I was relaxing at the beach licking the frosty froth off the top of my root beer float. The beverage goes great with rum because they both mix well with vanilla ice cream. After blowing not just one, not just two, but three tires on the way down from Washington, DC, I deserved some R&R to take the edge off.
Was surprised that I could park for free (on weekdays). It was like being king of my own beach side resort hotel relaxing in my own private beach, not a soul except gulls.
Daybreak was the most inspirational. I would go for a long run on the beach til blisters formed in my soles, then a strenuous swim interspersed with some leisurely body surfing. Then back to my cab to check on emails and with my tummy rumbling, I just rolled next door to V Pizza where I downed a 9-inch deep dish like it was a strawberry smoothie. Happy hour rolled around early and by the time they played “Shot through the heart, and you’re to blame darling” and asked folks to finish the lyric, I was already three sheets to the wind. No worries, my cab was just an earshot away – just cross cruisy 1st street scattered with loafers in their flops and skateboarders riding tricks, and I was back in my seaside resort in my floating bed, the crashing surf rocking me mindlessly.
After three days of living like a beach bum and casually adding sites to RUNINOut, I started to feel a twinge of guilt. It was time to find a load and sure enough there was one heading from Jacksonville to Savannah which would afford me a chance to see my mother midway.
Another reason to book this load was the chance to return back to DC. I had just left the week before and wasn’t planning to coming back since I had fully turned over the EU Embassy Run to Where to Next Race, a scavenger hunt running group. But Rachel the organizer said she would be feel more comfortable if I showed up. After all this was my baby, and I wanted to nurture her and see her develop her legs and run.
So with the trailer in tow, I stopped in Darien to see Mom, and she made me a delicious meal of oxtail curry. Mom’s cooking always hit the spot, and I welcomed an opportunity to sleep on a firm bed and do my laundry. After dropping the trailer in Savannah, I started heading north on 95 wishing I had a backhaul to offset the cost of the fuel. Luckily, I found an Atlas moving trailer that had to be picked up in Fayetteville, NC to be dropped in Woodbridge, VA the next day. I knew the town well – Fayetteville was where I got my Subaru repaired with a refurbished motor a couple of years ago. This was when I blew my header in Lumberton while rushing to meet my trainer at Coastal Transportation. The timing for this move was perfect since I would be back in DC by Friday morning, enough time to go over the route with the event organizers.
So I arrived at Piedmont Van and Storage Fayetteville to pickup the moving trailer. I pulled in the yard and parked to pickup the Bill of Lading and keys to the padlocks. Then as I started to backup, I noticed a JLG boom lift with a couple of people working on the roof of the building to my left. I definitely wanted to give them a wide berth so I backed up a little bit more than I was comfortable with. I glanced at my side view mirrors and noticed a truck parked on my right left quarter, but nothing directly behind me. I turned my steering wheel hard left shifted to low reverse and stopped just in the nick of time. Then I swung out to the left and headed out to attach with the moving van trailer.
It took awhile to hook-up since I had to back in from the street. Once I got her to connect and the landing gear raised, I started doing a quick pre-trip.
Suddenly, an employee from Piedmont approached me out of nowhere. I thought he was going to offer some help or suggestions, but he didn’t look any bit friendly.
“You just hit my truck!” he yelled.
The allegation was so shocking that it sounded preposterous.
“Hit you? No way. I maintained several feet separation before I hit the brake. Plus I would have known if I backed into you – I would have definitely felt it,” I responded. “What makes you think I did that?”
“My brother on the JLG saw the whole thing. Well let me look at the cameras, and I’ll get back to you.”
After waiting over 20 minutes, I looked for the driver, I assumed he was reviewing the video from the dash cam on his truck. I did not notice any damage on his truck. And when he was nowhere in sight, I assumed that he found nothing and there was no longer an issue. Then after speaking with the receiver, Pullen Moving and Storage in Woodbridge it was time to get on the road.
Not a half hour later, I get a call from the broker.
“Did you get into an accident at the pickup?” she asked indignantly.
“The dude said I might have. But he never got back to me, and I seriously doubt I did.”
“Lemme email you the footage. Don’t look at it now, but wait till you’re parked at a safe place.”
They emailed me a copy of the video from one of the security cameras and once I stopped at Kenly 95, I reviewed it.
My face turned a shade darker than my truck. I was stunned. I went from adamantly no, to categorically yes.
Maybe I did hit his bumper after all. From the angle and distance it was inconclusive. But from the picture it looked like the bumper was pushed in a bit. Even if I made contact, it’s possible that I wouldn’t have felt a thing.
“The bumper is polished aluminum and we found one in Atlanta that can be sent to Smith International in Fayetteville. The cost of the bumper is $ 986 which does not include tax, shipping and labor,”said the manager from Piedmont. “Please let me know if you would like to pay and I will get you the complete estimated cost or I can send the information to your insurance company.”
“I don’t want to settle it under the table. Let the insurance company decide whether I was at fault. Let them be the judge, jury and executioner,” I said decisively, hoping I wouldn’t regret this move, but knowing deep down inside it could haunt me for the rest of my driving career.
“No worries,” said my insurance agent. “If Progressive Insurance determines it’s your fault, they’ll pay the full damage.”
I delivered the trailer to Woodbridge on Thursday night hoping that everything would be resolved or forgotten.
I looked at the pictures Piedmont sent me of the truck and although the bumper appeared to be pushed in a bit, there was no hard proof that I was responsible for the damage. Either way, it was very minor and easily repairable.
Did I do right by saving money and not paying this out my own pocket, or would this be something that would have major repercussions down the road?
The next week, Progressive called me. They didn’t want to fight the claim, and agreed to $1,200 in damages. My record would be docked for a preventable accident, but nothing would come out of my pocket. I hoped this would not come back to haunt me, but since this was just my only my third load, I couldn’t afford to dig myself in a hole.