Sunday, July 26, 2009

Costly rentals

In movies that grapple with the abstract concepts of fate and chance, characters often discuss how such-and-such wouldn't have happened if they'd only been following their normal routine. Or not following their normal routine.

It can be good -- "If I hadn't stopped to tie my shoe, that falling piano would have crushed me" -- or bad -- "If only I hadn't stopped to tie my shoe, I would have missed that falling piano." (This last example would probably come from a movie about the afterlife).

Well, my own personal example of "routine followed/not followed" is bad -- though not "crushed by a piano" bad. And, of course, because it's me, it also directly involves movies themselves.

I was driving home from work Friday afternoon. In the way I'd originally envisioned the day, I planned to go straight home, collect my gym stuff, and stop at the library on the way to the gym. The library was where I needed to return three movies before 6 (or else they'd trigger a $1/day overdue fine), as well as pick up The Four Feathers and two others. The plan was to get started on watching The Four Feathers at the gym. Why The Four Feathers? Well, until my latest request list gets approved, I'm out of movies that I've seen but not yet reviewed. This one was approved for me ages ago, and I knew it would be available at this branch.

Good plan, right?

Until the part where I got reeeaaaalllly tired during the day. And decided that I'd skip the gym. We planned to go for a bike ride on Saturday, then I'd play basketball as usual on Sunday. There would be plenty of exercise in my future.

But I still had to return Gran Torino, Fool's Gold and Flash of Genius (which I did not watch) by 6 p.m. to avoid the $3 fine. So I decided to alter my route home to go by the library, which left me on the 405 North for about three exits longer than usual.

It was during that stretch, of course, that I got into a car accident.

Everybody's fine. The hood of my car is a little messed up, but it too will be fine after some body work. Body work that will probably use up most if not all of my deductible. But hey, money comes and money goes, right?

It was really stupid the way it happened. Somehow, I got the position of my feet screwed up so that my right foot was no longer aligned with the brake. I don't know if it was underneath the row of pedals or what. But when I was floating along at a placid two miles per hour in stop-and-go traffic, and it came time to avoid hitting the Lexus SUV in front of me, all my foot found was floorboard. And before I could even figure out what was happening, my Golf was humping the back of the aforementioned SUV. I say "humping" because it wasn't even a single hit and then the car stalling out. No, I must have made some kind of semi-correction involving the gas pedal, though I honestly can't remember that. At any rate, the end result was two distinct thrusts into his car before the incident ended.

A tall blond Russian kid -- even taller than me -- got out of the car and was immediately reassuring me that it was okay, even clapping me lightly on the shoulder to show his good-natured response to the event. It was the first of many extremely pleasant interactions related to my first car accident in 10 years. In fact, everyone was so pleasant -- from Yaroslav and his girlfriend, to the police officer, to the woman on the phone from the insurance agency -- that I was almost not in a bad mood about it at all. The most important thing was that his car was almost completely undamaged (a little scuffing on the rear bumper), and that they did not seem a) hurt, or b) like the kind of people to make up a fake injury just to screw me.

However, it didn't take long for me to think "If I only didn't have to return those videos ..." or "If I'd only maintained enough energy to go to the gym ..."

Of course, these are the kind of "if only"s we all want to have. If you're in a car accident, and the biggest thing that happens is you need to get some superficial body work done, you've got it a lot better than people who were seriously injured or died as a result of "not following their regular routine." That "movie moment" usually doesn't work out nearly so well for the protagonist.

Yep -- not a single falling piano in sight.

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