Maybe this is a sign...

Friday didn't start out being a bad day. The morning traffic into the office was light and I was able to accomplish a ton of stuff at work. So, when the option of leaving the office a little early was brought to my attention, I really felt like I had earned an early reprieve. All I had to do is stop off in Farmington for a quick meeting at 1:30 and then I was off to start my three-day weekend.

The drive from my office in Southington to the office in Farmington is a straight shot on I-84. It's about nine miles there, and then another seven miles from the Farmington office to home. I left Southington at 1:00 and made it to Farmington at about 1:15. The meeting ran until 3:00pm and I figured that I could be home by 3:30, all goes well.

I came out of the office driveway and headed towards the I-84 on ramp. One traffic light, a quick left turn and boom, I would be on the highway.

Well, the boom was right.

As I turned onto the on-ramp, I started to accelerate to highway speed. The Finneman Road on ramp is deceptive, because you start building up speed on a straightaway, but then there is a tight-radius turn to the right to actually get on the highway. It had just started drizzling a few minutes before I got into the car.

When I started to approach the turn, I noticed how sharp it was... so I took my foot off of the gas pedal in order to slow down. By the time I had to start turning the wheel for the turn, I felt like I needed to slow down even more, so I gently eased onto the brake and started the turn.

It was at that exact moment that the car decided to misbehave for the first time. The back of the car started to spin out. Damn that centrifugal force! I was heading towards the embankment.


That boom was the sound of my 10-day-old car hitting a yellow and black right hand turn warning signs as I headed into a small, grassy ditch at the side of the on ramp. I checked myself... I was fine. I checked the situation... I was out of the line of traffic. I grabbed the cellphone and took a look at the car.

All the wheels seemed inflated, and there was nothing pressing into the tire wells, so I figured that the car was probably still driveable. Then I assessed the damage. The sign had slammed into the passenger side door, about 5 inches from my head, broke off and smacked the hood. The door was totalled and there was a nasty dent in the hood. Someone came by and asked if I was OK. I said that I was fine and that I thought the car was driveable.

I immediately got back into the car and turned the engine on. It turned over and the CD that was in the player came on. At least the car seemed to be in order. Then I called *SP for the state police to see if there was anything I needed to do. The officer asked if anyone was hurt, to which I responded that I had knocked over a sign. He asked for the location of the accident and told me to call the non-emergency number once I got home.

Then I called GEICO. After ten minutes of waiting on hold, they took my information and told me to go home and call from there. I put down the phone, took a deep breath, put the car in reverse to get out of the holes the wheels made in the dirt, turned the steering wheel to the left and threw it into 1st gear. I was back on the road and heading onto the highway.

By the time I got home, it was near 4pm. I called Janet to tell her that I was in an accident and that I was fine. Then I called the state police, where a sympathetic Officer Foley told me to come to the Hartford Barracks to file a report. Another call to GEICO to file the formal claim and get an appointment with the claims assessor and I was done with the critical worries. It was now time to take a look at the damage again.

The rear door was crushed. It still opened and shut, but it would have to be replaced. The bottom rocker panel was shot, and there would be some dents that would need to be pulled out. The car only had 400 miles on it and now it looked like it had gone through hell. I spent the next half-hour sitting on the porch trying to compose myself.

Janet made it home around 5pm and then we were off to meet with Officer Foley. We got in, waited in the waiting area for a few minutes, and an officer came out to talk to us. He presented me with two options:

  1. He could issue me a ticket, start a formal investigation and charge me for the damaged sign
  2. Since nobody was hurt, I could leave and the DOT would fix the sign

The officer explained that people take those signs out all of the time. I asked him if there would be anything wrong with taking option #2, and he told me that there is no problem. We left, figuring that we have just saved him an hour's worth of paperwork.

We meet with the adjustor on Saturday, and he estimated that we did about $2500 worth of damage to the car. When I explained what had happened, he told me that what probably happened is that the drizzling rain made the seeped-in oils on the highway leech out, making it like black ice. It was a freak convergence of a number of factors that caused the accident. I left feeling a little better, but still nervous to be in the car.

It's now Sunday afternoon. I'm still kicking myself in the ass for getting into the accident, but I'm happy that nobody was hurt and that the damage was relatively minimal. Still, my perfect little virginal car has been deflowered... and it will never be the same again.

At least I don't have to worry about the first scratch anymore.