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One extra boom after Rhythm and Booms was over

July 12th, 2004 No comments

Last Monday I headed to Warner Park to see Rhythm and Booms for the fourth time. It’s a fireworks show that’s heralded as the largest in the Midwest. The local oldies station (94.9 WOLX) broadcasts live music, which is choreographed with the fireworks. People come to the park and surrounding area in droves, set up their blanket on the ground and tune their radios in for an amazing show. I’ve always been impressed by what they do, and this year was slightly different.

The show was originally scheduled for July 3rd, but that was rained out and rescheduled for the 5th (last Monday). The rescheduling meant the show would be on a weekday rather than a weekend, and there would be no live music, but a recorded version. While it doesn’t matter as much because you listen to the music on the radio, it just gave the show a “let’s get this over with now cause things didn’t go well Saturday” type feel. Nonetheless, the show was pretty good, and beats any local fireworks you’ve seen and pretty much surpasses even the Big Bang that starts of Summerfest.

The bigger story about Rhythm and Booms night is what happened afterwards. With 250,000 people normally attending, and 100,000 or so coming to this year’s rain-delayed version, you can imagine traffic is a mess. It took about a half hour to travel a block in the subdivision I was parked in just to get to a main street to get out of there. Then, the other main arteries were just as busy, but at least moving.

Even when I was a few miles away from the event, and maybe a mile from my apartment, things were pretty solidly packed. Traffic was moving maybe 10-20 miles an hour, bumper to bumper (that becomes pretty literal in a few seconds). As I traveled westbound on Gorham, through the intersection with Franklin St., I was jolted forward and heard a thud. Someone had rear-ended me.

I was lucky enough to be able to find a place to pull over right away, and even luckier to see the jerk who hit me pull over as well. It would have been quite easy to continue in traffic without me being able to catch them.

I got out of the car and didn’t even ask if people were OK as we were only going maybe 15 MPH. The damage to my Passat’s rear end was noticeable, but not devastating. The damage to the punk’s car who hit me was a bit worse. His flip-up headlights were flipped down and the hood was bowed upwards as well.

I told the guy I needed to see his registration and insurance info, and while he went to get that I called the cops. Because of Rhythm and booms traffic issues, they said it may be a while before a squad could get there.

His apparent girlfriend was in the car with him and was struggling to get the glove box open for their documentation. The accident had jammed the compartment closed and it took a decent amount of effort for them to finally get it open.

It started to rain again by the time I had his information, so I sat in the car and waited. And waited. After an hour of waiting and one call to MPD to see if someone was really coming, the driver of the other car appeared at my window. He notified me he needed to work at 5:30AM the next morning (it was midnight at that point) and he wanted to just call the accident in rather than waiting for the cops. I told him I needed to work in the morning as well, but I wasn’t going to just call it in and leave it at that, seeing I wasn’t going to be responsible for anything. He looked dismayed, if not angry, and walked away.

A half hour after that a squad finally appeared and things were taken care of. The officer got my info, told me the other driver would be cited and then discussed the repercussions of actually filing an accident report – the officer had Progressive insurance as well and said my rates may go up if they see an accident on my record, even a no-fault one. To be on the safe side, I had them do the report anyway. You never know what can happen in situations like that.

Now, up until that point the other driver, an 18 year old driving a 1995 Saturn SC2 which he just purchased at the end of may and was awaiting title and proper registration, had said nothing. Not a word other than telling me he couldn’t get the glove box open and that he wanted to call it in because he worked early. As I was walking back to my car to finally go home, I expected him to apologize or at least acknowledge something. At that point he was going to be cited for his mistake and fault was clear. He said nothing. He drove like an idiot, rear-ended a new car, and didn’t have the decency to apologize. I don’t care how young, how nervous, how scared, how tired the guy was, he could have at least apologized for what he did. It was entirely his fault and he didn’t have the decency to take responsibility for it and acknowledge the hassles I’ll have to go through to get the car repaired.

I won’t post his name here, despite being completely legit to do – that’s gotten me in trouble before. However, I’ll post a link to the accident report the city of Madison puts online, which has his name on it. You’ll see the fault was his, and he was cited for violating Wis. Statute 346.14(1): “The operator of a motor vehicle shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the speed of such vehicle and the traffic upon and the condition of the highway.” Poor him.

The next day, I called his insurance company to figure out what I needed to do next. He hadn’t called the accident in yet, so they were surprised to hear from me. I wasn’t surprised to hear that. They said they needed to get in touch with him and then they’d get back to me.

In the meantime, my insurance company contacted me. I had called them the night before to see what effect me notifying them about the accident I didn’t cause would have on my premium. Of course, they couldn’t give me an answer, as that would be too hard. The lady answering the phone didn’t “have the authority” to do so. As that must be an uncommon question and something they wouldn’t want to have a more direct answer to (my tongue is lodged firmly in my cheek for that). Why would I want to report something that could affect my rates?

Well, because I had to enter my policy # to actually talk to someone, a claim had somehow been entered anyway and that was why I got a call from a rep. He couldn’t tell me for sure about the premium as well, but at least gave me an indication it shouldn’t affect me. That’s better. At first he started talking about the deductible and other stuff that I’d have to consider paying right now and I told him I wasn’t paying a dime as the other driver caused it and would be taking care of it. The guy said he’d help me through the process and follow up with the other company to make sure things go smoothly. Now, while I didn’t file a claim, I did make Progressive do work by having this guy help, and who knows if that will affect my rates now.

American Family called me a few times to work out the process, and I got a quote for $1103.45 from Zimbrick’s body shop to fix the damage – replacing all three pieces of the rear bumper. AmFam said they needed to verify that number independently, and called me back saying they got Zimbrick to do it for $40 cheaper than originally quoted. Hurray for them. They also said they’d pay $26/day for a rental car, which should get me a “mid-size car.” Looking at Enterprise Rentacar’s site has me disbelieving I’ll be able to get one for that price, as most cars (even compact) are $35+/day.

At this point I’m awaiting an actual check from AmFam, and then I’ll take the car in. I was told the repair should only take a day, which is good. However, I’m having them fix that mysterious dent on the front of it that was also not caused by me. They quoted that at $500 for the repair, which included painting the panel and popping out the dent. That’s a little steep, so I told them they could try the $125 “paintless” repair and try to buff the scratch out. They’ll also be taking the car down the street to their VW dealership to have them look at my oddly functioning radio.

So it seems my car is cursed somehow. I’ve had it for just over three months and it has three things wrong with it. Let’s hope that’s all that all this stuff is problems that would have happened in the future but are working themselves out all at once right now so I don’t have to deal with them independently.

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