If The Accident Doesn’t Kill You, These Random Busybodies Will

, , , , , | Legal | June 28, 2020

This happened a few years ago when I was still in my twenties. 

I drove home from work on a sunny afternoon. Just next to a cafe on the main road with heavy speed regulations, I got involved in an accident together with three other cars.

In front of me were two cars, and we all were going at slow speed — 50 KmH — as is usual in closed villages. Right after a curve in front of the cafe, the first car, all out of the blue, went to a full stop without slowing down first or indicating anything. They just hit the brake fully without any reason; the street was clearly empty.

Both the car right in front of me and I managed to slam the brakes and stop in time. But only barely so. You could only manage to get a sheet of paper between our bumpers, and despite the slow speed, we’d both managed to leave skidmarks and you could hear our tires screeching on the asphalt.

My heart was pounding and I sank forward against the steering wheel, relieved I hadn’t run into the car in front of me. The next moment, another car slammed into mine from behind and rammed it into the car in front. I was forcefully thrust against my headrest when the car impacted, then forward into my steering wheel when my car was thrust upon the one in front of me, the safety belt doing nothing to prevent that. I’m lucky the airbag didn’t open.

The very moment the last car shoved us together, the first car that caused all this ruckus by stopping for no reason sped off into a side road and was gone, leaving marks on the asphalt from speeding up.

Feeling fuzzy, I got out of the car and looked around. The driver who had crashed into us was in a nervous frenzy. He continuously excused himself. It was clear the accident shocked him.

“I’m so sorry,” he exclaimed. “I think I was going too fast. I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry! I didn’t see you! I’m so sorry,” he repeated like a broken record on and on.

I was still dizzy, standing on the side, completely useless. The driver who was in front of me looked around and immediately called the police while two women who were sitting outside of the cafe came over and watched.

The police there mere minutes after the call. They must have been just one street over when they were called and they immediately started taking notes as soon as they got out of the car.

A female officer talked to us and told us we would be able to give account, one after the other, while her male colleague took photos of the street, the tire- and skidmarks, the cars, and everything else.

A waitress from the cafe came out and offered cold water to all of us, which we were very grateful for.

First, the officer talked to the driver who slammed into us from behind. He never denied anything, constantly saying sorry and scribbling his insurance info on little pieces of paper to hand to the other driver and me.

During all that, the two women from the table started to glare at me while the other officer finished taking pictures and started to talk to the man who was in the car right in front of me. 

When the officer turned to me, they chimed in before she could say anything, “We’ve seen everything very clearly! We know exactly what happened!”

They looked and sounded very annoyed and immediately started giving a very confusing report of the accident, constantly talking over each other. They didn’t say anything wrong, but it was clear that somehow they had the opinion that the accident was my fault, because I’d come to a halt so close to the front car. They made no secret of their opinion that the poor guy, who already admitted to being at least 20 KmH too fast and distracted by his radio, should only have shared responsibility because of me keeping too little distance.

The officer took the contact info of the women and notes of what they were saying, but got clearly annoyed the longer the two ranted on, and finally, she cut them short.

“You don’t have it right,” she said. “Regulations say that as long as she manages to stop without hitting the car, the distance is enough! The driver who hits is the driver who’s responsible. She has to keep one second or fifteen metres apart in town, and if she hadn’t done that, she couldn’t have stopped in time.”

With that, she turned to me to take my contact information and statement. I’d not said a single word so far since the accident, and the whole ordeal had only taken about twenty minutes so far. I still couldn’t believe everything was happening so fast. Without any reason apparent to me, both women glared at me with full hatred now. 

Before the officer could say anything more to me, one of them started another try to shift blame to me: “You know, officer, I’m not so sure anymore that she really stopped in time. I think she bumped the other car just a little.”

The officer turned around to them again and looked as if she was about to explode.

All of a sudden, the other officer chimed in, “Excuse me, ladies, but that’s not at all possible. I’ve just talked to this gentleman here and he clearly stated that he saw her stopping right behind him and didn’t hear or feel anything crashing or bumping into him before the other car hit them. And even if it happened that he couldn’t recall that, the tire and skidmarks very clearly show what happened here. So, if you change your statement now, that would be a false claim and a crime. Just trying to inform you before you do something stupid.” He smiled at them wickedly.

“So, she gets away with this!” one woman exclaimed, just to get stopped by the female officer again. She had calmed down a little but still looked angry.

“That’s all, thank you,” she said.

The woman tried again, but her friend had caught the clue and tugged at her sleeve and they walked away. Both shot me another hateful look.

I was close to tears by now. My body ached, I felt dizzy and sick, and for the love of God, I had no idea what motivated them.

The female officer took my contact info and a short statement. She curtly nodded at me, gave her colleague a thumbs-up, and walked away to their car to radio in. She sounded and looked extremely angry the whole time. Her colleague saw me shaking and carefully led me back to sit down next to the police car on a chair the waitress had also provided and where the two others were already sitting and waiting.

“Do you know those two?” he asked me and I could only shake my head. “And you?” he asked the responsible driver who had been next to us the whole time, and he just looked bewildered and shook his head, too.

Then, he looked back to me and sighed. “Don’t worry,” he said to me. “This has been the most obvious accident in my whole career. The front driver even remembered the license number of the car who stopped in front of you — no idea how he managed this — and at least you’ve been hit by a gentleman who owns up to his mistakes. Nothing will happen to you.” He encouraged me with a friendly clap to my shoulder and a smile.

Even his colleague now managed to give me a smile while she called towtrucks and an ambulance since I felt so dizzy. The other driver still kept apologizing almost incoherently now.

It turned out later when we phoned about insurance that he hadn’t been wearing his seatbelt and got a concussion from hitting his steering wheel too hard.

Everything turned out fine. The hospital told me there was only a very mild impact on my head and most of my dizziness came from staying too long in the sun after the fright I’d experienced, and after a few days, I was right as rain.

The insurance of the other guy paid with no quarrel, and I found a new used car even better than my old one. When I got back to the cafe to thank the waitresses for their kindness, I got a nice slice of free cake on top, and I never heard anything back from the police.

All in all, for having such an accident, I was still lucky.

But to this day, I have no idea what motivated two complete strangers to pour so much hatred on me, and why they decided I of all people should take shared responsibility for something I had absolutely no control over.

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Should’ve Left That Confession In The Drafts

, , , , , | Legal | June 13, 2020

Back when they first made texting and driving illegal, a lot of people were still doing it.

My friend is rammed by another woman in a parking garage. When the police officer shows up, he thinks the woman who rammed my friend was just looking for a parking space, so he is writing a warning. 

Woman: “I’m so sorry; I shouldn’t have been texting—”

Police Officer: “What?! Texting?!”

He ripped up the warning and gave her a very expensive ticket, instead.

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Welcome To The Inconvenience Store

, , , , , , , | Working | June 8, 2020

While in college, I work from 5:00 pm to 1:00 am at a 24/7 gas station by myself. The person that works the shift following mine is supposed to come in at 12:30 am to take over the register while I count out my drawer and complete shift paperwork before clocking out.

Unfortunately, the person that most frequently works that shift tends to be fifteen to forty-five minutes late. This isn’t a major issue because, on average, it only takes me ten to fifteen minutes to complete my drawer count and paperwork, and if there aren’t any customers around, I can pull my drawer while I wait for my coworker to get in. 

One night, she calls me around 12:30 to let me know she is running late. She either overslept or had to mediate some argument between her daughter and husband; these were the usual excuses and I can’t remember which happened this time. At this point, she has to shower and get dressed before leaving her house and ends up not getting in until almost 3:00 am. This is annoying, of course, as I have homework to do and classes to get up for the next day. It also ends up causing panic for my roommate.

The store I work for has a strict no-cell-phones policy; if the cameras catch me with my phone I will be fired on the spot. I can use the store phone, but I don’t have my roommate’s number memorized so I have no way of notifying him that I am running late. I assume he’ll either be asleep or realize it is a case of my usual coworker issues. I am wrong.

Not long before my coworker finally arrives, my roommate realizes I am unusually late and attempts to call my cell phone several times. When I don’t answer, instead of looking up my store number, he looks up the number for the police department in town and calls there to have someone check on me. In his worry, that makes sense, but it causes an escalation of events.

I have established a friendship with several of the officers in town that work the night shift. As I am a young woman working alone at night, they make an effort to check on me at least once per night, more often if they have time, sometimes opting to take their breaks at my store to keep an eye on things.

This relationship, combined with the fact that my roommate didn’t think to mention he’d only called my cell phone and the officer that responded assuming the store was called, results in an officer I know well speeding into the parking lot with lights flashing just after 3:00 am. He parks in front of the door, runs into the store, not even closing his car door behind him, sees me safe behind the counter, and starts shouting at me, “Answer your g**d*** phone! Your roommate is worried! I have four squad cars on the way; what the h*** are you doing here?!”

He promptly runs to his car to call off his backup while my recently arrived coworker and I share confused looks.

It is nice to know people are looking out for me, but it certainly makes for a startling end to my very long shift. Moving forward, I have made sure to have my roommate’s number readily available and I have given him my store number for emergencies.

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Breaking News: There Are Idiots Everywhere

, , , , , , | Legal | May 29, 2020

My dad told me this story, as one of the strangest events he had ever witnessed in his life. At the time, he was visiting the US from Australia and had decided to go to a cafe for his morning coffee. The main road the cafe was located on had been blocked off and cleared by the local police for a bicycle race coming through the area.

There were signs everywhere, traffic cones, and policemen blocking off intersecting streets. But somehow, a car managed to get through the barriers, or partway through, and ended up stuck on the road. This all happened right outside the cafe, so my dad got front-row seats to the bizarre debacle that happened next. 

A policeman approached the vehicle and tried to explain to the driver that she had to turn around, as the area had been blocked off in anticipation of the race that was about to come through. To my dad’s astonishment, the woman completely ignored the policeman. She wouldn’t even roll down the window; she just pretended like she couldn’t hear him.

The cop got more and more frustrated, repeating louder and louder that she needed to turn around to keep the road clear, and she just continued to ignore him. It got to the point where the cop pulled out his gun and pointed it at the woman — something which completely shocked my dad because it would have been illegal for an Australian cop to pull out a gun under the same circumstances. But even with a gun aimed at her at point-blank range, and the owner of said gun yelling at her to get out of the car, the lady still ignored him!

Finally, the cop ended up using the butt of his gun to break the window, and only then did the driver acknowledge his presence. Just when my dad didn’t think things could get any weirder, the crazy lady got out of the car and started berating the cop for breaking her window, insisting that he was going to have to pay for the damage.

She was arrested, of course. The whole thing was so absurd that my dad could barely rationalise it; it almost seemed like a parody sketch or a prank of some kind. My dad joked that he had half a mind to go up to the two of them after all that to thank them for the entertainment they had put on for the tourists and ask where he was supposed to pay.

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A Pregnant Pause In The Middle Of Their Ride

, , , , | Legal | May 13, 2020

I’m pregnant with my second child and I begin to feel a few contractions. I call my doctor and she wants me to get an exam before the upcoming delivery, so I take a rideshare to the hospital. I know, from my first birth, that I’m still hours away before the baby comes out, and the contractions are still manageable without much more than a grunt, but car rides are very uncomfortable under those conditions.

We get stuck in traffic a few blocks from the hospital, and I suggest the driver turns on a different street that, from what I can remember from the last time I went to that hospital, will get us there. But I’m wrong and the driver makes a U-turn to get us back to the right path. It’s a little residential street, and several streets just like this one are two-way streets in this area. But this is not one.

We come out, going the wrong way, to find out the cause of the traffic jam was a police block. The cop is very excited to bust my poor driver for going the wrong way.

Cop: “You are going the wrong way; what were you thinking?”

Driver: “Sorry, I—”

I know all this is my fault, and I feel awful, so I open my window to intervene.

Me: “Sorry, officer! It was my fault!”

I feel a contraction coming and I let out a roaring scream like in the movies. I catch my breath and continue.

Me: “You see, I’m having a baby and we need to get to the hospital—”

I point to the hospital, just a block away

Me: “—and I thought this street got us there.”

The officer gets very alarmed and tells us to follow him.

I’m very happy he let the driver go without a ticket, especially since cops here are notorious for asking for bribes. But my driver is almost freaking out.

Driver: “WAIT! YOU’RE IN LABOR?”

I let out a very relieved laugh and explained to him that, well, technically, I was, but the baby was still hours away. 

The cop got in his car and escorted us the short distance, sirens blazing. It was all very cinematographic and completely unnecessary since there was no traffic past the police block.

We got there in minutes and all was well with us. I even went back home and then back to the hospital — no wrong roads this time — before having my baby later that day.

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