outside. Look under the seat yourself.” He shrugged me off and said, “He’ll get a ticket for no license.” The end.
It dragged on, but that was the gist of it. Once I pulled away, I burst into tears. This kind of thing really offends the lawyer in me. I get that it could have been a lot worse–that Sun or I could have been hurt or the car, you know, totaled. I GET IT. But it does NOT negate the fact that this man was driving WHILE DRINKING A BEER I SAW THE BRAND NAME OF with no license. I am pretty certain had that have been me, CS would have been retrieving me from jail.
And my anger! I know had I left it unchecked, I WOULD have been arrested for assaulting a police officer, verbally or physically (depending on how off the deep end I’d have gone). It took every ounce of my self control to keep that anger in check. It wasn’t easy. Especially watching the other driver walk around chatting on his cell phone like this was all nothing.
After it was all over and done with, I swapped cars with CS. I also give him Sun and her baby bag. As I was driving off, I looked at the back of our new car. It seems what I thought was a scratch was dirt. There is, in fact, such little damage you cannot see it from two feet away. It makes me giggle. Had I seen NO damage and NO beer, I’d have driven off without concern. Serves that jerk right.
A bit placated, I drove to get coffee at CC’s on Veteran’s Boulevard. After ordering and pulling up, I realized the cash I left the house with was not in my wallet–I must have put it in the baby bag. Oh, for the love of all things holy! I pulled up and explained to the clerk, whose name tag said “Rita,” that I was having one of THOSE days and left my cash behind and could I charge the $2.75? Lovely Rita says, “Sure you CAN, but don’t worry. Here (and she handed me my coffee). Catch us back next time.” I almost burst into tears again.
Later, I realized my cash was in the pocket of my jeans. Doh! So I returned to CC’s to make right. Sweet Rita was still working the drive-thru. She simply WOULD NOT let me pay for my earlier cafe au lait. So I gave her a $5 tip. And I drove away wondering what state I’d have to move to in order to stay married to CS but to also marry the sweet and lovely Rita.