This evening, after my wife, daughter, and I had left my office Christmas party, we went out through town looking at Christmas lights. We got our fill of the pretty lights and the awfully-nice neighborhoods after maybe 45 minutes, and we headed home.
All in all, it'd be a real uneventful story — except for the fact that we were abruptly rear-ended in our '95 Honda while sitting at a stoplight.
I won't talk much about how your heart collapses when you've been rear-ended like that, and immediately your staggered mind wonders (1) how long you'll be in the intersection, which you just got pushed into, before you get hit again, and (2) why your 3-year-old daughter, who was strapped into her car seat in the back seat, just like always, isn't crying ... when by all rights she should be.
(The answer to (2) was that she was pretty much as shocked as we were, and only started crying when we started asking her — pretty frantically, I imagine — if she was okay.)
But now my financial landscape changes dramatically, too. The Honda was long since paid for, still as clean and dependable a car as I could hope for. We had every intention of driving it into the ground. Now, after about 10 years, I'm back in the market for a car. And I don't like the thought of it one bit.
I suspect I'll be doing well to get $1000 from the insurance company for the Honda. But, in reality, the value of the Honda wasn't $1000 by any stretch. Rather, that little red scooter of a car meant no car payments for us for the forseeable future. Which, by my math, equals way more than a thousand bucks. Not that this will matter much in the end — to anyone but my wife and I, at least.
So how much of my emergency fund do I plunder for this? Right now it hurts to think about. I'm several months removed from my last credit-card arbitrage play, so my credit score should be just fine for whatever financing might be needed. I'll buy used, of course. Preferably another Honda, but Toyota would be fine, too. Since I work at a Nissan dealership, I'll consider an Altima, I guess. But quality-wise, Nissan is a distant #3 in my book.
Working at a dealership has its advantages in this scenario, of course. If I buy our next car through my employer, I'll pay cost plus a small, pre-set premium. Plus, since the wreck occurred right across the street from my place of employment, I was able to call my manager (who was still at the Xmas party) and get a rental vehicle from our fleet within minutes. (He brought it to us, even, and helped us unload our stuff from the Honda when we were pretty obviously frazzled. Thanks again, Paul.)
Anyhow, this seemed like a good time to remind readers that Life often has a way of sneaking up on you and handing you a situation you really didn't want any part of. And remember, folks, that when Life pays an unexpected visit, it usually carries a Big Stick.
But as I had to reassure Lisa several times tonight, we were lucky. We walked away. Our daughter wasn't injured (or not that we've been able to discern so far). She didn't even get bathed in shattered glass (thanks to window tinting). Goodness knows it could have been much worse.
Financially, we're in a better position to handle this than we would've ever been at any previous time. With no debt other than our home, we can make room for a car payment for a while if we need to.
One thing's for sure:
Life can be crazy. And you just never know.
Posts In This Series
How Quickly It All Changes, Part 1
How Quickly It All Changes, Part 2
And Now We Wait ... Some More
There's Something New In the Garage
How Quickly It All Changes, Part 3
How Quickly It All Changes, Part 4