One last shot fired by 2020.

01 January 2021

Well, happy friggin' new year, everyone. It's 2021.ev at last, the year when the Internet is supposed to look like this or something.

Of course it's never that easy. 2020.ev had one final kick in the crotch lined up, this one for me. I may as well tell the story as it unfolded, because that's how it seems to make sense. You may as well get your buckets of popcorn ready because why not, it's story time with Uncle Bryce again.

So, 31 December 2020.ev. I had an errand to run (one of precious few these days, due to the covid lockdown in California) so I grabbed my stuff, walked out of the house, and hiked down the street to get my car. There was just one problem: Where was my car?

To make a long story short, I hiked a good four blocks in every direction (protip: logarithmic spirals make good search patterns on foot), both looking around for my car and trying to ping it with the remote control key fob, to no avail. It was possible that my car had been stolen (it had already been broken into once last year) so I figured that a little battle station detective work was in order. On my way home I talked to one of my neighbors, who said that she hoped that my car wasn't the one that got totalled down the street the night before. Needless to say I felt a sudden sense of foreboding.

After a little prowling around Argus made the discovery that, in the state of California you can run a vehicle's status if you have the license plate number and VIN. I did so and discovered that my car had been towed by the police the night before around 2117 hours local time. It also said that I owed $560us (!!) for the privilege of my car having been towed. I didn't have any outstanding tickets, and in northern California if you happen to not pay them your car gets booted, not towed so I didn't know off the cuff what the hell was going on.

Next move: Look up who to contact if your car's been towed. That lead me to the police department's Department of Records. After a little friendly conversation with the clerk and more forking over of PII (which they probably could have bought off of eBay for a nickel, but whatever) I discovered that my car had been reported as having been abandoned (?!) and was towed to the wrecking yard the county has under contract. If I wanted to get my car back I'd have to show up at their office between 0800 and 1200 hours local time, seven days a week (including today, thankfully), pay them $166us to release my car, and then they'd tell me which wrecking yard to go to (though I'd already figured that bit out).

While I was witnessing the power of this fully armed and operational bureaucracy, Lyssa was pulling wires to find someone who could drive me around on New Year's Day because the wrecking yard my car was at charges $100us per day in storage fees, and I was already looking at a pretty hefty bill. Aid came in the form of Kathy, a friend of ours in the South Bay, who's an early riser anyway.

0815 hours local time: I was out of bed, in the shower, and then caffeinating. Kathy arrived around 1000 hours, and after grabbing a couple of books (the wrecking yard in question has a reputation for operating very slowly, largely due to the size of their yard and the labyrinth of junked cars therein as I was to discover later), a mask and my sunglasses we hit the road. The local police station isn't that far away, at most ten minutes when there are no other cars on the road (and there weren't). After the requisite "Have you been sick lately?" question and getting our temperatures taken we headed up to the Office of Records and waited to be let in. The clerk behind the lexan shield informed me, after paying the county police's bill, where I could retrieve my car and about how much it would cost me to do so. This was information I already possessed but sometimes it's nice to get confirmation of just how much pain your bank account's going to be in soon.

It should be noted that at no time did anyone tell me that my car was damaged or had been involved in a hit-and-run static collision. Everything I was told by anyone was "your car is here." After asking a couple of polite questions the clerk informed me that there was no open police case, this was a simple matter of someone calling and telling them that there was an abandoned car which needed to be removed. In our part of California a car can be considered abandoned after 72 hours of not being driven. In point of fact this covers pretty much every car in NorCal right now because nobody's going anywhere, and there are very few places to go which are open anyway. But I digress.

As you can probably guess from the last paragraph, my car was indeed involved in hit-and-run collision. While parked just around the corner from our house somebody nailed my car at cruising speed, well in excess of the posted speed limit judging by the damage. Nobody seems to know what became of the other car - the police wrote it up as "abandoned car, get rid of it" and didn't open any kind of investigation. I don't think I'll ever find out what happened and I'm not even sure what was going on in the first place. I'll assemble some agents to go hunting for me but I'm not sure it'll be anything other than an academic exercise. However, back to my car: The left-hand side is completely trashed - the doors are crumpled and are wrenched vertically out of position. The frame is bent in a gentle U shape around the point of impact. The interior in the back was shattered by the impact, something I didn't know could happen. And... and and and... the cherry on the cake is that one of the wheel struts snapped clean off, leaving the right rear wheel parallel to the ground and dangling by the brake line.

Things are not looking good.

It was pretty obvious from the get-go that there's no way in hell I could get my car home. what I was able to do, however, was get into the car from the passenger side and call my insurance company to file a claim. The good news is, they've already declared that the accident wasn't my fault because I wasn't in the car at the time and nobody can find the culprit. Filing the claim took quite a while due to all of the questions I had to answer. Amazingly, Geico's mobile app doesn't suck, and I was able to attach photographs of the damage to my car and my paperwork to the open case (not a plug, a statement and admission of surprise at how well it works) while talking to one of their operators. Twice while sitting in the car one of the guys who works at the breakers walked over and politely informed me that I couldn't sit in my car all day mourning, they had to move it to make room. Twice I politely informed them (cheerfully seconded by the operator, whom I was speaking to on my mobile in speakerphone mode) that I was filling out an insurance claim and would let them know when I was done. Twice I was told to take my time, no hurry, just let us know when you're done.

By the bye, the "politely" bit above isn't sarcasm. Simple misunderstandings were resolved with a little civility and respect.

Once the insurance claim was filed and I'd released custody of the car to the insurance company, Kathy helped me pull what little stuff I had out of my car (mostly books that were going to Goodwill soon anyway) and got me home. Geico's going to tow my car to a yard that they work with to assess my car. They say they have to consider it fixable until after they get a look at it on Monday, but I've a feeling that the insurance adjustor's ruling is going to be the same as the mechanics' professional opinions. Time will tell.

I don't know what exactly happened with my car getting totalled. I suspect that the local police showed up to look at the wreck, possibly in conjunction with persuit of the vehicle that did the deed, but rather than open an actual case (which means an investigation and lots of paperwork on their part) they just called in an abandoned car report, which is about as open and shut as it gets around here. This would also imply that there would be significantly less paperwork on their part, which would account for nothing showing up in the official records or the neighborhood police blotter. While I can understand that this would be a thing that folks might want to do so close to the end of the year so they can clock out and kick back at home, that's not the same thing as agreeing with it. Also, I'm just speculating with the data I have at hand. The operator I spoke to at the insurance company was very surprised that there was no police report, an admittedly dubious claim on my part which she confirmed independently.

No photographs of vehicle gore will go up just yet, because the insurance company isn't done with my claim yet. Once I find out for sure I'll put 'em up for folks to cringe at.

Oh, and if you run into any weenie looking guys in formerly nice nondescript business suits, be nice to them. They're having a way worse day than you or I are, okay?