Tuesday, July 03, 2007

I, (no) stupid driver

Just because I’m a woman doesn’t mean I’m a stupid driver. Last Thursday night I was driving home from Gweilos and for the first time ever, I met a car accident. I was nearly completing my turn to the gas station when... bam. Another car bumped us at the rear. The driver was probably going so fast I thought my sister, who was on the passenger’s side, almost broke her neck. The vibration was just too strong, good thing we have quite a sturdy car. He clearly didn’t see me as I was making the turn. And I also admit I didn’t notice him because his headlights were off. It wasn’t so bad. Actually, I just got a dent on the bumper and some scratches on the right tail light. What irked me was the reaction of the man driving the other car. He totally lost it! He got out of his car and shouted curses at me.

I was so shocked (it was the first time that this happened with me behind the wheel). I forgot all the things that my dad had told me to do when I encounter this situation. I wasn’t supposed to move the car from the scene even when there was already a line of stalled cars behind us and park it properly in the gas station. I was supposed to wait for an investigator to arrive and take photos or make a sketch, and I wasn’t supposed to get out of the car and listen to the man, who looked like he was in his late 20s, shouting at me and telling me how foolish I was for taking the turn too soon while he was trying to coerce the gas boys and the security guards into believing that it was my fault. The thought of my parents getting all mad and upset about the whole incident was the least of my worries. I knew they wouldn’t take it against me and that we had a comprehensive insurance. What worried me was that people might actually believe that he was right and I was wrong.

Because I moved the car from where it happened, the man accused me of trying to cover up my mistake; that I didn’t want it to be proven that I was speeding and I cut him. The whole time he was yelling and wailing at how stupid I was (babae kasi) and how hassle it was (his headlight was broken), I couldn’t focus. I couldn’t think about what to do, what to say or how to rebut because: a) I super badly needed to go to the loo for number one, and b) I needed to beat closing time since I need to get stuff from Shopwise to bring to my trip to Boracay the next day. So I just leaned on my car, my back on the left window, stared at the light post until his ramblings became ambient noise, and waited for someone to come and get the details and assess the situation. I kinda zoned out. And on impulse, I ran to the washroom. He must’ve thought I was insane standing there unaffected; not speaking to him or even looking at him and then dashing to the restroom.

I came back calm and collected even though the guy was so furious to the point of profanity. The fact that he had a big body and was really angry didn’t scare me. I just found it so low to even retaliate. I thought the security guards had already called an investigator or the police but apparently, the nearest station was under renovation and the phone lines were busted. So I asked the irate man to calm down and offered to settle. I said we should just take care of having our own cars repaired and spare us both the hassle and inconvenience (magsasarado yung Shopwise!). But he continued cursing and didn’t want to listen to me. He wanted me to give him money for the repair of his old, beaten car (!). Fortunately, my sister had the presence of mind to call my dad who was in a driving range in Filinvest, just some five minutes away from the gas station. In a few minutes, my dad arrived with a couple of his friends. I was so relieved because I knew my dad would handle it for me. He was always the peacemaker. Upon seeing my dad and his friends though, the man seemed to calm down. It’s either he was happy to be finally talking to men and not the stupid girl driver or he was intimidated by my dad and his crew.

My dad took the same line: to have the cars repaired on our own. But the man didn’t agree. At some point, my dad was already willing to pay just to end it but I didn’t allow him. Why should we pay the price of something that wasn’t even my doing? No fucking way. Money wasn’t the issue. Pride was. I needed to hold my ground. Eventually, we saw that it was useless to stay there trying to compromise when the other party was obviously not willing. So we just stopped talking, got in the car and left the man standing there. He didn’t chase us.

And I made it to Shopwise.