Tales of a wandering lesbian

Wham, bam, thank you, ma’am

Wham Bam Thank you Ma’am

A few weeks ago, I got in a car accident.  I’m alright, but my car’s not.  I mean really not.  Pirus the Prius is dead.  His organs will be divided up and parceled out to other cars, so I suppose he’ll live on.  But it hurts.

And, honestly, I’m still waiting on test results to find out how “alright” I am.

For anyone who hasn’t gone through the circus show of being in a wreck, I’ll just say that it’s enough to make me consider not driving at all.

The guy who hit me pulled an illegal u-turn directly into the front of my car.  No idea why, other than that he “didn’t see” me.  At full speed.  In the middle of Santa Monica Blvd.

Thank goodness it wasn’t my fault.  It’s really good in terms of insurance etc.  But really hard in terms of PTSD.  Now, every time I feel the brakes, I get a pang in my gut, and my back and neck and shoulder.  Everywhere that still hurts from being slammed into.

I don’t really want to relive the incident itself, but the process afterward is something else.

Immediately afterward, the 911 call was a trip.  This all happened in Los Angeles, so it was the LAPD dispatch that responded to me as I sat in the smoke from the airbag that had discharged.

“Is anybody injured?” this was her insistent question.

“I don’t know.”

“Ma’am, is anybody injured?”

“I don’t know.”  I’d just been hit going 35 mph.  The only thing I knew was that I could talk and that I hurt.

“Can you ask?”

“No.  Well, yes, it’s me.  I don’t know if I’m hurt.”  I could see the other driver walking around his car.

“Ma’am, I need to know if I should send an ambulance.”

“I don’t know.”

“Do you want me to send an ambulance?”

I ran a quick inventory of my body.  Nothing seemed to be bleeding or sticking out strangely.

Ambulances are expensive.  I don’t have health insurance.  Fuckers. Went through my brain.

“No.  Can you send police?  We’re blocking the road.”

“Yes.  Please stand by for police instruction.”

Then 911 put me on hold.

In the mililseconds after the crash, I considered what to do.  I’d just left my girlfriend’s apartment after a lovely afternoon together.  She was the first person I wanted to call.  But my logic told me we should get 911 in process first.  Now that I was on hold, however, I decided to text her and ask her to come my way.  I’d need a ride.  And I really wanted a hug.  Mostly, I just wanted to see her face.

So I started texting.  And accidentally hung up on the dispatcher.

I dialed again, and went through the same song and dance, this time with a different dispatcher.

“Is anyone hurt?”

“I don’t know.  Can you just send police, please?”

“No.”

What?  “I’m sorry, no?”

“We can only dispatch police if someone is receiving medical transport. Do you need an ambulance?”

I was shaken, and this guy was in no way helping.  My sense of righteous indignation, however, was completely intact. “So what you’re telling me is that, because I don’t have health insurance, you’re not going to send LAPD?”

It wasn’t a fair question, but I was still inhaling fumes from the airbag, and just beginning to realize that I was seriously bruised form the seat belt.  And I was pissed.

“No, ma’am, I’m just telling you our policy.”

“Well, you’ll want to send someone to direct traffic.  We’re blocking both lanes of the street.”  Surely, he’d see the reason in that.

“You’ll need to move your cars.”

“They’re not driveable.”

“You’ll need to call tow trucks.”

“Yes.  Of course.  But we can’t direct traffic.”

People were starting to gather around the vehicles.

“Does the other driver have a valid license and insurance?”

“I don’t know.  I was hoping the police could determine that.  I’m still in my vehicle.”

“Do you need an ambulance?”

“No.”

“Then I’m not sure what you want me to do.”

“Okay, fine.  We’ll figure it out.”  Click.

I was pretty much astounded. Gingerly, I opened the door and climbed out.  I could walk.  I could stand.  I could tell I was beat up, but I was grateful that I was in one piece.  My poor car, however, was a mess, crumpled and leaking everywhere.

It appeared that the other guy had broken his front axle.

Witnesses began to approach and we started the process of exchanging information.  I called my girlfriend and she started toward me in LA’s famous rush-hour traffic.

Then I sat back in my car and made another stab at getting LAPD on site.

“911 emergency.” It was the same guy.  What were the chances?  I mean really.

“There’s been an accident on Santa Monica Blvd.  We need police to respond to the scene.”

Pause.

“Is anybody hurt.”

Violent sigh.  “Okay, fine.  At this point I’m going to say yes, please send an ambulance.”

When the paramedics arrived, we were all walking around.  I was taking pictures, and the other driver was trying to pry his fender off his tire with a crow bar.  I waved and the medics came over to me.

“Are you injured?” Was the first question.

“I was hoping you could tell me.”  I was done with the song and dance.  I was done.  One of the guys was about as helpful as the 911 dispatcher.  He just looked at me, waiting for my self-diagnosis.  The other guy started an exam.

It was worth a try with these guys.  “Really, we need LAPD out here, and I was told they couldn’t respond unless we have a medical transport.”

“Do you need to go to the hospital?”  The unhelpful medic was looking at me again.

“I don’t know?  Do I?”  It was almost like we were all playing some big game with secret passwords that I didn’t know.

“You can come with us or you can drive yourself.  You could probably wait until Monday and see if you’re still hurting then.”

“Great. I’ll do that.”

The helpful medic responded.  “I’ll see if I can get LAPD out here.”

Finally.  “Thank you.”

By the time LAPD had arrived, we’d exchanged info, taken pictures, and speculated about whether each car was a total loss.  It took another half hour before we called tow trucks and got everything out of the street.

I know it’s LA, and there are more pressing things calling on the police, but seriously, I don’t think it’s the greatest idea to expect people who have just been in a pretty major accident to determine their injuries, evaluate each other’s documents for validity, direct traffic, and clean up the site of an accident.

When I told a friend about the experience, she said, “yeah, next time you’re in a wreck, just tell the 911 operator that you shot the SOB who hit you.  It’s the only way to get LAPD to respond.”

Noted.

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4 comments

1 Chris Hirsch { 11.07.11 at 7:26 pm }

I enjoy your stories! Funny yet insightful. Hope by now you are well and haven’t had any serious complications from your accident. I thought it would be exciting to visit LA but perhaps I’ll stay with the old farts in FL. I had catastrophic health insurance years ago when I was between jobs. Friend of mine went from one university to another and had three weeks without health insurance (age 51). He moved and had a massive heart attack and open heart surgery before his insurance kicked in. Now I am paranoid. Hope you are able to get some coverage. I enjoy your writing and wish you every success. Happy travelin’.

2 Big Mama { 11.08.11 at 5:39 am }

Good grief…..I hope you got that hug!

3 Ce'licia TaTiana { 03.15.12 at 11:12 am }

Okay, as an EMT myself, I am really disappointed in those hooligans that call themselves EMTs. The sad thing is that a lot of the workers in the medical profession just don’t care much about the quality of work they do. I sadly work with many people who fit that description. Your story only strengthens my zeal to provide good, personal care for my patients!! Hope you weren’t injured too bad.

4 Ant { 07.29.12 at 3:03 pm }

Password…yes I must remember that.

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