Quote of the week:

“They'd have to shoot me to get me back to Illnois."

~Abraham Lincoln upon going to WDC to become president

Thursday, April 24, 2008

So long, Gary, with some regret(s)

This past Sunday, I became vehicularless. I sold my car, a 2003 Chili Red Mini Cooper. His name was Gary (as in Gary {mini} Cooper). My cars have always had boy names. It’s the second time I’ve had to sell a car due to economics. Over a five year period, I lost 13 months of income, due to my health, from surgeries, chronic pain, broken arm. I learned to quit asking the question, “WTF can happen next?!” Because when I did, the universe would respond. Let me state, the intent of this entry is NOT a poor me pity party. But, rather a documentation of events. This falls into the category of WASTHTR*

I got Gary in the Spring of 2003. MINIs were just hitting the US. I’m not usually at the far left side of the bell curve known as early adopters. But my friend Ben, had just ordered one. (He IS the early adopter profile.) I was starting a new job in the burbs that was going to be a big commute. I had gotten through the chronic pain debilitation, and one (unrelated) surgery. It was the mark of a new beginning, after a year and a half of hell. I had had to sell my previous car as a result of lost income from the chronic pain convalescence.

The funny (strange funny/ not ha ha funny) thing about working in healthcare is that one would think one would have great benefits relating to healthcare—things like short-term and long term disability. Not so much. Each of those 13 months over that 5 year period was a time with NO income, no disability. The most I ever got was one to two weeks of vacation or PTO time that may have been accrued. So, no income means NO income.

Friends were excited for me. Many made a big deal out of getting Gary, because of the previous year and a half and symbolically what the new car meant for me.
I had Gary less than a month, in fact, I had not yet made my first car payment, when one afternoon, backing out of my space in the parking deck at the Hospital (which would later become known as 5RH**), a Chevy Tahoe backs into me. I have no admissible evidence, but the lady driving the Tahoe was on her cell phone. There was a witness who verified that she was the driver at fault. When the witness (an employee) had to leave, she asked the security guard if she needed to leave her name and contact info. He replied, “No”, as he knew who she was. (I would later regret not taking her info myself.) The funny (this time it IS funny ha ha.) thing was, is that security was there in seconds—literally. Hospital security was not known for their swiftness of action. It wasn’t until I was finally driving out after the police showed up and we did the whole police report stuff, that I realized I had already opened up the moon roof, so my voice could be heard. As soon as I heard the crunch of my back fender, I just started screaming,
at the top of my lungs. That’s what got security there so quickly! That was in May. The witness? When I called security the next day to get her name and contact info for my insurance company. They had no recollection of a witness. When I said, “She came up and talked to you!, and you told her you knew who she was!” Of course the Chevy Tahoe driver denied fault. So my first car payment was my $500. insurance deductible.

In September, I was coming back home from a trip downstate to visit a friend. Euckie was NOT with me this time. Being a compliant patient, and following my (PM&R) doc’s instructions, I get out stop at a rest stop to walk around, stretch my legs. Upon re-entering the highway from the rest stop exit ramp, I do my look backwards, see nothing, enter the high, and am immediately hit by someone driving a Cadillac Seville. I veer off to the side, start to open my door, to go to the other car, and I feel pain and dizzy. I stop. I call 911. I get my first (and hopefully last) ambulance ride. While in the ER, on the gurney, on a back board with a C-Collar, I am approached by a police officer who gives me a ticket for improper lane usage. The other driver received the same. Since there were no witnesses, rather than issuing no tickets, as there was no evidence to support either party, they chose to be equal opportunity offenders. I could appear in court to fight the ticket. “I’m sorry for your injuries. I hope you’re OK.” I won’t tell you what words were running through my mind, but I’m sure you can guess. On top of that, I had to piss like a race horse. I learned that this is not an easy task, when flat on your back strapped down, with something pressing on a full bladder. To make matters worse, I find out that the guy who hit me was the son of a Chicago policeman. My chances of contesting the ticket winning that battle were just annihilated.

There was a third incident that happened on December 23 of the same year, leaving the hospital. I was sideswiped by the Electric Company truck. It grazed the side, and took out the side mirror and mirror cap, and door handle. There was no way I was reporting this to the insurance. I went 14 years without an auto insurance claim (and that one wasn’t my fault, either). And, three in a year’s time, with a new vehicle.

I have two philosophies about regrets. The first one is, one should NOT have regrets.
The second one is, or perhaps a corollary of the first is, if you must have regrets, they should be about things you did NOT do. There should never be regrets for doing something, as I think that even the bad experiences in life are hopefully learning experiences.

When I wanted to start my florist business, my Mom was dead set against it. “What’s going to happen if you fail?!” My family has always been a glass half empty (or completely empty) type of people. Affirmation and positive reinforcement were not a part of the arsenal. My response was, “I’d rather try and fail, than not try at all, and when I turn 40 wonder ‘what if’?”

I can say for the most part, I pretty much have led my life with no regrets. And the regrets I do have are of things I did NOT do, or did NOT do sooner. When I was a freshman in college, I was offered a ticket to go see Harry Chapin in Concert. I opted to go to a party instead, rationalizing that Harry came around every year for his ‘World Hunger Concert Tour”. Before Harry got back to a return concert, he was killed in an auto accident.

The next regret is one I vacillate back and forth on. I wish I’d come out of the closet long before I did. It didn’t happen until I was in my late 20s, in grad school. The reason I vacillate on this one is that given the point in history, had I come out in early college, chances are strong that I’d be dead. With my luck, I’d have contracted HIV, when they were still trying to figure out what it was.

My current regret of something that I did NOT do is that I did NOT file bankruptcy when it was recommended by various individuals. I would not allow myself to suffer that sort of shame and become one of ‘those deadbeat sycophants’ on society.

This is what brought me to selling Gary. When I left 5RH to take my current position, I took a HUGE cut in salary—almost half. Yes, it was a conscious decision, partly based on ‘what price do you put on sanity?” The job REALLY was THAT bad. Also, this employer has solid short-term and long term disability plans, as well as a good medical plan. These are things I had to look for in a job. Should I retire from here (it’s unlikely I’ll live to see that), my health insurance is paid for the rest of my life.

I was already asshole deep in medical debt. Last year, to try and reduce some of that debt, I cashed out my life insurance policy, and retirement. As a result, I took a terrible tax hit this year, and owed the IRS. I claim zero dependents, and usually get a very nice return every year. I knew that the cash out would affect that, but I anticipated that it would reduce greatly what I would get back this year, and that I would not end up owing my left nut. I was mistaken. Having no more savings, or retirement to cash out, the remaining thing is to liquidate solid assets…hence, Gary has gone to a new home in Arkansas. If I’d filed bankruptcy, especially before W’s new laws went into place, my life insurance and retirement would have been protected. Stupid fucking pride. What do I have to show for it? Certainly not a car, anymore. On the up side, I've just become more earth friendly.

* Weird Ass Shit That Happens To Randy
** Fifth Ring of Hell


aimable said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
GDad said...

aimable - F**king spammers. If I ever meet one in person, I shall kick him or her between the thighs enough times to split them up the middle to the neck.

Randy - What a story. [Raises glass] Here's to improved health and fortune.

gay CME guy said...

Thanks G-Dad--for IDing aimalbe as spam, and for the toast.

Marc Acito said...

Floyd and I have a Mini. Would you mind if we named it Gary in your honor? (Gary Mini Cooper is f**ing brilliant. I wish I had thought of that.)

gay CME guy said...

I would say, 'nothing would make me happier', but that'd be a lie. Having Euckie back and/or waking up with Brad Pitt and George Clooney would make me pretty damn happy. But I would be pleased and honored to have your Mini be Gary Cooper II. But I want pix of him. I'll drop you an email at your website.