Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are still two cups at my table.

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Lenten Challenge Update

I don't usually post an update on how the Lenten Challenge is going this early on (less than one full day into it!), but I thought today's events might be interesting and pertinent.

One of the reasons I study martial arts is to help cultivate a calm mind. I think it's far more likely that a calm mind will help me deal with the random events that pop up during the day than fighting ability.

So there I am Monday evening, on a business trip, having dinner with one of my colleagues when I notice a voicemail on my phone. I see it's my youngest (20 year old) daughter, and I'll call her back when I return to the hotel.

I get back to my room and listen to the voice mail. She's upset and crying. She's been in a car accident, and no one is hurt.

I call her immediately. She's with her mother and older sister. She's calmed down now. While going through a yellow light, a person coming the other way decided to turn left and together they proved a proposition of physics that two physical object may not occupy the same space at the same time.

The car was undrivable and had been towed away. The airbags went off and her boyfriend, who was a passenger, now has a friction burn on his face from the airbag.

I ask the older sister (24) how Mom took it. You see, the Mrs is undergoing a certain chemical transformation common to women of her age. A side effect is that she hasn't slept well for years and one of the things this all adds up to is an inability to process the unexpected easily. I was very pleased to learn that rather than bouncing off the walls, after the initial shock she took the news more or less calmly and did her best to sooth our youngest who had been really shaken up.

Your whole life can change as a result of one phone call.

There wasn't anything I could do that night, and I had my meetings in the morning, but I assigned the youngest some phone calls to make and some information to gather so I could make an insurance claim and get the proverbial wheels turning the next day to get the car back on the road.

I made the claim. The insurance company was suppsosed to pick up the car the next morning (when I would be in town) and take it to the body shop I designated. Fine.

One of the reasons it's important to have a calm, open and flexible mind is that in situations like this, the truth seems to change a little with every new person with which you have a transaction.

The towing company called to say that they wouldn't release the car until I came down there and showed them the registration and proof of insurance. Ok, fine. A slight change of plans.

We get down there to liberate the car and to check out the wreck. My daughter's boyfriend had his glasses knocked off by the airbag and in the excitement after the crash, didn't bother to look for them. Maybe they were still in the car. Nope. Not there.

The car is a 2004 Grand Am. The question would be whether they'd pay to fix it or just total it. The frond end to up in front of the front wheels was pretty mashed, but I didn't think it was that bad, all things considered.

The car gets towed to the body shop and the insurance adjuster checks it out. $9000 worth of damage, and the Blue Book for the car is $5 - 7000. They are totalling it.

Now the Mrs starts bouncing off the walls. This was one surprise to many. The daughter starts bouncing off the walls as well.

Both their reactions are human nature. The Mrs, with one additional piece of bad news to process was simply reacting. The daughter had to process the bad news as well, and in addition was mirroring her mother. We have to buy another used car for the daughter, and the Mrs doesn't want to buy a car from a stranger, because you can so easily just be buying someone else's problem (we had the Grand Am new). Replacing the car was a can of worms that really upset her.

I managed to get them both calmed down, by being calm myself. The daughter barely uses the car at all while she's at school and really doesn't need a replacement until the school year is over at the end of April. We can wait a couple of days to see what the settlement check will be.

One of my daughter's friends has 3 or 4 uncles plus a grand father who are all car brokers. Their business is finding used cars and selling them to used car lots. They see a LOT of cars every day and can quickly size up a good one from a lemon. We'll ask them to find us a replacement.

The fires are out (or at least under contol), the wheels are turning and practice tonight has never been as sweet.


Michele said...

Oh my! I am glad your daughter and her boyfriend are ok.

My husband was in a car accident last September in a 2002 Olds Alero. The insurance company gave us a $3600.00 to fix the car. It was within $500.00 of being totaled. Stressful...

We took our time and discovered all our options. We decided to trade in our car "as is" and buy a new car. The dealer offered cash back and low interest on a reasonably priced car with great gas mileage and warranty.

Rick Matz said...


We're looking at all the options including using the settlement to get a low mileage lease which could serve her through her first year out of school.

S.Smith said...

Great concern: a calm mind. And it's good to hear it works. Congratulations on nothing worse than a wrecked car.

Rick Matz said...

Thanks. It was just a hunk of metal and all's well that ends well.