We had heard through unofficial sources on Friday that we should prepare for the worst, and today Audrey called me to say that it was official; there was no hope of recovery. I made the arrangements to go and collect the personal effects this afternoon.
I don't mind admitting it: I was a little upset. Partially by the suddenness of it, but also by the lack of fairness. One individual's lack of perception or forethought and their subsequent actions had caused a dramatic and stunning change amongst people who would have been far happier to be left uninvolved. Still, at least that person had taken responsibility, and everyone else involved had been sympathetic to the situation, which was helpful.
When Fenya and I arrived, I introduced myself and the lady at the desk smiled, a little wistfully, saying, "So, you've come for your things then?" I nodded. "Give me a moment," she said, "and I will lead you around back."
A moment later, she took us outdoors, into a fenced enclosure, saying "Well, here it is. Take all the time you need, and you can even bring your vehicle into the yard if that helps."
"I don't think that will be necessary," I said, "but thanks kindly."
Again, the understanding smile. "Of course," and she returned to her desk.
The red Corolla, our former automobile, was hardly what I would describe as a shattered wreck, or a shambles. There was no mistaking the evidence of the collision in the right rear door and over the wheelwell, but it certainly didn't seem to be severe enough that the cost of repair would exceed the value of the vehicle. The lady from the body shop had been surprised as well, but there it was: our former ride was soon to be hauled off to the wreckers, and Fenya and I were there to ensure none of our belongings went with it.
Last Monday, driving home from school, northbound on 97th street, just south of the Yellowhead, Audrey had to move over to the side of the road to accommodate an ambulance coming from the North. A Ford Escape behind her seemed uncertain of where to go, and Audrey put her hand in a standby position above the horn. As the SUV moved directly towards her, she honked the horn, but it was too late; contact was inevitable.
On the plus side, his last-moment swerve upon hearing Audrey's horn probably reduced the impact considerably, and potentially saved my family from injury, but the change in angle meant he effectively 'scooped' a crater into the starboard side of our faithful runabout.
Audrey and the other driver pulled over into a residential area to survey the damage and exchange information, and, to his credit, the Escape driver was prepared with his license, registration and insurance details, and was extremely apologetic.
No one was injured, but the shock and surprise of the impact was enough that Audrey's hand shook so much as to make taking pictures of the damage and documents impossible, so she quickly delegated that to Fenya.
I took Fenya to the doctor on Wednesday and confirmed that she does have the soft tissue trauma injury colloquially known as whiplash, but it doesn't appear too severe, although physiotherapy is a possibility.
Having procured a rental car from the collision architect's insurance company with very little hassle, I was content to let the repairs take their course and have the insurance fairies wave their magic wands until resolution, but alas, it was not to be. Although our own insurance provider is advocating on our behalf, now that the Corolla's repair estimate has exceeded its value, we need to research just how much we feel that replacement value ought to be, negotiate that with the insurers, and only THEN can we start sorting out the purchase of a replacement vehicle.
This is only problematic because I hate it.
I hate major purchases; I'm never certain if I am getting a good price or adequate financing, and was quite content to have our household drive the 2009 Corolla into the ground, perhaps having one of the girls drive it off to post-secondary education or some such. Now it is back to scouring car ads and dealing with salespeople and finance reps, and I don't think my level of discomfort is going to have a pronounced effect on the amount of money forthcoming from Mr. Whoopsie's insurance company.
Shouldn't it really, though? I mean, here we are preparing for our church's annual Pigeon Lake long weekend, which Audrey is organizing largely by herself, and immediately following that is G&G X, and there is still so much preparation left for that! Beyond Serenity Gulch lagging development schedule and a number of denizens needing to be painted, there is cleaning and cooking and sleeping arrangements to sort out. Pretty much the very last thing our household needs at this juncture is another stressor involving a multi-thousand dollar purchase for a complex mechanical item we will use every day!
And yet, it could have been so much worse. Edmonton has so many aggressive drivers, and just this morning the news reported a man driving off the freeway at two a.m. at such a velocity he drove through a fence, a garage and into a house, rendering it uninhabitable. No one was hurt there, either, although the people had only moved in the week before...I really should count my blessings, shouldn't I?
And I do, but as Fenya and I retrieve the compact discs and floor mats and road maps and sunglasses and snow brushes from the Corolla, I can't help but think: had he just exercised a smidgen more judgment, life for all of us would have proceeded as normal, and we would have lived blissfully unaware of what it takes to replace a six year old automobile, well maintained and safely driven.