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Published: Friday, 7/25/2008

My hit-skip saga on Sylvania Ave. (Part 1)

Seniors are often blamed by the younger generations for being overly cautious behind the wheel slow drivers and slow to react.

Well, here s one time that adrenaline got my this retiree's wheels moving very quickly.

It was late afternoon in a driving rainstorm a couple of Tuesdays ago that I and my almost new 2007 car were stopped at a red light on Sylvania Avenue and Tallmadge Road, heading west. Mine was the first car in the lane.

While the light was still red, I felt a thud from behind. I jumped out to see what had happened. The young driver in the as-new Dodge behind me was shrugging her shoulders.

With a few mild expletives out of the way, punctuated by upturned palms and a quizzical expression on my face, I walked to the driver s side of the Dodge.

A petite woman, in her early to mid-20s, I d guess, rolled down her window and said something about there being no damage. I didn t know that for sure yet because the back of my car was dripping with rain.

I agreed that the collision appeared to be minor, but I wanted to be certain there was no harm to my car. I told her that we should pull into the BP station at the corner to exchange information, and she nodded agreement.

When the light finally changed, I crossed the intersection and pulled into a parking spot at the service station. She followed.

Then, as I got out of my car and walked toward hers, she peeled out of the station and drove briskly west on Sylvania.

Suddenly, I was seething with fury and indignant that she would pull such a stunt. I was also upset with myself for not noting her license plate before I had driven into the service station.

I jumped back into my car as fast as a senior can jump back into anything. Smiling a bit because no traffic was blocking my re-entry onto Sylvania, I headed after the Dodge.

I hadn t gotten up to the speed limit when I saw the Dodge pull into a driveway on the south side of the road about a quarter mile away from me.

I drove to the first driveway after that one and carefully turned around, returning to the driveway where I last saw the Dodge.

It wasn t there, but one door in the double garage behind the two-family house was shut.

I rang the doorbell on that side of the house. No answer.

I walked into the back yard to peer into the windowless garage when a neighbor from the other side of the house asked what I was doing. I identified myself and said that I had just been the victim of a minor hit-skip accident. I told her I had trailed the driver to that garage.

I asked her to phone her neighbor and advise her to come out to settle the issue, which was quickly growing into something far more significant than it needed to be. She said she didn t know how to contact the neighbor.

Clearly, I was not going to get any help there.

Then I knocked on the door of the resident s side that went with the garage containing the Dodge. A man I d guess to be in his early 30s answered and calmly asked what I wanted.

He looked so innocent and explained that he was unaware of what had happened. I ve seen better acting in home movies.

He went back inside for a couple minutes. When he returned, he said that I had scared his wife, a small, young thing, as he described her. He also said that she should not have fled the scene, but insisted her action was understandable.

I pointed out that running from the scene of an accident is illegal, but chose not to debate it otherwise.

He walked me back to the garage and opened the door. Lo and behold, there was the Dodge.

He went to the front of the car to look at the bumper. No damage, he proclaimed.

Then he looked at my car s rear bumper. The pronouncement of no damage was the same. He also said he was an auto body man and could see that it was unharmed.

Still, water continued to cascade off my car in the rain and it was hard to get a clear look at the bumper. I wanted the dealer to check it over before I wrote it off as a non-accident.

We exchanged telephone numbers.

However, he balked at showing me any insurance information. When I insisted, he rummaged for such data in the glove compartment, but came up empty on that score.

He did, however, find the title to the Dodge, and showed it to me. I wrote down the name and address of the owner, who the man said was his wife s mother.

He insisted they had insurance and went back to the house to ask his wife for some proof. He returned empty handed, but said he thought it was Allstate.

I wasn t going to get any further information, and he promised emphatically that he d make good any cost to me.

Then I left for a quick visit to the car dealer s service bay.

The service manager wiped off the bumper. He discovered a dent in the plastic, certainly minor, but out of place on a car that didn t have another blemish anywhere.

Armed with the news that there was indeed some damage, I returned home and called the husband of the woman who put the dent in my bumper.

I told him the repair would likely be relatively inexpensive. I said I would get an estimate from the dealer s body shop and call him back. Again he said not to worry.

The next day, his phone was suddenly out of order, with a recording saying that his voice mail was under construction. Or something like that.

For the next three days, I got the same message when I called.

A call to Allstate also showed nobody with that Dodge owner s name or anyone else at that address was insured there.

Despite his assurances, I was starting to worry.

The damage would cost $125 not a very big deal.

But I was becoming far more upset that this deadbeat was trying to beat me out of that sum.

My choices at this point seemed clear:

--- Return to his home for a confrontation.

--- Write off the incident and forget the whole thing.

--- Get the Toledo police involved.

--- Hire a lawyer and teach this whippersnapper a lesson.

Now, I am asking you to click on the comment link below and share with me what you d do if it was up to you.

I will publish your responses in Part 2, when I write about everything that happened next.



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