So I’m drivin’ south in four lanes of stop-‘n-stutter, still dark, rush hour traffic, first in line behind a McDonald’s semi that has a signal on screamin’, “I’m about t’ turn right!” Because of the stop-‘n-stutter I’m keepin’ an assured clear distance of an extra car length or so. And suddenly we see why that’s a good idea…
A white pick-‘em-up truck with a bed cab flies by me on the left, slings itself right so hard it picks up a rear wheel, slings itself back left and slams on the brakes… because the semi has stopped at the light. I’ve already chattered to a stop on my ABS (little red Sonic stops dam’ quick), and the pick-‘em-up just keeps from hitting the semi square in the rear bumper.
Light changes and the semi begins to move. We’re about a three-shot from the curb, and the pick-‘em-up decides to jump into the right-hand-most of the two turning lanes, but it’s blocked solid with vehicles, all of whose drivers apparently spend lots of good drinkin’ money on maintaining their horns, as we find out as soon as he tries to move into that line. Pick-‘em-up abruptly breaks left, slides across in front of me (I want no part of this idiot) and makes it into the line of traffic to my left by the simple expedient of acting as if there were no car in the space he intends to occupy. Soon enough, he is correct.
Meanwhile, the semi continues to move, and the pick-‘em-up stakes out a position half in my lane and half in the lane to the left. The light goes red again, and the semi stops. So do we all. When the light changes back to green, pick-‘em-up jumps left and races to the front of the semi, which has yet to move, yanks the wheel right, and rubs two-thirds of the length of itself against the bumper of the semi hard enough to force the rear wheels to lose traction and jump left when they encounter the bumper. Then the pick-‘em up speeds away.
I have people meeting me to perform a process self assessment (a sort of an audit), but when the pick-‘em-up moves, I realize the car next to me isn’t moving so I jump ahead of it, and I’m right behind the pick-‘em-up as it takes off. I go after it, chase it about three blocks down the I-696 access road until it’s stopped by traffic in all lanes of the access road at another light. I pull up close to his driver’s side rear wheel and copy down the license number. The pick-‘em-up driver’s side window opens and a face peers back at me. I wave as I pull a Michigan Left and head back to the trucker.
Rush hour is now in full cry, and I can’t park very close to the truck. I’m wearing coveralls over my clothes because they’re spark-protective (I’ll be working in a large substation full of transformers and switches), and I drop my keys between the pants and the coverall, missing the pocket in each. They hang in there for a while.Then… they don’t.
I walk down the block to the truck, hand him my business card with the tag number on it. He’s amazingly grateful, more-so than I think makes sense (I know I’m missing something that I should remember, but it won’t come), but I offer to testify if necessary and head for my car. When I get there… no keys! I head back for the truck. Maybe I dropped them on the seat. As I approach, the truck and a cop pull around the corner. Oh boy, if my keys are on his seat…
As I get to the corner, I realize that the cop has simply moved him out of rush hour. I search the grass and concrete around the truck’s previous location without luck. So I head for the truck. We search the seat and floor, also without luck. In fact, my luck has flat run out. The cop now tells me the plate number I gave him is good, and he wants me to stay and write a description of the accident, but first he sends me to find my keys because if somebody picks them up, the cost to replace a modern electronic key is astronomical. I jog back to the original position of the truck and search frantically. Then I turn and head down the sidewalk toward the car… and damned near step on them (if I had… you got it – astronomical).
I call the guys and tell them to wait another twenty minutes, jog back to the cop (all this jogging has to be good for me, right?), who hands me the report form and starts to turn to something else. Then he stops and asks, “And if that crazy driver’d had a gun?”
My expertise at witty come-backs, bon mots and repartee’ come forward. I tell the cop, “Um-m-m-m…” Then I write up an accident description and draw a really poor picture of it, and I’m good to g… What? Write it again for McDonald’s? Why? And that’s when I remember what was probably the reason he was so grateful.
It used to be, and I’m guessing it still is, that drivers for companies like McDonald’s, Chrysler, Home Depot, etc. were, and are contract players. They don’t own the tractors… they just drive them. Big companies self-insure, and the drivers can be, and often are, charged some percentage of the cost of repairing damage if they have no one or no evidence to back their story. This guy had lucked out beyond his best ever hopes. I was happy to rewrite the accident description for him.