Tuesday, October 7, 2008

if there is a God, I'd very much like to punch Him in the face

It's not enough that I've had a chronic pain condition going on four years, is it?
Nah, of course not.

Is it enough that I lost my dream job on my birthday so I could overload myself with classes to teach, so much so that I had to give one up and have fallen so far behind in my grading that the administration has started calling me to find out why I'm being such a terrible instructor?
Or that my pain has been escalating beyond the new medications to land me in the ER twice in two weeks?

Or that a dear friend of mine died unexpectedly while I was doing nothing less petty than shopping the day before the start of one of the most stressful weeks of my life? That I can't even remember the last time I paid my bills? That I'm accruing parking tickets for the luxury of taking BART to work? That I've been getting a collective average of 3 on-and-off hours of sleep per night and have to remind myself that eating is part of staying alive? That I get paid for maybe a third of the work I actually do? 

Is it funny that my aforementioned dream job has contacted me to work again now that I don't have enough hours in the day for a modicum of stillness or creativity? 

I suppose I'm just being whiny, all because--after spending hours trying to complete my official progress grades, I finally decided to take a short break to read a few paragraphs of Heidegger in an attempt to further research for a doctoral dissertation due in a matter of months--a police officer strolled up my front path and asked, very cheerfully, how I was doing this evening. 

• Busy, I say, just taking a break from work.
• Oh, then do mind talking about the collision?
• Collision? I ask, utterly befuddled.
• Yes, he insists. You hit that car across the street.

This is true. A car parked at the lip of my driveway, and so, upon backing out to go get my first meal of the day, dinner with a newly dear friend, I bumped into the back of my neighbor's minivan. And a "bump" is what it was. We looked--no damage. Good, no damage. I glanced up at her house, saw no activity, inspected her car again, and drove on to get dinner and stop by the pharmacy in hopes my doctor finally allowed a prescription to alleviate some of my pain.

So I'm staring at this policeman in the dark, and I explain, with genuine surprise, Oh! I just bumped into it while I was backing out, and I stopped and inspected it and there wasn't any damage.

• No damage? he mimics me with prototypical PD condescension. 
• Yes, I repeat, I didn't see any damage and I just bumped into her car so I thought it was fine.
• It's not up to you to decide of there's damage or not. Failing to notify the owner of an accident is a hit-and-run and can send you to jail.

This mother fucker is talking about jail for a bumper-to-bumper BUMP, but I'm thinking, what the mother fuck why now why now what the fuck is GOING ON IN MY LIFE?!?

• You inspected that car and didn't see any damage? he repeats.
• Yes!
• Your whole tail light is broken and imbedded in her back tire.
• What?
• I need your license, registration, and proof of insurance.

I'm so honestly and earnestly shocked, I went inside and got my license and went to my car and got my paperwork and inspected my own car and still had no idea what he was talking about, then went out to the minivan. My insurance card expired 3 days ago, but the new one is inside somewhere under my piles of cluttered insanity. He points out the "damage" to me: bits of red plastic that are indeed broken around the base of the minivan's tire. I see no "imbedding." I see no body damage, but just for emphasis, he says, You don't call this damage?

• I didn't see where it was broken on my car, I say.
• I'd be happy to go over and point it out to you, he offers, and points his flashlight down to display a quarter-inch piece of red plastic that has settled between the hubcap and rim of the tire. 

I want to start screaming in his face; YOU CALL THIS DAMAGE? but cops tend to react disagreeably with any signals of belligerence, so I ooohh and aahhh at the horrendous mess I've made of my neighbor's vehicle. He orders me inside to get the new insurance card, which I locate only after a very literal tearing apart of my living room. 

By the time I come back outside, my neighbor has descended on the scene. She and I have spoken a number of times, mostly about the theft that occurs on our block. She says, yeah--there isn't any damage or anything, I'm just scared of pulling this piece of glass out of my tire. I want to mention that it's plastic, not glass, and that it's beside, not in, her tire, but again, I keep my mouth shut. I apologize profusely, and I am genuinely sorry; if I'd known there WAS any damage, I would have contacted her immediately instead of fleeing the scene like a dirty criminal streaking innards of small children behind me on the pavement. 

The cop seems sufficiently pleased with his display of dominance, or he's just plain bored, because he proceeds to explain the banalities of a collision report. He returns my paperwork and leaves. 

This is an absurdly long and overly-detailed rendition of this occurrence, but the pure and unrelenting ire it spurned in me at that moment I cannot begin to convey. Every step of every day for the past week alone has been an affront of kismet, a brutally blatant slap-in-the-face, and if I get one more I won't be able to recognize myself. 

I was overwhelmed by a sense of betrayal, a profoundly neurotic overreaction to a mere, stressful slight that knocked me over the precipice of rational behavior into an abysmal emotional collapse with all the trimmings: uncontrollable tears, shortness of breath, the need to blurt my misfortune to anyone who would listen, and a compulsive urge to leap from a ten-story window. 

Unfortunately, all the houses on my block are single-story craftsman bungalows, so I'm writing a fucking blog about it instead. How apt.

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