Maybe we have a few things in common. We were both driving back to the office at the end of the day (me to drop off the cases I had picked up, you to do more paperwork). Both five years at our jobs. Both without prior accidents. But I’m actually in marketing, not delivery, and if it wasn’t for the fact that our so many of our drivers had called in sick, I wouldn’t have been on the road at this particular time on this particular day.
It was actually a few factors that led to my driving into the dirt shoulder, and eventually, settling in a ditch facing the wrong way in the grassy median. You drove from the onramp directly into the passing lane — where I was — without checking your blind spot. Or signaling. I didn’t realize you were coming into my lane and about to hit me until it was too late. I didn’t have time to brake, so I had to drive half onto the shoulder. As I steered back onto the cement road, it caused a difference in traction between my left and right tires. It made me veer left, and I tried to correct it by steering right. Then the same thing happened in the opposite direction.
From my days years of playing Grand Theft Auto, I learned to turn in the direction of the skid to regain traction. Except that’s when you’re in a tailspin, not a side spin. It’s also a little different when it’s a compact car in your hands, instead of a sports car on the screen. Not that it would have mattered; by the time I realized that I was spinning out of control, I didn’t have time to think.
It was a fairly nice day out. Cloudy with few scattered showers, but that means I don’t have to crank the A/C (which drowns out my music) and I don’t have to squint. In fact, it was probably the rain earlier that day which caused the soil to loosen up; otherwise, the car may have flipped at the speed I was going. Otherwise, the pavement was dry, which is why I wasn’t expecting to skid. Maybe if it was my own car, I would have known how to handle it better.
There was no impact. No thud. Just a screech from half my tires locked and sliding, ending with me it the ditch. I emerged from the vehicle shaking slightly, wondering how I didn’t hit any other cars during rush hour. I looked back and saw that you had stopped on the shoulder too; I guess you did see me (albeit a little too late), otherwise, you would have kept driving.
The tow truck driver, looking rough and provincial, came out of his cab and asked me right away if I was alright. He got my car out of the ditch, and was a gentleman through and through.
I found it strange that I had to pay the towing fee when it was in no way my fault, but perhaps each person in an accident is responsible for their own towing. I had never been in an accident before; I wouldn’t know. I didn’t question it because I didn’t feel like arguing with a cop at the time. Besides, the company would probably reimburse me for it. You did get me a discount through the police, and the towing company lowered their rate from $175 to $50.
To be honest, I’d probably be more angry if it was my own car, instead of a company car. Or if I had to pay for the towing out of my own pocket. Or if I hit another car during my spin. Or if I was injured in some way. Or if you blamed the accident on me.
But you seem to be beating yourself up about it more than I am. And whether it’s because the incident is going on your permanent record is irrelevant. I kept trying to tell you that shit happens, things like this happen to the best of us, but you seemed to have a hard time letting it go. To me, the important thing is that you apologized, when you could have blamed me, and the other officers would probably have believed you.
I can understand why you called your sergeant, and why you wanted to do it by the book. Having been freshly transferred from a small neighbouring city, with only a few months on the local force, it makes sense to cover your ass.
Even my best friend, who’s a lawyer and deals with the police quite frequently, told me that he was surprised at how cooperative you were. Maybe you’re still green, less grizzled, not pessimistic, but I hope it’s not just a case of being fresh on the force. I hope anyone reviewing your file will keep in mind that we’re all human, that we make mistakes from time to time, and that honesty and integrity count for a lot more than our occasional slip-ups.
When you shook my hand and addressed me by my name to apologize again, before putting an interceptor in the left lane to clear the way for me to merge onto the highway, it was much appreciated.
Hey, your sergeant let me sit in the back of a squad car. “It’s air conditioned”, he offered, and I couldn’t resist. Partially so I could see what it’s like (it’s cramped back there!), and partially to check out all the cool gear he had in the front. He also got the charges reversed on my credit card for the towing, and billed it to your department instead. Sure, it may have been a hassle to have to drive to the towing company to get the receipt for my refund after all this when I really didn’t feel like driving anymore (and have to pass by the place of the accident), but I wouldn’t have seen the towing guy a second time and been able to thank him again.
No harm was done on my end. There no effect on my insurance. Not even any cosmetic damage to the vehicle, and hopefully nothing done to the wheel alignment or under the hood. It gave me some valuable experience: how to make a statement, what’s involved in a motor vehicle accident report, what details to recall and remember. I think we both learned a lot that day, and if no one gets hurt in the process, that’s fine by me.