Do you ever have one of those moments when you sit back and think about things and how they happen in life? Well, I’ve been having those moments a lot lately and the trigger is what I find interesting.
My son has had four accidents between March of 2012 and now. The most recent occurred two weeks ago. I am thankful each time he comes out unscathed and equally thankful so has the other party. The thing is would you believe each accident has been his fault?
I lost it after the second accident, for two reasons; firstly, why him? Secondly, why am I always the last person to know when these accidents occur? Dwelling on the second question, my entire family decided I don’t handle such news well. Okay, they may be right but should I still not be told?
The good thing about these accidents is he has never been issued a ticket; each time the police always concluded the situation was unavoidable, resulting in the usual exchange of information by both drivers and they go their merry ways.
The March accident happened at a rather busy intersection. The driver in front of my son did not move in time after the light changed. In trying to avoid the driver behind ramming into him, my son maneuvered his car but the next thing was bang!
It was a minor fender bender. At that time my son drove a Nissan Sentra, the vehicle he hit was a Toyota truck. Now you all know the Sentra sits low, barely grazing the truck’s bumper. The other driver dialed the cops who asked if there was any injury which he replied negative. They advised they both clear out of traffic and exchange information, they never did show but my son agreed to fix the damage out of pocket to avoid any hike in his insurance premium.
The next day, a family friend in the automobile business got the parts necessary to fix the truck’s bumper. On arrival at the truck driver’s place, the man changed his mind! He insisted on Toyota parts, bought from a Toyota dealer. My son asked why he was going back on their agreement and told him this defeated the purpose of getting his bumper fixed knowing full well the supposed damaged bumper was not even a Toyota bumper for starters. The man could not care less, he insisted on his ridiculous demands.
Understandably, my 22 year old son lost his temper demanding to know why he made him spend almost 600 bucks on a bumper only to refuse.
Frustrated and stuck with the bumper, my son left the man’s house, but our automobile friend promised to keep the parts for use in his shop and would later reimburse my son for the cost. Life is sometimes weird and it did get weird on us. The truck man went ahead to contact the Insurance company to put in a claim!
You can imagine my son’s surprise when his insurance called asking what had happened. He narrated the incident and they asked if there was a police report in writing and tickets issued, my son answered no. The insurance said they would get back to him. The next day, they called back and told him they were a little bit confused because the man claimed a woman hit his car. The last time he checked, he was certain of being a male. My son replied he was the man who had the mild accident with the truck driver. He once again recounted the incident. The insurance company denied the man’s claims on the grounds he was confused and sadly he lost out.
This was justice served! How does a forty something year old man, feel comfortable trying to fleece a young man just starting out? A smile and a handshake would have sufficed for an inconspicuous bumper dent, but he got greedy and thought by claiming through insurance, he would gain more; not caring his words and promise to a young man who begged for his mercy.
We rejoiced and my son’s joy was made fuller because our friend did give him a refund for the full cost of the parts.
Christmas came and went and life continued. Oh! Did I mention that my son’s Nissan did not get a single scratch on it. My boy decided it was time to buy his first car, having saved up enough money; the Nissan was a gift from his aunties. After much searching, he eventually found THE CAR! A grape colored 2000 Infinity sedan. It came with those wheels and tires young folks like. He, his dad and aunt were all so gaga over the deal. He was mighty proud of himself, first solo purchase certified and all with no help from anyone. I too was proud even though I had no clue why the car was so special to them.
He even got himself off our insurance, “I can pay my way now mom.” What a guy! My heart and pocket thanked him. He loved his car and washed it almost every other day and life went on. He and his car continued their love affair, but their bliss was soon short lived. One cool afternoon in February, he went to play football with his buddies in the park. After a fun filled day they talked as they walked back to the parking lot and soon said goodbyes. My son got into his car and while reversing to leave, an SUV coming in did not observe the stop sign and ran into him.
I can’t begin to tell you the effect this had on my boy. Short version, cops were called, they determined he was at fault because of the positioning of the little scratch on the SUV, but again said it was an unavoidable accident and so once more he escaped without a citation. The other driver a middle aged man acknowledged he was at fault, and did not bother with exchanging insurance details; each amicably agreeing to fix their own damages. My son was pleased with the decision; his car had a tiny scratch that was later waxed off.
Two days later in the aftermath as per tradition, I was told about it. Without failure, I nagged and complained about him and accidents, and also not being told in time.
This second accident touched my son and for a while he was a little moody, but like the cheerful person he is, soon bounced back. The end of February came and out of nowhere, the superb vehicle started giving one trouble or the other. First was the lights and sensor else he would not pass inspection, next the tires and some electrical thing. Short version again, the poor kid spent over five hundred dollars in less than a week and the bloody car went rouge even further. The only solution was to sell, and so a sale sign went onto his rear windscreen.
A few days later, pulling out of the driveway unto a major road, a Range Rover came from nowhere and oh yes, you guessed it; he backed into it. The noise got his aunt out of the house while he sat frozen in the car. It was a female driver this time, and from my country Nigeria. She was pleasant according to them and when they looked, it was a miniscule nudge on the bumper. She called the guys in blue and while waiting for them to arrive, chatted with my sister and son. Once more they cleared Philip and the Lady was kind enough to say she would not bother with the insurance details, her words according to my sister, “you could be my son, I’ll get my guy to fix it, it can’t be more than 150 to 200 dollars and I’ll send you the bill.”
“Thank you so much ma’am, you’re awesome!” My son replied as he waved to her seven year old daughter who was in the back seat playing video games all along.
We thanked the heavens once again and prayed a buyer would come for the Infinity. Three days later, the claims department from my son’s insurance called. The woman claimed she was thrown forward and her seven year old sustained whiplash and a cut. That was the final blow to my son’s cheerful demeanor. He was devastated she turned on him like this, but truly believed a spouse or friend must have advised her to make a false claim. We later found out the insurance paid her about fifteen grand!
That made him loose faith in people somewhat, but he soon got over it as lady luck smiled on him. A week later a buyer came calling, a lover of cars. He was aware of all that was wrong with the Infinity, but wanted it still; something to do with its make. My son got his asking price which helped balance his account some, and once again I saw a smile on his face.
The search for a newer better car began and this time he did not mind paying car notes.
“None of that high mileage used car thing anymore mom.”
Soon he found the perfect car…a beautiful Honda Accord. He got my sis to co-sign and with his excellent credit, got 2.5 % interest on it, sweet!
The car was beautiful. The rich leather smell of the interior was just too cool. He was happy, I was happy; everyone was happy. Months progressed and for a couple months, we exhaled. We got into the month of May and just as I was counting blessings, saying how life has been calm and all, I got a call from him this time,
“Mom, you’ll not believe this, but it happened again,” he said in the calmest voice ever.
My heart skipped a beat and I screamed, “omg, not again!”
“Yes mom, again. I ran into this man at the red light but he’s fine and his car is not badly damaged, the bumper shifted.”
“Thank God!” I gasped, “are you alright baby?”
“Mom I’m fine, I’m talking to you ain’t I? I got to go mama, the police just came.”
I was already in tears and my poor husband could not console me. “It’s all good baby, it could have been worse! Thank Goodness no one is injured.”
He was right of course! I knew it but at that point I was mad at God, the universe and everything. Why was this crap happening to my boy?
Twenty minutes later, he called back. I asked if everything was okay, his reply blew me away!
“Mom, I almost doubled over from shock when the man now limped out of his car holding his neck, going oh my neck, my neck! A few minutes earlier before the cops came he was fine. We were both outside our cars, spoke and shook hands.”
“What?” I bellowed. “I hope you told the cops he’s a liar!”
“Mom, seriously? Come on…I was through with the idiot the moment those words came out of his mouth! I didn’t bother with him, just gave the policeman my details and this time, he gave me a ticket for failure to control speed. We were at a freaking red light, we were all slowing down for the light, how the hell is that failure to control speed?”
“Just come home baby, I want to see you okay.” I said and hung up the phone.
I bawled my eyes out that day. Why him? Oh why him? I kept asking and I swear, I heard a voice loud and clear reply, “And why not him? Why should it be another kid or someone else?”
I stopped in my stride and asked my husband if he spoke to me, but he shook his head negatively.
This happens to me a lot, but it’s a subject for another day. My son came home and he was fine. His dad called a body shop we use and our good friend Basil took care of him. They went to see him the next day and he called the insurance. The following day they sent out an adjuster, while he kindly gave my son a loaner car.
As I write this, the car is still being fixed, my son is calm and seems more mature somehow; he is happy with the loaner car. The insurance was very generous and Basil will make it all brand new again, he’s that good!
Returning to thinking about life and how events happen; most times we allow fear, anxiety and despondency overtake and overwhelm an ordinary simple situation that would otherwise have smoothly run its course. There is a lesson to be learned from all situations we find ourselves in…
And my husband always says, “If this did not happen, something worse would have.”
Yes, these accidents were not best for my morale and my normally calm and happy child was caught off guard and rattled for a bit, but fundamentally he quickly understood before I did, what it was life was trying to convey to him.
Though thrown at first, he learnt to see people for who they are. He came to realize when human beings find themselves without backbone, morale fiber or conscience they revert to selfish, territorial, dog eat dog behavior. Everything was a test for both him and the drivers involved in these accidents, he believes he passed these tests but unfortunately they failed.
“They’ll be facing similar tests in their futures mom, until they learn to overcome their weaknesses.”
I was in awe, my son was giving me a lesson about the human psyche and I was never prouder of him.
Count my blessings I did. For each accident no blood was shed, no woman cried over the loss of a husband or child. The perseverance and character of a young man was tested and under strain he did not buckle. He has learnt to be less hurried, taking time to appreciate life for what it is.
Life always finds a way to even things and situations out and here is a classic example, once again involving my son. My roving ambassador of fun went off to the east coast for a music concert with a group of buddies. This time however, it was a seventeen hour drive to the State, but his aunt insisted he return by air offering him half the fare. Grudgingly he obliged; being twenty-three he really did not have to listen to us but fortunately he has a good head on his shoulders.
The 17 hour drive to the concert was incident free, and my son traveled back safely by air. His buddies on the other hand met with a different fate during their drive back home; they ran into temptations leading to the arrest of everyone in the car. Everyone is working on getting them released and hopefully there will be no prison term.
Once again I cried. Why did it have to happen to these kids?
“Why them?” The voice asked, “You are lucky, your son was spared!”
I smiled and whispered, “Oh yes, he was spared, but still why them?
I knew the answer to my question. The same accidents which caused me to cry could very well be the saving grace exempting my son from the trouble his buddies found themselves in. Had fate not intervened, his only crime would have been being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
There are numerous lessons to learn in life but whatever moment we wake up, becomes our morning. This group of young men about to face many tests ahead of their young lives, like many, have no clue what lies ahead, but I pray they see and understand each test for what it is and scale through by grace.
There many roads not yet traveled but with wisdom I believe we will overcome; maybe sometimes not unscathed. A couple of dents and bruises never killed anyone. Positively embraced, each dent or bruise can only serve to strengthen and fortify us for further tests until we are molded to a level that agrees with all that guides and shapes us as humans.
We can only grow.
This is for you Phil, give thanks each morning for a new born day. I love you.