Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Primal scream therapy -- or -- Getting the morning started on the wrong bumper

Last night's promised ice storm did not materialize here in Chicago. There was even the barest glimpse of the Sun at times this morning. You might think this might soften my curmudgeonly temper.

You might think that, but you'd be wrong. Read on....

The backstory: Younger Daughter drives Youngest Son to his school, then continues on to her school for the 7:00 a.m. Band class. Because the bus doesn't get there in time for it.

Regular readers will know of my extreme reluctance to permit this, my various stalling strategies, and my inevitable (and probably graceless) capitulation.

Since shortly after we started on this, Younger Daughter has also undertaken to drive a neighbor girl. Which has been fine. They're going to the same place. Recently, after the neighbor girl's older brother totaled his car while driving to school, he's tagged along, too. Well, he goes to the same school as Youngest Son... so there's no frolic or detour required.

On the other hand, Younger Daughter has been kind of sweet on this neighbor boy for many years now. She has invited him, in fact, to three dances at her all girls' school over their respective high school careers. He has never reciprocated. Not even once.

Still, the all-knowing females believe the boy is sweet on Younger Daughter, too. This does not explain to me why the neighbor boy invites girls other than Younger Daughter to his dances at his all boys' school -- but, then, I'm also a clueless male.

Fast forward to this morning: The kids are supposed to leave at 6:15 a.m. This has maybe happened once. This morning at 6:15 a.m. both Younger Daughter and Youngest Son were still upstairs getting dressed. The neighbor girl doesn't even bother to drop by before 6:20. What's the point?

By 6:30 or so -- 15 minutes late as usual -- they were, allegedly, off.

The phone rang at 6:45. Long Suffering Spouse answered. "What?" she said. "WHAT? WHAT?"

She handed me the phone. "She's had an accident," Long Suffering Spouse said, as if I hadn't already figured that out for myself.

On some things, I'm not totally clueless.

We covered the basics in our brief conversation: Younger Daughter claimed there was no damage to our car, nor to the rear of the car she ran into. But that impact propelled the car that Younger Daughter hit into (and underneath the bumper of) an SUV. No one was hurt. The police had not been called.

"Call the police," I said. I also got her to tell me where she was.

I refrained from the profane expostulations until I hung up the phone. If you felt a disturbance in the Force at about 6:46 a.m. CST today, that was just me screaming. After I hung up the phone.

I'm mellowing in my old age.

I finished dressing while still screaming and lit out for the street corner where Younger Daughter said she'd had her accident.

The location provided was still in the neighborhood. She hadn't yet left the neighborhood for school. In fact, she was doubling back to pick up the neighbor boy... who was moving too slowly this morning to make it to our house on even the relaxed schedule followed by the other teenagers. Younger Daughter had gone to a gas station and purchased an energy drink -- I guess so we wouldn't be yelling at her about why she hadn't gone already -- and was then planning to swing back and pick up the neighbor boy.

But she wasn't at the intersection that she told me she was at.

Oh, yes, she got the street wrong, too. But I called Youngest Son on his cell phone and asked where they were. And he told me. It was still in the neighborhood -- but on a busy arterial street at an intersection that I try and avoid whenever possible because everybody there drives like a crazy person.

Even at 6:30-ish, traffic is very heavy on that very narrow, very busy street. And the intersection she was approaching is also an expressway entrance.

There's a reason why I drove with Younger Daughter all those times figuring out the best route for her to take to school. I was figuring where she'd have the least challenging traffic. This intersection was definitely not on that route.

Have I mentioned she wasn't where she was supposed to be?

And here's the best part: Younger Daughter was right about the damage to our car: There wasn't any. Nor was there any visible damage to the rear bumper of the car she hit. But that car, remember, was pushed into and underneath the bumper of an SUV.

The driver of the SUV was a Class A jerk. He screamed profanities at my daughter and the driver of the car she hit, demanded their insurance information, and got back in his giant vehicle.

Naive young people that they are, Younger Daughter and the young man whose car she hit assumed that the SUV driver was going to come back with his own insurance information.

But, no.

No, the SUV driver appears to have backed up a bit -- unlocking the tangled bumpers, yes, and also crumpling the hood of the vehicle that was in contact with his -- and then, without so much as a backwards glance, rocketing away into the gray morning light. In its haste to depart, the SUV nearly took the other car's bumper with him... it certainly detached the bumper from its moorings. Neither Younger Daughter or the the driver of the mangled vehicle even got the SUV's license plate number.

Despite the initial misinformation, I got to the scene about the same time the police did. I had to find a legal parking space, so I walked up after the police had already started getting the necessary information from Younger Daughter and the poor man whose car may have been totaled by the SUV.

So the police were in their cruiser. I could then speak with my daughter and son. As the neighbor girl watched.

I did not yell. I did not swear. I did talk up a storm, though, and the young police officers soon thought to inquire who I might be and what my business was there.

I think I saved Younger Daughter a ticket. The responding police officers were both female and they recognized a sister in need. They tried to reassure me that it really wasn't Younger Daughter's fault, that she tried to stop with plenty of room, and it was just unfortunate that she made contact. There was, apparently, just a thin coating of 'black ice' on the street; that's why Younger Daughter couldn't stop in time. The guy in the middle shouldn't have been so close to the SUV, they said, and that was why his car was so badly damaged.


Of course, I did not contradict the officers. They have guns. And, besides, they wouldn't know that Younger Daughter wasn't driving anywhere near her assigned route to school.

I took Youngest Son in tow when the police were finished. He was already late for school and he needed to change clothes. (No, not that: However, in the event, he did manage to distribute the hot chocolate he'd been drinking fairly uniformly upon his entire person. Next time, I suggested to him, use a cover on any cup you drink from in a car.) Long Suffering Spouse was by this time late for school. And I was very much afraid I'd be late for court -- naturally today I needed to be in Waukegan by 9:15. So I had to let Younger Daughter continue on to school. On her own. Driving.

But I did twist the knife. "Enjoy the drive," I told her. "This is your last time for a long, long time."

So Long Suffering Spouse and I will have the pleasure now of driving Younger Daughter again, at least until the upcoming Christmas break. Maybe after the first of the year we can reevaluate. If we can put an ankle bracelet on Younger Daughter to monitor her position on a moment-by-moment basis.

Sure: We'll punish her by us getting up another hour earlier.

Who's really getting punished here?

And the neighbor boy? The neighbor boy that Younger Daughter was surreptitiously dropping back to pick up? He'll probably ask someone else to Prom anyway.



Shelby said...

I read this aloud to my husband. He commented that you might be a relation to his late father.

And while we're on the subject of similarities... your daughter and my daughter might possibly soul sisters. And my son could be the neighbor boy.

I have no idea who the SUV drive might be tho.

I might be tempted to camp out at that intersection tomorrow until he's spotted - then follow him.

The Beach Bum said...

Curmudgeon -

I did feel a disturbance "in the force" early this morning. I went to the bathroom and the disturbance was relieved.

Unfortunately, I am not mellowing in my old age!

Good commentary, nonetheless!

katherine. said...

I am so glad no one is hurt! As a parent I feel your "aaaaaaarrrrrgggghhh"

both my girls have had a fender bender...the boy at 17 (knock on keyboard) has not yet.

I think its a bit amusing it happened when she was not where she was suppose to be. That may work in your favor. (although the insurance premium increase will suck)

emmapeelDallas said...

This is HILARIOUS! Well, hilarious because there were no injuries, and hilarious because, mother of 4, I have "been there, done that"...but the driver of the SUV (stupid useless vehicle) was NOT hilarious...they usually aren't, I've noticed...

Jeni said...

Since you mentioned contacting the kids via the cell phone, I've a question for you. Do their cell phones also have picture taking capacity? If so, in the event of any issues similar to this in the future, remind them to use that to take a photo of the surroundings -like maybe the SUV in this instance. Could possibly have gained the license plate number in that manner I'm thinking. I read that someplace recently about using cell phones for taking pictures like that for documentation of accidents and sounds like this is one instance where it could have been quite useful.
But boy, can I relate to your feelings -been there, done that, several times with my three kids - the last time being last Christmas night when my son -age 33 at the time - was using my car and managed to total it! Lovely! NOT! Nerve-wracking, you betcha!

Kayce aka lucy said...

great commentary...and as the parent of two teenagers, i simply nodded my head throughout the reading...including the idea of an open container of hot chocolate in the car...i can hear the words "but i won't spill it!" right.

my daughter is 15 and chomping at the bit to get her permit. my 18 y.o. son just got his and i took my first ride with him yesterday. i can see why we've all waited this long. i think i'll keep the brakes on more driving after reading this! i have plenty of "nerve-wracking" without the fender benders.

Jen B said...

I do believe I felt a shift in the Force....
Your blog is great, I really enjoyed your writing! I'll be back and I hope you don't mind but I'm adding you to my blog roll....cataract...LOL
I came here from Time With Shelby, I'm glad I did...I'm still laughing but at the same time, i'm really really impressed at your calm reserve....good call!

Unknown said...

You know this is not helping me feel better about the fact my oldest will be wanting his driver's license this summer.....nope not helping at all. Let me know if you find those ankle bracelet things will you please????

Kacey said...

That rotten Shelby! She sent people over here today. You cracked me up with your misadventures of Younger Daughter and Company and now you have another reader hooked on your blog. I give --- straight from here to my blogroll!