Baby’s first fender bender

Previously, on Samantha’s Adventures in Car Owning, I learned that getting your car towed is a really expensive, exhausting, terrible experience. In the latest episode of this ongoing series, I learned that getting into a car accident is an even more expensive, exhausting, terrible experience. I will preface this story by saying that everyone involved in said accident is totally okay. That’s something I failed to do when I called my mom, bawling, from the accident scene, and it caused more panic than was probably necessary.

Ahem. On with the story, then.

Truly minor damage, but it still sent me into a tailspin.
Truly minor damage, but it still sent me into a tailspin.

On the last day of January (fun fact: my best friend of over a decade was born on this day; so was Justin Timberlake!), I rear-ended someone while driving home from doing some errands with a friend. I won’t go into details, because ultimately they aren’t that important, but Hazza (my car) suffered minor damages. Being that this was my first car accident while driving and I’m a bit of a drama queen sometimes, I cried a lot at the scene. I cried a lot when we got home. I cried a lot when I talked to my claims representative and I cried a lot when I showed my parents the damage. I’m really, deeply, emotionally attached to my car, and I’m also constantly stressed about money. These factors combined made the whole incident a pretty rough one.

Apparently, the damage inflicted upon poor Hazza wasn’t anything worth crying over. I drove back to New Hampshire a couple days after the accident (which happened in Rhode Island) and it was dark out when I arrived at my parents’ house, so I showed them pictures of the damage on my phone. To my absolute horror and awe, my mother seemed completely unmoved and my stepfather actually laughed. He then proceeded to go outside with a flashlight and look at the car, still laughing; this time, my mom laughed, too.


Then my stepdad showed me photographs of his first car accident. He featured prominently in several of the photos, a massive bandage wrapped around his head. Also featured prominently in the photos was a tree. The tree was inside the hood of the car parked next to my stepdad. The entire front of the car was crushed and the windshield was shattered. Seeing these pictures made me realize that my accident — a fender bender, by every definition of the term — wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought. I drove my car away from the scene. I drove my car from Rhode Island to New Hampshire and continued to drive it to and from work (a 36-mile commute) for several weeks following, while I saved up the money to pay the deductible for my insurance. No one was hurt.

In the grand scheme of things, my first accident was nothing to write home about. I probably could have saved most of the tears.

For the last week, I’ve been without my car as he’s been getting fixed at a body shop that came highly recommended by several of my co-workers. In the interim, I’ve been driving a rental car that quite literally made me feel like I was in the Batmobile every time I got in it. I made a post on Instagram about the weird incognito feelings it inspired. Not only was the rental larger than Hazza, it was entirely automatic. It had Push to Start, an automatic transmission, automatic seat and rearview window adjustments, automatic windows, automatic locks and a fancy alarm remote. Even the trunk had automatic open. I’ve grown so used to having manual everything — even windows and locks — that driving something so fancy felt incredibly bizarre. I kept trying to put my foot on a clutch that didn’t exist and I kept forgetting that I didn’t have a proper key for the car, just a remote. It was very disorienting, to say the least.

I picked Hazza up today, and he’s as good as new. The repair bill made me sick to my stomach, but I’m very, very lucky to have really good insurance. My claims rep and everyone else involved in the process was incredibly kind and put up with answering all of my stupid, repetitive questions. I’ve learned a lot through this whole experience, most especially the value of having an excellent support system. Cars are expensive, but people and experiences are priceless (or something cheesy like that).

Also, when it’s all said and done, there’s incredible value in climbing into a familiar vehicle at the end of a long, stressful day. It’s kind of like a security blanket that just so happens to be motorized.

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