All kidding aside, it was bound to happen: I was involved in a car accident this morning.
I’m fine. I was rear-ended while coming to a stop at a red light. As rear-ends go, I’ve had worse. Another blessing here to add: I had already dropped our children off at school – so they were not involved.
Now as scary as it is to drive on the local highways, it’s freaking terrifying to be standing in the middle of one while beginning the process of accident assessment immediately after a crash. Putting my car in park I exited the vehicle to check the damage and make sure the person behind me wasn’t hurt. This part now was more frightening than the accident itself: cars/trucks/buses continued to zoom around us on both sides – disturbingly close – reminding us that we are now blocking traffic as evidenced by the blaring of their horns as they passed.
I was pretty scared as to what to do next – and knew that I needed to get out of traffic and get back into my car.
Quick introduction to the young man who hit me: Fernando. Fernando was driving a filthy black four-door sedan covered in dents. I can’t tell you what make or model it was as most of the front grill was missing – as was any type of identifying emblem. The side of his front bumper was held up by what appeared to be a hillbilly rigged wire job, and it’s front end was pretty busted in (and not from my car). I would later go on to comment to Fernando about the condition of his car, and asked if he hits people often – because from the condition of his front-end it looked like it. He assured me he doesn’t – that his vehicle was a company car, given to him by his employer (he works for the government downtown – in the mayor’s office, no less).
Now you may have noticed that Fernando and I are talking – it was a huge blessing to me this morning that Fernando speaks English pretty well.
Back to the scene of the accident – on the street Fernando and I immediately asked each other if we were O.K. After confirming we both were, we agreed to pull over into a nearby gas station. Because I couldn’t see much damage to my rental car, I’ll admit at this point I really just wanted to flee. Flee to home and get away from everything that was immediately causing my fear. I was also curious whether or not the young man would also flee – as I’m sure it was really obvious to him I was a foreigner – why stick around and admit to an accident if you can get away? What was I going to do about it if he took off?
Fernando stuck around – and we met up at the agreed upon location.
Here’s the next blessing of my morning: as we pulled up to the gas station, another car pulled up behind me, and a fellow mom from school got out with her husband. They had witnessed the accident, saw it was me and were worried – so stopped to help me. Ana knows we are new to the area and that my Spanish is still pretty much non-existent. At this point in my stressful morning I can share that as I saw her walking towards me I had a hard time not crying in front of Fernando, Ana and her husband.
At this time I learned the name of the young man who hit me (Fernando) who kept apologizing profoundly – in English and Spanish – and because I honestly think he felt bad, and not because Ana’s husband is a really big guy.
I didn’t know what to do. Do I call the police to report the accident? Do I call my insurance company and report the accident? Who is the insurance company for my rental car? Am I making a big deal out of this accident because I don’t hardly see any damage to my rental car, and I seriously doubt Fernando’s company is going to care about yet another scratch to his car (actually, I think the crash straightened out his front bumper a bit…) I had already called and spoken with my hubby, and he and Ana both instructed me that in situations like this – you call your insurance company (not the police). I pulled out my rental paperwork and we all looked through it and couldn’t find a telephone number anywhere (we would later discover that my annoyingly huge key chain from AVIS had clearly listed their number… but I was a little frazzled at the time so cut me some slack). Ana looked up the company on her phone and called them for me and reported the accident. Likewise, Fernando called his insurance company and we were all instructed to simply wait for the two respective agents to come out. Ana and her husband offered to stay with me – but I told them to go ahead and leave. Ana made sure I had her telephone number and they left.
Although we were told the agents would get to us in about 30 minutes, Fernando and I proceeded to wait for over an hour. During that time, once he stopped apologizing, I can admit to yet another blessing to come out of this scary and stressful situation: Fernando is a really nice person. He’s born and raised in Tampico, he works for Social Development for the city, loves his job and loves his city. He had a wealth of information about the area, good restaurants, yummy food, places to visit. I can say I honestly enjoyed chatting with him. I worked a bit on my Spanish, he practiced English. He was interested to know what we thought of his city and country – and as a lot of conversations go, be it between foreigners or locals, the subject turned to safety. We chatted about that a bit and I admitted to him that I was surprised that he didn’t flee the accident. He smiled and said that although the city has some safety concerns (what city doesn’t?), he wanted to show that it’s not all bad people – there are good people living here, too (maybe not all hitting my car, but at this point, let’s cut him some slack, too).
After the hour went by Fernando’s insurance agent arrived; and about another 20 minutes after that, mine did too (I still couldn’t tell you the insurance company’s name). Neither spoke English so Fernando did all the talking. As I listened to them I realized that for all I knew, Fernando was lying and telling them that I had put my car into reverse and crashed into him. He could be making up all kinds of scenarios to take the blame off of himself – how was I going to dispute it? I guarantee there are no red light cameras anywhere around here to back up what had really happened (get it, get it: “back up”?). Pessimistically, at the time I was hoping that Fernando was thinking about just how big a dude Ana’s husband is – and that I could probably call upon him as a witness if I needed to – and hopefully that was keeping him honest.
But I’d rather think that Fernando is just one of the many, many good people here, just like Ana and her husband. And yes, I would have rather done without the crash to have crossed paths with these people – but there certainly is a silver lining to my morning. When we finally parted ways (2 hours later – but in this heat and humidity that actually equals more like 4 hours) Fernando gave me his email address, and invited us to contact him if he could help us with anything while we are here.
So that was my morning today – how was yours? It could have been much, much worse – believe you me. But the blessings this morning outweigh the bad things – and I can’t complain about that. Plus, I think I’m going to be a more comfortable driver for awhile – as I just KNEW an accident was bound to happen soon and I’m a little relieved now it’s over. It happened, we’re okay and should it happen again, I’ll be better prepared to handle it. Just as long as it’s Fernando again – with Ana and her hubby nearby. I wouldn’t mind chatting with them again.