Southeast Missouri State University student publication

The Long Lens: Jan. 24, 2018

Tuesday, January 23, 2018
Rachael Long

Over the winter break from school, I was rear-ended, and my car was totaled. No one was hurt in the accident, and for that, I am both lucky and endlessly grateful.

What transpired over the next several days was not so lucky. I came to discover the man who hit me did not have insurance. Since I only had liability coverage on my vehicle, I was ó as they say ó screwed.

Flash forward to the end of last week, and youíd find a very stressed out version of me who had been paying out of pocket for a rental car for weeks while waiting to hear from my insurance company and attorney.

On Thursday, I decided it was time I looked for a vehicle to buy to avoid throwing money away at a rental car. On Friday, I bought one.

You could say I moved a little fast.

Buying my first used car is easily the most adult thing Iíve ever done, and Iím strangely proud of myself for it.

But I wonder what will happen to the man who hit me. He tried to convince me not to file a claim or create a record of his destruction. His vehicle was completely unscathed (I guess his lifted pickup truck must not have been intimidated by my Nissan Altima), and he walked away without a care in the world.

I, on the other hand, spent hours on the phone with my insurance company and (what I thought at the time was) his insurance company. I spent money and time renting a car, I lost hours of sleep worrying about how I would pay for the mess he caused me.

I wonder if heís lost any sleep over it. I wonder if he thought twice about what would happen to me when he destroyed my only method of transportation (which was entirely paid off, thank you very much). I wonder if he knows ó despite all the anguish and stress he so graciously gifted me ó I am very much worried about his future.

To be caught driving without insurance, especially if youíve caused a wreck, is no small matter. Heís in very real danger of having his license revoked for a year.

He made one small mistake, and it could cost him his independence. And as much as I hate to say it, I feel for the guy.

Itís human nature to make mistakes. Itís even human nature to run from taking responsibility when we do make them. But blaming human nature isnít good enough. That excuse falls apart thanks to those unafraid to do the right thing, those who wouldnít run and try to evade the law by driving uninsured.

Just before finals week, a fellow student scratched my car with his in a parking lot on campus. This lot has no security cameras, and I was nowhere to be seen when he accidentally swiped my vehicle. It would have been so easy for him to drive away and never look back. I never would have known it was him who did the damage.

But he did the right thing. He reached out to me, apologized and was ready to do what it took to make things right.

I remember being so surprised by his honesty and genuine remorse. And then I was sad, because why should that act of honesty and owning up to your mistakes be so surprising?

Are we really so broken a society that our default mindset is to expect the worst in people?

Iíve always been an optimist. I like to assume the best in people until they give me a reason not to. So to say Iíve been conflicted about my feelings toward the man who totaled my car is an understatement.

So to that man, to the driver who hit me and wrecked my life: I hope you make the best of a bad situation. I hope you turn a corner. I hope you get some insurance. I hope you know I donít resent you for your apathy, but forgive you for this mess you put me in.

But someone has to pay for that cute little Jeep Renegade rental Iíve been driving around. So I guess Iíll see you in court.