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John Winters Columnist

Published Sunday, March 10, 2013

It's just stuff

Sometimes you have to let things go.

It can be painful, but there can also be a release of sorts. Too often we hold on to whatever, even when we know it’s time to move on.

Sometimes we get to make that call; sometimes it is thrust upon us. The former, in my opinion, is preferred, but no one said life is fair.

I totaled our BMW.

Change that. I was involved in what I thought was a somewhat minor fender bender. The insurance company totaled my car. My BMW was worth next to nothing - to them.

Worth is in the eye of the beholder, isn’t it?

The fact the Beemer was 20 years old didn’t help my case. But we loved that car. We bought it in Alaska. We drove it on the Alaska highway, which is one of the greatest driving experiences in the world.

Think German Autobahn followed by two-hour waits for a pilot car to thread you through last winter’s frost heave that tore up miles of highway. Imagine winding your way through earth-moving trucks so large the driver sits four stories up in the cab. Imagine seeing a beautiful mountain in the distance, and seeing the same damn mountain for the next three hours. You may not see another car for hours.

There is an inch-thick book called the Alaskan Milepost, the bible for motorists. It tells you how many miles to the next gas station, which can be 200 miles. It is not unusual for people to carry extra gas tanks.

I taught the Little Black Dress how to drive a standard in that car. “Put ... In ... The ... Clutch ... Put ... In ... The ... Clutch ... I would stammer more than once as the car cried out for mercy.

But back to The Incident.

I was on Herring Road and came up to the intersection with U.S. 29 across from Wesley Woods. A car was in front of me and I stopped behind it. I looked to the left and saw a car just cresting the hill and decided I had time to make it before it arrived. And so I started forward. Unfortunately, the car in front of me waited. And so I plowed right into its fender.

And, of course, because life isn’t fair, there was a small dent on the other car’s back bumper. I apparently hit in “just the worst spot” and my left front end pretty much crumpled.

The other driver, in a dark car with tinted windows, got out and all of a sudden some blue lights went on in its back window. And then I noticed the county license plate. We shook hands, made sure everyone was okay - I had two of the SONs of Thunder with me - and surveyed the damage.

“You with the sheriff’s office?” I asked. That would be a yes. Covering public safety for the newspaper, I knew most of the investigators, but met this one that day. And so we began to do the whole “do you know so and so” routine. And, of course, he was off to meet with another investigator whom I had interviewed for a story the day before.

Being a sheriff’s office vehicle, we had to call in the Georgia State Patrol. A few minutes later the trooper showed up.

“John, what have you done?” were the first words out of his mouth. Yeah, knew him, too.

About that time I called The Dress. I believe the conversation went something like this:

“Um, I was in a small wreck.” “How’s the BMW?” “I’m fine.” “Did you total it?” “Um, I’m fine.” “Are the SONs hurt?” “They’re fine.” “It’s totaled, isn’t it?” “I’m fine.” “Not for long.”

This was going well.

Fast forward to The Call with the insurance company rep, who was quite polite but did not say a single thing I wanted to hear. I was told the damage was about a thousand dollars more than they valued the car. Ta da.

And so the car search began. Sometimes, in the midst of disaster, you can still find some good. And we did. The new car, not new, but newer, is way more comfortable, drives like a dream, has better gas mileage and, to kick it off, the insurance is less than on the 20-year-old BMW. Go figure. And The Dress loves it, which we all know is the only thing that really matters.

The ribbing still continues. For some reason about half the sheriff’s office and police department folks drove by my wreck that day. And they let me know it, too.

In fact, I was at the jail the other day, checking the arrest logs, and the sheriff walked by.

We shared our good mornings and then he stopped, turned to me and said, “you know John, we like to keep our cars on the road to protect the citizens.”

Great. I might as well write a column about it and let everyone know.


John A. Winters is a staff writer for The Newnan Times-Herald. Follow the adventures at justflipthedog.com . You can reach him at john@newnan.com .

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