Today I may have earned my badge. This morning I was traveling in the backseat of a car working on my computer when I heard the unmistakably sound of metal crunching other metal. I looked up and saw a truck trying to fit into a space in front of us that wasn’t sufficient, and continuing to pull the bumper from our car until it freed itself, then the truck kept going. The truck kept going. That was pretty incredible to start with, but it got better. My driver stopped quickly to survey the damage, didn’t like what he saw, jumped back in and drove in pursuit of the truck. He overtook the truck, then swung back in front of it and stopped. He did it well, I have to admit, and it was impressive. Just like in the movies, only I was in the back seat.
Then he got out of the car, and started shouting immediately. Two older men (mid-40s, my driver is 28) started shaking their heads and shouting as well, and pretending it wasn’t their fault. Like we didn’t see what happened. Like it wasn’t obvious whose fault it was. Like we were stupid.
Soon it became clear that what I had heard about these events was true. Both sides have to come out shouting, and the person with the best act prevails. I wasn’t sure how I could help my driver, but I wanted to try, as he’s had a patch of bad luck lately, and he was driving a government car, and his boss wasn’t going to be happy.
I decided I should take some pictures, because it looked like the truck drivers were trying to get back to their truck to leave. So I grabbed my camera, got out of the car, and walked up to the license plate of the truck, and started shooting. Then I took pictures of the truck, where it impacted our car, and asked our driver where else he thought I should take a picture. Next I turned and attempted to take a photo of the driver, but he turned away and put up his arm in front of his face. Now I was getting somewhere. I waited until both of them were involved with more shouting and I got a good profile of them both. I could most definitely ID them on a line up if need be. Last I went up to the driver and shook my head and with my best teacher face wagged my finger in his face and said, “You know you did it. Don’t try to lie.” He was unimpressed (if only I knew how to say that in Malayalum!) and walked away, and I returned to my car. I was feeling it, working them, despite the language barrier.
My driver got some information from them at that point, and we drove on to my training. My driver told me someone would be calling me tonight, but I never got a call. I’m going to speak with his employer tomorrow to tell them I have some eyewitness photos and would be glad to be deposed on behalf of my driver. A gal’s got to protect her ride, right?
Later when I was telling my colleagues at work (they already knew by the time they arrived!) they laughed out loud when I told the part about taking pictures, but I didn’t see anything funny. S got a kick out of as well. I think it was a perfectly normal reaction in this Wild West mentality of car accidents.
A small irony of the day is that when I got in, I noticed I was in a different car (it’s a car pool so sometimes someone else has “our” car.) Having a different car is no big deal, but if a government official has been sitting in the back, they always tuck away the seat belts because they are invincible, I guess. I told my driver that when I got to my training, he should get in the trunk and retrieve the seat belt for me, please, and in the mean time, don’t have any accidents or kill me, ok? He laughed, but it turned not to be funny. Oh, India, your roads are a mess, your traffic hopelessly congested, and your drivers mostly pretending they are in a bumper car environment. I could use some safe mass transit in my life….