As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, the worst year in a long, long while was capped off by discovering that my car had been wrecked and towed without my knowing about it. I finally got the pictures I took at the junkyard up for the horror and edification of all and sundry. Long story short, my car was indeed totalled, undrivable, time for an insurance payout. As usual, Captain Corner Case strikes again and everything was way the hell more difficult than it ever really needed to be. Where should I start?
I went around to my neighbors to ask what they might have seen the night my car was totalled. A few of them actually saw it happen - I had parked at the corner of a one-way street (for all intents and purposes) a few days before. The car that hit mine was going the wrong way up said one-way street, at cruising speed (significantly faster than the posted 15 miles per hour speed limit). She somehow managed to slam into my car broadside, careen off, and go through somebody's fence (totalling her own car in the process). One neighbor called the local police to report the accident. The other neighbors saw the driver climb out of the passenger side of her car, start screaming that her car had been hit and she'd spun out and needed help (what?), and took off on foot. Nobody's seen the driver since.
The police never showed (which is not surprising), which explains why nobody showed up at my front door to say that my car had been wrecked. Nobody's quite sure when the tow truck showed up or who called them (I've little reason to think that my neighbors made that particular call), only that both cars were towed as abandoned (which means that somebody, probably the police, made that report) to the local junk yard. This also explains why there doesn't seem to be any other paperwork at an official level.
Oh, well. Fuck it. I've got more important things to worry about... which brings me right along to Fuckery the Second.
My insurance company did everything right. I'm fairly sure of that. However, my bank refused to accept a mobile deposit of the insurance settlement cheque (a cash value in excess of $12kus). As it turns out (and this situation comes up so rarely I don't even know if I ever ran into it) my bank only accepts a up to grand total of $9kus in deposited cheques per month. My non-USian readers have undoubtedly just facepalmed so hard that they've given themselves concussions.
Note: This post is written in chronological order. Of course the later solutions will seem completely reasonable and I should have done it that way in the first place. I didn't think of them at the time or I would have.
Laurelindel was nice enough to help me look for a new car, so of course I went with as loaded a 2021 Toyota Camry Hybrid as I could afford. The Camry Hybrids seem to hold their value very well (I got about 50% of the Kelley Blue Book price after eight years and several cross-country drives) and the 2021 model gets about 52 miles per gallon in full hybrid mode (which I've yet to test). There's a Toyota dealership not too far away from where we live so I made an appointment to go there the next day. In point of fact, the dealership saw us shopping for a car on their website and called me up to ask if I liked what I saw and when could I come in to see it?
The next day I spent, for the most part, cooling my heels at the dealership. Some of it was due to covid and everybody staying away from everybody (which is fine, that's why I bring books with me), and some of it was the finance manager at the dealership really going above and beyond for me, calling Geico, my bank, and Toyota Financial to figure out if there was anything they could do. Spoiler alert: Pretty much nothing, but they were able to make allowances for me in the contract.
The test drive of the car, a beautiful slightly-darker-than-traditional-TARDIS blue Camry Hybrid LE, consisted of navigating out of the car lot several blocks away, picking my way through Oakland to get back to the dealership, and generally putting the vehicle through its paces. Needless to say, I was sold. The new gen Camrys have touchscreen control panels in them, fully operational Bluetooth (by that, I mean that they can now play audio from your phone over Bluetooth as well as provide a speakerphone), and best of all a built-in backup camera (which has improved my parallel parking immensely). I don't think you need me waxing poetic about my new car, so I'll spare you.
The one allowance that the dealership was able to make was that I could write a personal cheque in the amount of the insurance cheque, give it to them, and they would not attempt to deposit it until 21 January 2021. Those of you who know me well are probably wondering why I trusted them with this; the answer is, they wrote it into the automobile financing contract that all parties had to sign to make the sale. If you've ever tried to read one of those contracts you are probably now nodding your head, because those contracts are harder than US currency, Swiss bearer bonds, and even Bitcoin. I'm pretty sure one could survive re-entry from orbit with nary a scratch. So yes, I'm quite sure that they're not going to screw me with this. And they let me drive the car home, after which I ran a few errands to get a feel for how the new car drives.
I had to carry out a few creative accounting transactions to make sure I had enough money in my checking account to cover it. All legal, I assure you, and my lawyer wouldn't even wince if she saw it. But that brings me right along to that stupid insurance cheque...
I spent several hours on the phone with my bank trying to find out what my options were. They don't have any branches in California anymore, I checked. They're either closed permanently (probably due to covid-19) or were sold to a different bank (the only one within anything like driving distance (and even then, the office in question is now for loans and mortgages only!)). After talking with a number of bank officers, their supervisors, and their supervisors, I discovered that there was no way that anybody could override their system to even give me a one-time exception to deposit my cheque. My only option (which they would officially support) was to FedEx Overnight Mail the cheque to Philadelphia, PA to their offices, whereupon they would (hopefully) look at the detailed notes everybody put in my file and deposit the insurance cheque for me, regardless of the fact that it had been labelled "for mobile deposit only."
After discussing this with my family, it was determined that this was a non-starter.
What I wound up doing was talking with an insurance adjuster at Geico to get them to send me two cheques, one to deposit this month and one to deposit next month. Both of them are under the $9kus hard limit, just in case the bank decides to be pedantic and refuse a cheque for the exact amount of $9kus just to fuck with me. As I write this post I have a few more phone calls to make and e-mails to respond to; I'm confident that everything will have worked out as expected by the time you actually read this. If not, well, you'll never know because I'll have revised this post and re-saved it to the Git repo.