Thursday, February 09, 2006

People Are Fundamentally Good

After a brief war with a moron on another blog for the better part of this week, God/the universe/karma/serendipity sent me a reminder that people are fundamentally good. Life's lessons come in strange packages, but they are always useful if you pay attention.

Crusing down the street in my trusty Ford Explorer, enjoying Kanye West's "Heard 'Em Say", I approached the intersection on a glorious 90 degree winter day in Los Angeles. The light was green and the post office, my destination, was a block away. As soon as I entered the intersection, however, tranquility came to an end. Out of nowhere, I saw a car in front of me trying to make a left. Although I slammed on my brakes, I knew that I could not avoid the impending collision. At almost full speed, I slammed into the rear passenger side of the car, ricocheted off, slammed into a light pole, bounced off and came to a stop.

It was so surreal, I took a breath and looked around to confirm the reality of what had just happened. But when I turned around to see where the other car was, I saw it driving away. I grabbed my purse and took off running in a futile attempt to chase the guy, but he was too far away. Returning to my car, I found crowds of people who asked if I was okay, offered to call the police and gave me their phone numbers with offers to be witnesses. One guy collected what turned out to be a pile of stuff that fell out of the other car at impact, including some receipts from auto parts. At least I had the year, make and model of the other car.

Having resigned myself to the fact that the other driver was gone and waiting for the police, a middle-aged guy hurriedly walked up to me and flashed his palm. He chased down the other driver and wrote the license plate number on his palm. Even now, I am still touched and impressed and amazed that a perfect stranger would do that for another human being. "It's nice to know there are still good people on this earth", I said to a few of the onlookers, and they nodded in agreement. Here we were - a group of perfect strangers trying to fix the situation. With the disposable camera I keep in my glove compartment for just these contingencies, I photographed my car, the scene, the skid marks, the nasty bruise on the light pole and the glass scattered across the intersection. That is the lawyer in me. Gotta get the evidence.

Going to the scenes of accidents has to be the most boring aspect of policing, so I felt kinda bad for asking the police to come. But such is the requirement for insurance, so I didn't feel too bad. By the time they showed up, most of the witnesses had returned to their lives, but had left their contact information for me. I explained what happened, showed the cop the pile of crap (hopefully evidence) that fell out of the other car, called Dad to find out which of his mechanic clients would handle my car and AAA to take my little tank to the car hospital. The cop asked me if I was okay and he commented that I was really calm for someone who had just been in a crazy accident. "Shit happens", I responded, "and with the guy gone, throwing a temper tantrum isn't going to change a thing." I was just happy that I was in one piece, amazed that my car proved itself to be one hell of a tank and touched by all the kindness of perfect strangers. Everything would be fine.

A few minutes later a tall guy with a heavy accent approached and asked if I was okay. He said he was the passenger in the other car and that the driver was on the way. Apparently, the driver of the other car is a recent immigrant, lived around the corner from the accident and, because he did not know better, he took his damaged car home. When the driver showed up, the cops gave him hell; yelled at him about the illegality of fleeing the scene and I felt sorry for him. When they were done, he approached me and apologized profusely. He could barely speak English, was obviously terrified by the cops and what would happen and felt really bad for causing the accident. It took guts to come back and I respected that.

I smiled, told him not to worry about it and, with half a laugh, asked "you wouldn't happen to have insurance would you?" Unfortunately not.

So, car's at the shop, I am in one piece, insurance claim has been filed, I'm now rolling in Dad's second car, which is great except for the lack of a CD player, and my faith in humanity is restored.


I have to give props to Ford. No more criticizing American cars. With two considerable impacts, the right front panel needs to be replaced and the right side of the hood is banged up. But the car still runs and would have been driveable if the bumper wasn't jammed into the right tire.


At 11:13 AM, February 09, 2006 , Blogger bombsoverbaghdad said...

Hah! Good story! I think people are fundamentally good. Sometimes, when people are put in bad circumstances, or they have learned from the wrong people, they seem bad--and that gets discouraging. It makes us paint society with a broad brush.

When you think about it, we probably come into contact with hundreds of people per day, and there are rarely, if ever, problems. Most people just don't want any trouble. I know I don't.

Glad you're safe!

At 1:32 PM, February 09, 2006 , Blogger Chris said...

Ninety degrees? Ye cats! It's snowing here. I haven't seen the sun in months, seems like.

At 2:53 PM, February 09, 2006 , Blogger Mahndisa S. Rigmaiden said...

02 09 06

Good story and happy it worked out for you. Sorry the immigrant doesn't have insurance though.

I answered your question about leftists and educational policy on the blog. If you read the article in physics today, you will find that a shift in how math and physics is taught as well as the corporatization of the sciences has led us down a slippery and very ugly slope.

At 3:52 PM, February 09, 2006 , Blogger mrsleep said...

Nice story.

Glad you aren't hurt, and the car doctor will spruce up the old Explorer.

At 5:42 PM, February 09, 2006 , Blogger Intellectual Insurgent said...

Chris -

You have got to come to LA. No exaggeration - today was a summer beach day. Bright blue skies, warm breeze, 90 degrees. My long sleeve t-shirt is too warm for the day.

Thanks for the good wishes everyone. :-)

At 7:43 PM, February 09, 2006 , Blogger Stalin the Shark said...

Good lord, I get all busy for a few days, and there are what, car accidents?

And what's that about a blog war?

Tell all. Inquiring minds want to know.

:-), StS

At 8:29 AM, February 10, 2006 , Blogger Intellectual Insurgent said...

In a discussion on BOB's blog about the cartoons, some loser called me a towelhead and a curry-smelling jihadist (which was my favorite of all the racial slurs he hurled at me). I corrected him though. Since Arabs don't eat curry, I suggested that he call me a hummus-smelling jihadist so that he would sound more culturally aware. :-)

At 10:51 AM, February 10, 2006 , Blogger Stalin the Shark said...

(bangs head against wall)

Yes, if you're going to be throwing around derogatory stereotypes, it's helpful to know which ones apply to which ethnicity. Unbefrigginglievable.

:-), StS

At 10:59 AM, February 10, 2006 , Blogger Stalin the Shark said...

...and might I add, now that I've perused it, that that was a beautiful smackdown.

:-), StS

At 11:21 AM, February 10, 2006 , Blogger Intellectual Insurgent said...

Thanks! :-)

Sometimes you need an exchange like that for a little amusement.

At 4:43 PM, February 10, 2006 , Blogger mrsleep said...

Dina, ditto on the smackdown. That was good.

What's the old line? There is one who is a greater fool than the fool. That is the one who insists on arguing with the fool.

I'm sure I butchered the reference.

I belong to a dinner group of 5 couples, and 2 of the wives in the dinner group are attorney's. I have seen many arguments or discussions over the years between the attorney spouses and their husbands. I don't think I've ever seen those husbands win an argument.

Enjoy your weekend, you curry smelling, hummus eating, kool aid drinking, moonbats.


At 4:47 PM, February 10, 2006 , Blogger Intellectual Insurgent said...

Right back atcha Mr. Sleep! Have a good weekend.

At 1:28 AM, February 13, 2006 , Blogger Mr. Wilson said...

hmm... something told me to call you today. don't know why i didn't? i was just wondering what you were up to...but the energy sucking people keep getting to me first these days*

assuming your accident was yesterday (saturday), i find it odd that both you and cynthia had car accidents on the same day (she is fine except for some air bag burns, her car is totaled)

-mr. wilson

*i think i have some stuff to relate to you as well, but everything is nebulous these days...maybe i should try blogging a little myself.

At 4:25 PM, February 13, 2006 , Blogger Boris Yeltsin said...

When my wife was 7 months pregnant with our 5th, she was involved in a head-on, while stopped at a red light, waiting for it to turn green. The other driver just took the turn too wide, but never slowed down because she was turned around, smacking her kid while making the turn. Anyway, my wife was in our Ford Taurus wagon. My daughter 5 year old was in the front passenger seat (which I'm aware, she wasn't supposed to be there.)

But guess what? No one was hurt, except the driver who caused the accident. She was in a Chevy Astro minivan - but she wasn't hurt bad - just a cut on her forehead, and that was it.

Not even a scratch for my wife and daugther - and it didn't affect her pregancy one bit!!!

At 4:26 PM, February 13, 2006 , Blogger Boris Yeltsin said...

Fords rock!!

At 8:53 PM, February 13, 2006 , Blogger Intellectual Insurgent said...

Go Fords!

The claims adjuster told me that, although American cars aren't dazzling mechanically, nothing beats American steel.

At 11:40 AM, February 22, 2006 , Blogger Possum said...

Sorry I'm late here, catching up...

First: glad to hear you are ok
(same for the wife and 1.5 kids there Boris!)

Second: good for you for sticking to the scene and being a good citizen...

Third: Fords may not be the most svelt thing to drive and have crappy resale value but they can take a lick and be fixed.

As far as "innate goodness" I think you are streching it a bit. People sometimes reach out to help, but only as far as we are not too terribly inconvenienced or when we can sympathize. Five minutes of effort is a good start but not a foundation of anything promising.

Not to be a bummer, but the truth is man is inherantly selfish. (A correlation to that materialism observation you have made) It takes effort not to be selfish. Many are rarely willing to extend themselves to make the effort. I'll readily admit to not extending myself enough to help others as long as I'm being devils advocate here.

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