Disclaimer: I once wrote a series of entries about driving and traffic when I was still a noob behind the wheel. But after changing from manual to ‘matic, I’d hoped to move on to more pressing matters. I spoke too soon.
This is my second attempt to write this entry after WordPress somehow lost my entire 500-word reaction on today.
Sasha Lim Uy. No vehicular accidents since 2011. Since resigning from the Makati-based broadsheet I used to work in, I’ve stopped driving regularly. I didn’t mind. Truth is, and I’ll only admit it once. I’M A TERRIBLE DRIVER. Or, rather, I’m a terrible parker. Out of about seven accidents, six are parking-related and two of which were bike-related (one motorcycle–to my defense, it was dark and stationed in the wrong parking slot–and one bicycle). Other than that, I’m pretty standard, considering I started driving solo three months after Jason taught me (aww, so sweet. ❤ you).
As the only "real" driver in my family (everyone else has a license, but I'm the only one who can actually maneuver through a road full of other cars), I was tasked to have the car's oil changed. I asked Jason to accompany me because I had no idea how it went, not that he knew much about auto mechanics, but I preferred to have his company. We planned it the night before: Mass, car, movie. Unfortunately Jason had to do an all-nighter to finish his company prospectus. He texted me at about 2 a.m. saying we should 86 church since he won't be able to wake up on time. It was 8:30 a.m. when I saw his message, but in an attempt to gain initiative, independence, and later stupidity, I decided to go to the service station alone.
Name, contact details, car model, preferred brand, and I was set. There was even a sale in oil, which I thought was very lucky. There were two other customers before me so I settled myself inside the air-conditioned customer’s lounge, reading The Catcher in the Rye, pretty much oblivious to the man and the brother and sister also waiting a few chairs away. They stood up one by one, and soon enough, one of the mechanics entered the room to ask for my keys.
I stood on the sidewalk as the mechanic maneuvered my car to the servicing area. As he moved forward, the Nissan driven by the pair of siblings gingerly reversed to exit. The brother, however, got out after about a meter and stepped onto the narrow space between the cars, making pointed gestures at the sides. The mechanic got out as well and the two began talking. As I peered through the car’s tinted windows trying to decipher the commotion, the brother was suddenly at my side. “Sorry, nabangga eh.”
Having been usually on the guilty end of a car collision, I wasn’t exactly sure what to so. And the culprit, who I learned has been driving for only three months, was just as clueless. So, I did what any ignorant girl in a harrowed situation would do: I called my mother. She couldn’t really do much, actually, since she was in Cebu, but she was adamant that the driver just pay up to save us the hassle of going through the insurance company.
The brother, whom we shall call M, agreed. Unfortunately, we didn’t know how much the repairs would cost and neither did the boys at Shell. The gash was long, extending to three panels, with another ugly scar on the gray underside. I couldn’t fashion a guess because I didn’t want any of us to be cheated. I texted everyone I thought would know a thing or two about car detailing but none of them could give an exact quote without seeing the damage. (Niko replied a few hours later with a very specific rate, but we’d settled the matter by then.)
After five calls from my mother and a lot of texts from M’s, we decided to drive around Katipunan looking for auto detailing shops while my car was being fixed. We found one I few streets away near both our houses. I showed the man a photo and he replied with a curt “P4,500.” My eyes widened; it was a much bigger amount than I expected. Thank goodness I didn’t make any price suggestions.
M, his sister H, and I drove back to Shell to wait for my car. We hung out at the customer lounge again and M courteously bought us some snacks. “Stress eating,” he described it. Mostly from our mothers, really. I found out he was a batch lower than me in Ateneo and we had several common friends–a matter which served as the starting point for our conversation. Eventually we mapped out a plan: take the car to the shop, fix her up, then M will finance the repair.
A few minutes later, M’s mother arrived. He warned me beforehand that she might be a bit abrupt, but I still stood up and greeted her a “Good morning!” when she entered the room. She ignored me and looked straight at her children, but before she could say anything, M informed her that everything was settled and that he himself will settle for the bill. With that, she left. And here I thought my mother was formidable in such situations.
Then, my knight in a blue cotton shirt arrived! Finally! I’m usually either crying or laughing away the awkwardness in such circumstances while Jason deals with the grown-up stuff. He never panics, it’s almost weird. He said we should just take the P4.5k and bring the car to the shop some other day. I disapproved of his plan at first because I wanted to get things over with. When we dropped by Elite Auto Detailing Shop, however, this time with the car, our new friend Ronald told us it would take up to two or three days. My mother needed to be picked up from the airport the next day so it would have to wait until after that.
I took M’s contact details and address and he promised to deposit the money tomorrow. (You better, M! I know where you live! Haha!) I know I’ll breathe freely once I see the money in my account, but right now I’m just glad that it’s over.
Argo, Ben Affleck’s gripping edge-of-your-seat tale, was the perfect cap to a stressful day.
My balat sa pwet is so hugely effective, I didn’t even have to be in the car for something to happen. It’s the type of misadventure you laugh at in hindsight. So until I see the deposit, I say, “HA HA HA!”