Thursday, February 16, 2006

Phone Call to National Insurance Chain

Re: Car Accident two weeks ago.

Me: Yes, I'm calling about claim number &^%*%$?

He: Oh, hi Geoff. Yes, I've got good news for you. I've seen the police report, I've spoken to the witnesses, I've seen the vehicles...and my instinct is that MAIF (the other insurer) is going to pay for your car.

Me: Really? That's great.

He: Yes. The witness who was behind you was very coherent and respectable and made a statement that the other driver was at fault, and said she would testify to that effect. Another witness on the police report was, well, how should I say it, a bit rough around the edges. She was all like (mimicking a Martin-Lawrence-esque caricature of an African American woman) "Yo whitey like smacked into her BOOM. Gotta go visit my baby daddy, beyatch, can't answer any more fool questions." *laughter on his end of the line* So I think your witness is much more reliable and is far more credible.

Me: I'm sorry? There's another witness who thinks I was at fault?

He: Yes, but she's not credible.

Me: Why?

He: Well, she speaks in a degraded manner and was unable to provide details and seems unlikely to testify. I suspect she's a friend of the other driver.

Me: So "credibility" rests upon the fact the other driver was black, and her witness was black, and I'm white, and my witness was white? Is that what you're telling me?

He: Of course not.

Me: Well, what leads you to suspect the other witness knows the other driver? Why not make the same assumption on my part? Is it the manner of speech of this other witness that makes her less credible?

He: We're only looking out for your interests.

Me: Hmmmm. What did the police report say?

He: Oh, that you were at fault.

Me: WHAT?!

He: Don't worry--it's only circumstantial. They make a determination based on the positions of the vehicles after the accident. They didn't actually see it happen. Your car had encroached the yellow line, but did not cross it. She was going at a high rate of speed. Your cars collided. It's possible she was on your side of the line and the impact pushed your car onto the dividing line--that's what your witness said.

Me: But the other witness contradicts that?

He: Yes, but she's less credible.

Me: Because she's black?

He: Of course not!

Me: Because she's poor?

He: Your witness isn't exactly wealthy.

Me: Neither am I, and I suspect you aren't either.

He: We're only looking out for your interests.

Me: Any other news?

He: Yes, the other driver has retained an attorney. My instinct says she knows she's at fault and is likely worried about dollar signs.

Me: What? She was injured--maybe she's worried she'll get screwed by the system and is only doing for herself what you're doing for me--looking out for my interests!

He: I've been doing this a long time. You're educated, you're employed, you're articulate...

Me: Does any of that make me a good driver?

He: You have no accidents or citations on your record, no points, no violations...

Me: And she?

He: Has a history of speeding and car accidents.

Me: So what happens here might depend more on past activity than on what actually happened two weeks ago?

He: Yes. This is likely not worth fighting for them.

Me: Because I'm white and "articulate."

He: Of course not.

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