It finally happened. I knew it was inevitable. I was warned over and over. Not that warnings from others were necessary. I had enough personal experience to garner my own factually supported opinion. The reputation of the Tennessee drivers proceeds them, and it couldn’t be more true in inclement weather. Simply stated: Tennessee drivers are scary! I was involved in my first (and hopefully last) auto collision in my newly beloved home state. I dare not describe it as an accident because any person who turns right from the center turn lane did not “accidentally” collide with another vehicle.
Allow me to set the scene. A mix of snow and rain began to fall early in the morning and the anticipated 1-2″ of snow was beginning to accumulate on the roads. School had been called. Now I realize that for most parts of the country having 1-2″ of snow is no reason to call school nor is it a reason to resort to hording milk and butter but here in Tennessee that is standard protocol. It was approximately 9:15am local time. The precipitation had stopped but roads were wet. As I made my way to work, I was following behind a gas guzzler… I mean an Expedition.
We continued down the scenic two lane road. Though it is a back road, it is well traveled and has a long line of faithful drivers. The opposing traffic lanes are separated by the center turn lane. As we passed the bridge that crosses over the river, Mr. Expedition merges into the center turn lane and slows down, presumably to turn left since he was in the center turn lane. All visitors and transplant residents should know that nine out of ten Tennessee drivers were absent for turn signal etiquette in their driver’s ed class. I, continuing at my current speed, proceeded down the traffic lane. Then suddenly, Mr. Expedition turned RIGHT across my lane of traffic into the shopping center. I hit the brakes, only to begin to slide, at which point my left front fender made contact with his right rear bumper.
Now both of us are pulling into that shopping center that he was in such a hurry to get to, and he calls the police. Little did I know that when I stepped out of the car and said to him, “Why did you do that?!?!” he had sized me up as a truth teller. He was going to have to come up with something brilliant to convince the officer that I was in the wrong. And brilliant is what he came up with … about as brilliant as a story told by a five year old with his hand stuck in the cookie jar.
Mr. Expedition’s version: He was traveling down the traffic lane. Cautiously he slowed down and turned his right turn signal on in preparation to make the turn. According to him I was speeding and tailgating and SLAMMED into his vehicle. And of course he was quick to say he had a witness: a young teen girl sitting in the front seat looking forward with her cell phone in her hand. I am sure she could give a legitimate account on what happened behind her.
The judicious officer heard our stories, took pictures of the damage, assessed the validity on all points and then said that the police report and his findings would be available in 48 hours. And here I am waiting to find out if the officer finds him at fault so I can have my car repaired.
Thankfully, no one was injured. Aside from the extra soreness in my still healing post-op shoulder, everyone is just fine. His car suffered no damage other than some paint transfer. My beautiful, dependable, cross-country traveling car did suffer some bumps and bruises but overall, she too is doing ok.
This week’s lesson on becoming a Southern girl: All drivers are not created equal. Some are bad. Some are dumb. Some are liars. Mr. Expedition is all three.