Monday, March 20, 2006

Let's Be Careful Out There

Lesson of the week? It's a dangerous world out there where it is very easy to get hit at unexpected times. Thank God for bumpers.

So I let myself get distracted. The first season of Hill Street Blues was recently released on DVD. It's my all time favorite TV show that doesn't have "Buffy" in its title. I've quite enjoyed seeing the first 13 episodes again albeit for about the fiftieth time.

The show seems a little bit dated now- its multiple interlocking storylines that back then were ground breaking now are a pretty standard part of a lot of shows from Six Feet Under to 24 and a lot of shows in between. But what made Hill Street so innovative and brilliant was it was often a show more about mood than storytelling. The writers knew that life isn't naturally organized into neatly recognizable beginnings, middles, and ends. Rather life is often about random events that come out of nowhere that have no inherent meaning other than those which we desperately try to peg on them.

Hill Street was a show about chaos and confusion in a police precinct. At its moral center was the police captain, Sir Francis Furillo who with quiet fortitude tried to hold together a crumbling universe that included eccentric cops and criminals, screaming ex-wives, and one fabulous babe public defender.

It was following Frank's calm but world weary approach to life that came in handy for me this week. It was the day after the first snowstorm where the streets were bumpy with isolated patches of ice. I was on my way to work when I found myself behind a big black Jeep that kept hitting its brakes. So I went around it preferring a safer ride comprised of a slower pace and more space between me and the car in front of me.

A couple of miles down the road I came to a stop at a stoplight. I happened to glance in my rear view mirror and saw the Jeep approaching me at a speed that given the road conditions I knew couldn't possibly stop in time. Sure enough as I braced myself for the impact the Jeep smacked hard into the back of my poor little Honda Civic.

I was more than a little pissed that the driver wasn't taking the weather and road conditions more into proper account. I got out of my car and discovered that the driver was a nice smelling young woman who opened her door and apologized and mumbled something about trying to stop but couldn't avoid sliding into me. I asked her for her insurance information and she asked if my car was actually damaged. I pointed out that my bumper was hanging at an unnatural angle. She reached into her glove compartment and handed me a sheet of paper. I wrote down the information. I thought I had handled the incident/accident quite calmly and as we were parting ways the driver (Jazmin) said, "I hope you have a better rest of the day." I didn't know how to respond to that other than to say, "Mercy. You too."

Now my back, neck, and shoulder are stiff and sore and the appraiser Jazmin's insurance company sent out to look at my car told me my car is likely totaled.

The news was sad not that I'm usually one to name my car and have an emotional attachment to all the places it's taken me. Even though it's the first car I've bought all on my own and even though we've traveled over 100,000 miles together, this car never meant as much to me as my last Honda. That one drove Stephanie Jane (who inspired a novel), Alex, and Anita and was hard to scrap and let go. This one has ridden Cindy, Jennie, Michelle, Tara, and Amy and many friends both here and there.

I think I was in a state of shock long after the accident occurred. I came home and listened to a new CD, Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins' Rabbit Fur Coat and was surprised by a wonderful cover of the Traveling Wilbury's "Handle with Care." The cover lacks Roy Orbison's operatic voice wail out "I'm so tired of being lonely/I still have so me love to give/Won't you show me that you really care?" And Lewis removes the "fobbed" off word in favor of another "F" word but God I was glad to hear the song again. Because I am tired of being beat up and battered around.

It was a bit depressing having to attach the detached bumper of my mangled car on with a piece of rope. It's a bit depressing trying to figure out my finances and trying to figure out what I can afford to buy. Should I get something fun like my favorite looking car, the Mini-Cooper? Or should I go for the gas mileage and dependability of another Honda? It seems overwhelming to even think about. The accident night I huddled myself under my blankets and listened extra closely to Sergeant Phil Esterhaus say his famous line to the Hill Street cops, "Let's be careful out there."

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