Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Fun Monday (or why I don't ride a motorcycle in Vegas)

I had an interesting yesterday. On my way into work I had a little brush with a drunk driver. Well, not really a little brush and I didn’t realize he was drunk. Driving in to work I was stopped behind a line of cars at a red light. This was on Desert Inn road, and at that point there were five lanes going in my direction; a left turn lane, three thru lanes and a right turn one. This is right after DI goes over I15 and under the Strip, with a speed limit of 45 and over a mile since the last light or cross street, so people really get moving. It was 6:30 in the morning, I was just sitting there looking at the cars going past and glancing at the big video screen showing phone commercials and basically enjoying the sun coming up when I heard the screech of brakes, which is not unusual around here, and thought that somebody was probably in for it, when suddenly I found out it was coming to me. A big thud at the back and I was bounced around a bit before realizing my car had just been hit. Yes, excitement like this I didn’t need.

I drive a little 42mpg Toyota Echo, and looked in my rear view mirror to see the grill of a big Chevy van. Ah well, I hoped he at least had insurance, and wondering what it would cost me to fix the car correctly after the minimum his insurance was sure to argue about. The driver, a fairly young guy, was knocking on my window asking if I was OK, and apologizing about not being able to stop in time. Come on, the light had been red for a few minutes, traffic was backed up with at least a half dozen cars in each lane, and he didn’t see it coming from far enough away to start slowing down? I was OK, turned off the car and got out. I was pushed into the pickup truck in front of me and that driver was also out looking at the back of his truck.

We proceeded to exchange information, the driver behind was in his girlfriend’s truck, but he did have a license and registration and insurance card. In Nevada you are required to have auto insurance in order to get your vehicle registered or renewed. The guy in front called the police, and was told they would be sending out a traffic officer. We sat on the guard wall and waited, with a woman police officer arriving in a car shortly followed by a traffic officer on motorcycle. It was a little cold sitting there, about 47f at that time of morning, with the big monorail station to the east blocking the sun from where we were waiting. Not much traffic that early, but we ended up there for almost an hour and a half, at which time the street was into full morning commute heavy traffic mode. The guy in front, like me, was on his way into work while the guy behind was getting off of a shift as a bartender and going to a second job.

I handed my stack of papers to the motorcycle cop, he asked the woman officer to run the license of the guy in front. Guy in front and I sat there while they went back to their vehicles, which were back behind the big van at the rear. The guy in back kept saying he was sorry and it was his fault and kept walking back and forth. He followed the police officers, and several minutes later we looked back and saw the woman officer putting handcuffs on him and sitting him down in the back of her car. It had never crossed my mind that somebody would be driving under the influence at 6:30 in the morning, with the sun coming up. Then I remembered where I was, in the city that offers everything 24 hours a day, where I can grocery shop at 2 am and buy lumber at 3 am and get a good meal and gamble my life away at any time, and the guy driving the van was just getting off a shift working as a bartender. I guess if anybody has access to booze it would be the bartender.

Eventually another patrol car drove up, and a big male officer got out and put on some latex gloves and proceeded to move the handcuffed driver from the first police car back to his. We sat there for another fifteen minutes before the woman officer came by, we asked her what was happening and she said they were arresting him for DUI, as she proceeded to turn off his van (which had been running all this time) and look around inside. The traffic officer, in his tall leather boots, kept walking back and forth with a measuring device and making notes. Eventually he stopped and said that he would give us a traffic report in a few minutes and we could leave, and we had a little discussion on how cold it must be riding a motorcycle during the winter. Eventually he came back and returned our papers and gave us each a thin strip printout which resembled a supermarket cash register receipt which listed the incident number and some information about each vehicle and driver. We both drove off, leaving a tow truck to pull away the van.

My car was pushed in at the rear, with the trunk still working but folded up a little and one taillight plastic was broken. In the front I had hit a tow hitch on the pickup truck, which dented my front bumper and broke the grill, but not damaged the lights. Since I hit the tow hitch there was no damage to the pickup truck. Since my car was almost ten years old I didn’t have collision insurance, so hoped to get something out of the other guy’s policy. After a morning of phone calls I finally found out that even though the other guy had an insurance certificate the insurance company had not been paid and so the policy was no longer effective, meaning no money out of them. The driver was a part time bartender, driving his girlfriend’s twenty year old van which had lapsed insurance, so I am assuming that any hope of money from that direction is also not valid.

I stopped at the dealer near my house, and found that the most damage was caused by the tow hitch I had hit at the front. Since this was a single point rather than a flat bumper it has bent the two cross members in the front. Estimate? Well over the value of the car, which means in Nevada a licensed auto body shop would not be permitted to do any repairs. It still runs, the plastic bumpers are mostly back in shape, but the mechanic said it is not safe to drive, and with the broken taillight and kink in the trunk it is obvious that something is wrong. So it looks like I will be getting a new-to-me car and have the enjoyable experience of trying to find a good used car to purchase. AAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa. I like my little Echo, and the fact that I only have to put gas into it once a month. Money I did not want to imagine spending right now on a car, since this one is paid off and running well.

OK, enough of my complaints. Since I missed video Monday let’s do something to calm things down.

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