A car crash is never good news. Unless it is.
This was my first ever car accident – a fender bender in rush hour traffic. I was looking at my phone, I confess to texting and driving. Actually I was Facebook messaging someone who was asking my advice and I was doing my best to help her before I got home so I could concentrate on dinner and my family.
I was half a mile from the lights, I looked up and the car in front of me had stopped. I slammed on my brakes, they locked and I rear-ended the car at about five miles an hour.
My airbags didn’t deploy, but because I drive a salon (a Toyota Camry) and the car in front was an SUV (a Honda Pilot) my hood went right under the back bumper and tickled the Pilot’s duel exhausts, meanwhile the bumper did all sorts of mischief to my lights and grill.
The Pilot’s driver was very sweet about it, she said it was good that we were both unhurt. She called it a “drive away accident”.
At first I was annoyed with myself. I wanted to get home. It took 20 minutes for the officer to come and talk us through the documentation. By the time I was driving away I was already trying to look for the good.
Positive 1: I got to learn what you’re supposed to do after a car accident.
Ten minutes before I’d been texting on the highway going 65 miles an hour. It could have been much worse.
Positive 2: I vowed I’d never text and drive again.
I’d started to feel invincible. I’m not invincible.
The glass is one and a half glasses full
In 1978 a team of psychologists published this study that suggested people’s reported levels of happiness returned to a relatively set and stable level after major positive or negative life events, such as winning the lottery or being paralyzed in an accident.
The event itself is less important than your perception of it when it comes to defining that event’s effect on your happiness.
When I got home I assured my wife, “The timing was perfect.” There was going to be a blizzard that night and the body shops were bound to start filling up with fender benders. If it had happened the next day it might have taken twice as long to get repaired.
She didn’t think that was perfect, in fact my relentless optimism can rub her the wrong way. She wanted me to tell her I’d messed up and that it sucked, so that’s what I told her.
Two weeks later I was running my credit card at the body shop (1% cashback).
I had a $1000 deductible. It was Friday night and the office had a dozen donuts they were about to throw away.
Positive 4: Free donuts
When I looked over the list of work they’d done on the car – the repairs totaled $3500 (my insurance covered $2500) – I noticed a new headlight, and new AC parts listed. The crash had taken out my passenger headlight and messed up my AC unit. Both already needed replacing. I’d priced repairs at a local garage and had been told it would cost me $1600.
On the drive back (with snow still on the ground) I ran the air conditioner at full blast. And it worked. The headlight too.
Positive 5: Saved $1600 in repairs
|$1000 deductable||$1600 saved in repairs|
|Reduced car value||I don’t txt and drive|
|5 man hours spent||Learnt what to do after an accident|
|Cool office souvenir|
On balance I think I came out ahead. But then, I nearly always do think that.