A lesson learned about friends, cars and insurance for both
To the Editors:
Life is unfair, my dad used to say. Actually, he would say, Life
is a bitch, and then you die, but I felt like it was the same message. However, only lately
have I embraced this concept wholeheartedly, during a recent episode involving a friend, my car
and $8,000 in damages. Mind you, I was miles away at the time he drove my car into someone else,
and the meridian, respectively, but in subsequent weeks Ive found out that it doesnt
At first, I was relieved. Relieved that no one was hurt, and that for once, I couldnt be
held responsible. My driving record isnt free of its fender-benders, but as far as my insurance
company knows, I am a picture-perfect driver. You can imagine my chagrin when I was informed that
it was worse that I hadnt been driving, and that since he wasnt a policyholder on my
insurance, I was 100 percent responsible for all the damages.
Thats right-my name (and my parents names, which you can be sure made them really happy)
is the name on the car, and the car is responsible for the damages. It follows, therefore, that
he gets off scott-free while Im stuck with a future of high-risk insurance, possible medical
bills and no car. Like my dad said, life isnt fair.
So what to do when you take it in the out-hole from someone you thought you trusted?
Forgive my rhetorical question, but its actually very real. Take them in front of Judge Judy
and have an all-American slap-fest? Drag them down the street in their underwear chanting? Because
the real crux is, despite a Park Avenue upbringing, and a family that pays his way at Oberlin,
the boy cant come up with my money! One day older and what do you get, another day
older and deeper in debt. Sorry, boy, but that wont do, you now owe your soul to (my)
I wish. This is where life gets really unfair: he doesnt owe me the trash he floated in on.
Washing his hands of the situation right now would be within the law, and me taking him out back
for an old-school lesson in whoop-ass would not be considered a lawful response. So here I am,
holding on for dear life to the ideas of a moral, personally responsible society
this the same country where a man sued in court for damages when a sperm bank burned down containing
his precious soldiers? Where a burglar sued a family for impaling himself on a knife when he fell
through their skylight, and won? The justice system seems like an ironic name at this point to
me, and the only place I have to turn is my gang of goons. How do I take the high road without
making myself flat broke?
Theres the chance hell pay. I cling to that, with every fiber in my being, because
its my only hope. But thats not very consoling. This world is full of lies
and cheats, and bad things happen to good people (another truism my dad likes to use just when
it was really what I needed to hear [sarcasm? Of course not!]). Theres always blackmail,
a more persuasive option, but when youre a softie like me (who doesnt believe in carrying
sticks, because it implies someone is going to get hit by a big-ass stick) threats seem like bluffs
until Ive been called on them, and then the whole blackmail power dynamic is already gone,
anyway, so what was the point? So, yeah, I tried blackmail, but even when I have it in spades,
this ever-endearing friend counters my statements with his own threats. Another dead-end.
At this point it seems questionable as to why a person would ever lend something as expensive (and
heavy) as a car to someone with so few moral sensibilities. I should admit, hes an old boyfriend.
Which gave him some added privileges that have quickly transformed into additional wishes for vengeance.
And despite my powerlessness in the eyes of the law, I am intent on exacting the aforementioned
pain, if I dont see my money, that is.
So what have we all learned from this? I learned that lending your car out, to anyone, at 19, is
a very bad idea. Ive also learned that my self-important morals dont get me very far
in this world, and that I can just as easily turn into a vicious vindictive snarling beast, when
my back is to the wall. Maybe the lesson is that, no matter how different I may think I am from
this kid, Ive proven myself equally low through my actions. Or maybe the lesson is, insurance
companies are evil. Either way, its been a learning experience I wouldnt wish on anyone,
so last words of advice: keep your friends close, your enemies closer, and your possessions under