Yesterday, Mike called from work and asked me to come pick him up. He’d gone running with the squadron (unit, platoon, whatever) that morning and gotten sick. For a nearly 40 year old man, my husband is in great shape. The man can out push-up guys nearly half his age. He can run three and a half miles and barely be breathing hard. But yesterday, the cold he’s still getting over refused to allow him to compete on the level he’s accustomed to. He did the run, actually completed it, but then started feeling bad almost immediately. Still, it took him almost three more hours before he admitted defeat and called me.

I didn’t mind the drive. The H1 can be a nightmare at certain times of the day, but 10:30AM is a good time to head toward the center of the island. I completely zoned out as I was heading up the H2 though. Finally, I realized I was passing everyone and slowed down before I got ticketed.

Poor car. It’s built for speed. We used to fly down the Autobahn at 110 mph. I had a hard time adjusting to slower speeds when I first got here. But then some guy plowed into me on the H1 and it was all I could do to get behind the wheel of a car again. He was making a U-turn across traffic so he could get to the shoulder. Neither of us were speeding, thank heavens, or it would have been much worse. Someone would have died.

Took 4 months and a lot of money, but the car was fixed. Natually, he didn’t have insurance. Our insurance had to pick up the whole bill, and we had to pay the deductible. But I felt sorry for the guy. He was a Micronesian immigrant, driving a friend’s van, and the money for repair of my car and the van was close to $25K. I think about him from time to time. I was mad when the accident happened, but I still felt bad for this man. He sat at the wheel of the van, his eyes red with tears, and apologized to me again and again. His family, all seven of them, just stood there and didn’t say anything. No one was hurt though. I had a bruise from the seatbelt tightening down. The airbag deployed, but it was so quick I don’t remember anything about it other than the smell of sulfur.

For a long time, I wished I had a lot of money so I could just pay the bills for us both, so he could take that weight off his mind and not be beaten down by an angry insurance company and the guilt of causing trouble for the friend who was actually liable because it was her van and she was the one without insurance.

Mike says I am too soft-hearted. The guy did something dumb, something illegal. And I said, “But his life shouldn’t be ruined because of a dumb mistake that took all of a few seconds and changed everything for the worse.”

It’s a year later now, and I think about him less. I drive without clenching the wheel and keeping a palm poised over the horn. I change lanes quicker, and I’m not afraid of a burst of speed to get past someone driving slowly or poorly. The insurance company told me they were going after the person who owned the van, but they didn’t expect anything. She could barely speak English, apparently. They had no idea if she had any assets, but they doubted it. And since it’s over a year later and I’ve not gotten a check for the deductible, I imagine she had no money to give. So, she’ll get notices for two years about this big bill, and then it will go on her credit record as a bad debt. And she wasn’t even in the van that day.