I left work early yesterday to pick up the car at Heritage Toyota. Orson had called and requested that their customer shuttle fetch me, and as I emerged into the sauna-like heat, I saw that the van was already waiting.

When I arrived at the service desk I was told that the car had just come back from the collision center, and that the invoice wasn’t ready yet. Someone in the shop had to figure it, and (I assumed) bring it to the check-out desk. I waited 5… 10… 15 minutes while the clerk unconcernedly went about her business. Finally I asked, “Does she [the service coordinator] know I’m waiting?” “Oh, yes. I told her.” Several more minutes passed. Then she got up and walked out the door to the garage. She returned carrying my invoice. I wondered how long it had been sitting out there waiting for her to pick it up. Oh well…

I hopped into Volty and put it in gear. The ride was amazingly smooth with the new tires. I looked forward to telling Nos. But first, I had to do some errands. I dropped off my bag at home, fed Norman, and checked to make sure my chiropractor appointment really was that evening. (I hadn’t gotten a confirmation call as usual.) I arrived 5 minutes late, and was immediately ushered to a room. Seconds later, the chiropractor came in. I got the feeling that the entire staff had been waiting for me so they could all leave. The chiro guy was friendly as usual, though, and I emerged cracked and $30 lighter in the pocket a mere 10 minutes later.

On the way back, I stopped at Barnes & Noble and puzzled over the shelving system for computer books for some time. Eventually, I walked away with three O’Reilly books on Linux, Apache, and MySQL. For some reason, my debit card was declined twice in a row. I could see the clerk was becoming concerned, but when I ran it as a credit card instead, it worked. Whew!

Next stop: Burlington Health & Rehab to visit my Dad and drop off the computer I’ve been carrying around in my car for the past month and a half. My Dad was moved into a new room last week — a room mercifully free of another occupant. There is more space to put his belongings; at the beginning of the week, I got the go-ahead from the social services person to bring in his computer and put in on an empty desk. I set it up and made sure it worked while Dad was watching Jeopardy. (The freak was still winning after some ungodly number of weeks.) Then in my search for some of his recent correspondence, I noticed that his address book was missing. I searched all over the room, becoming more agitated the more I looked. Finally, I stepped out to the main desk and tensely asked the two women there if there was a lost and found. There wasn’t, but one of the women assured me that she would ask “Donna” tomorrow. I thanked her and returned to Dad’s room, still simmering. Minutes later, I found the address book stuffed into the “rooster bag” of newspapers. A number of postcards and letters had been hidden in there as well, including one unopened note from Maydene Bone.

When I left the building, I found that it was pouring rain. I was going to get pretty wet just running to my car, but I decided not to wait. I sprinted, hopped in, and pulled out of the parking lot to the sidewalk. Immediately, I realized that the oncoming traffic was pretty relentless and I wouldn’t be able to pull out anytime soon. And there was a woman coming down the sidewalk I was blocking. So I put the car in reverse. CRUNCH. The thought hadn’t even occurred to me that anyone could possibly be pulling out of the parking lot behind me. In confusion, I pulled slightly forward, and put the car in park. Then I climbed out.

The other driver was a young, fresh-looking woman in a dress who initially seemed a bit peeved. We gauged the damage together as the rain suddenly increased in intensity. Her bumper (actually her sister’s bumper, as she later revealed) was cracked, and the license plate was squashed. The bumper damage actually didn’t look new to me. When I ventured my opinion, she quickly contradicted me. But after I offered to give her my insurance info and admitted that I hadn’t even looked before backing up, she said, “It’s a pretty crappy car anyway… You know, let’s just forget it. I won’t tell if you won’t.” (Referring to the previously mentioned sister.) Thank Peep! I had just started to wonder how we were going to exchange insurance info without one of us getting into the other’s car to find a pen & paper. It would have been awkward. Not to mention the increased insurance premium. With relief, I wetly climbed back into Volty and pulled out into the now-empty street.

I stopped at City Market for some sushi and a bottle of Chimay ale (made by Trappist monks!). At the checkout line, I found that my debit card again had problems. The transaction didn’t go through the first time, and I had to enter my PIN again. The second time it worked. Whew!

After parking the car in the mall, I looked at the back bumper. The only sign of the impact was a small circular indentation from one of the license plate screws on the other car. Of course, it was ridiculous that the VERY DAY AFTER having the bumper replaced, I backed into something. But it could have been a lot worse.

That was my evening. Today my friend Pat told me of his own series of disturbing encounters, one of which was seeing a neighbor smack another neighbor on the side of the head while they were both standing on the sidewalk.

My theory: evil spirits were roaming Burlington last night.

About the author

Janice Dawley

Outdoorsy TV addict, artistic computer geek, loner who loves people.

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