May 7, 2019

Sometimes, you must take the waste-of-time route

            The answer was obvious before I ever started, but I had to take the waste-of-time route.
            In late January, I was scheduled to work in North Carolina. In the winter, mountain weather can be temperamental. I checked the reports. Sure enough, snow and ice were predicted. I reversed field with my plans, driving south rather than north.
            Smart thinking, I thought.
            Well, it was. Until, I got atop the I-20 bridge outside Thomson. Midway, across the overpass of the Atlanta-to-Augusta interstate, I was assaulted.
            Well, my truck was assaulted.
            A Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) truck was slinging salt and what seemed to be gravel on the bridge. The yellow truck was going north. I was going south.
            Pow! Pow! Ping! Pow! Pow!
            We’ve all seen the signs warning us that bridges ice before roads, so the highway folks were trying to make the I-20 bridge safe for travel. As a frequent traveler, I am grateful for Georgia’s good, safe roads.
            One of the “pows” was about ear-level on the driver’s-side window. I flinched but kept driving. Stopping at a traffic light on the Swainsboro bypass, I noticed a hairline crack in the window. When I got to Jesup, I noticed dings in the driver’s-side door. By that time, the window crack was crawling across the glass.
            The door-panel dings were one thing, but I knew the window had to be replaced—pronto. What if it fell out while I was driving? Or what if it came apart while I was going through the car wash? The thought of getting a face full of soapy water did make me laugh, but I got busy.
After I compared two estimates, the verdict came to $721.72. And that didn’t include the body damage.
Since I didn’t think the mishap was my fault, maybe I could file a claim. I knew the probable answer, but $721.72 is $721.72.
I emailed my information, with photographs.
A nice person responded: “Please send better photos.”
I did.
My claim was passed to another person.
That nice person asked for more information.
I sent it and waited and waited.
A form letter arrived, with blah, blah, blah, including: “Finally, the impending weather conditions were broadcast on television to the public, with warnings not to pass the spreader trucks.”
“This is horse pooh,” I told myself. “I was trapped in the middle of a bridge. What was I supposed to do?”
I called the nice person and further elaborated how I could not avoid the truck. After she went blah, blah, blah, I asked for her supervisor. A week later, I talked to the nice person’s boss. He was polite, too, but insistent that the state was immune from any damages the GDOT truck caused to my vehicle. He was not a state employee. He was a third-party administrator contracted to handle such matters.
Because I have dealt with my share of jerks, I was determined to not be one myself. In a friendly, non-profane way, I said that I thought this bureaucratic blah, blah, blah was a pile of horse pooh. I thanked him and hung up.
I knew better.
But sometimes, you just have to take the waste-of-time route to feel better.
After all, $721.72 is $721.72.