Continuing from SICK AND HIGH
I was 2 months pregnant. Every day of work, I woke up feeling like I had the stomach flu, went to the gym, made myself a banana peanut butter protein shake and drove through the windy canyons to work, where pot fumes wafted through the hallways and I donned a paper mask and people thought I was a freak.
A romantic portrait of early pregnancy, but I was very happy.
One day, I arrived in the parking lot and drove around to a space close to the building. I parked and went in to work. Around 5pm, I was so exhausted and queasy. “Well, I think we are done today,” I said to my co workers.
“See you tomorrow,” Tim said, though he kept working.
I walked down the hallway and saw everyone busy with something.
I waved to Nancy who was on a phone call and I left the building.
I knew I wanted to tell Tim and Nancy about the pregnancy as soon as I could; not only would they be excited, but I needed them to understand why I never wanted to go out with them after work. It was unlike me to be so anti social.
It was late summer and 5pm looked light and felt warm. I pulled a little peanut butter and jelly sandwich out of my purse and took a bite, hoping my nausea would settle down till I could get home and into bed in about one hour.
As I walked to the parking lot, I saw a thin man with a lot of neck tattoos right by my car. He was holding a little piece of paper and writing something, as he looked at my old Honda.
Oh God, he was going to talk to me. I just wanted to go home.
“I’ve been waiting for you,” he called, when he saw me. “I’ve already gotten your parking permit number and your last name.” He pointed to the permit I had for work.
My heartbeat sped up. I’d seen him around the parking lot before… and avoided him.
“You hit my car!” he yelled. “And then you went off and didn’t leave a note, but luckily my co workers saw you!” He pointed to his sedan right next to mine. His teeth were crooked and he looked sunburned. He had that fearless, grew up on the streets look, that I’ve been sheltered from my whole life. I looked around the parking lot. We were alone.
My body began to tremble. I was terrified. I couldn’t think clearly. Did I hit him? I am sure if I had, I would have known it, and besides, in general, the lot was never full and why would I have parked directly to the left of another car, when I could have taken a spot in the clear? “I didn’t hit you,” I said shakily, but pretty confident.
“Don’t lie!” he snarled, “I was just on the phone with the police and they say you’d better give me your insurance information. I have witnesses who saw you.”
I clutched my barely protruding belly. My baby! I thought. My stomach was in knots and my body trembled. Was my prune sized baby going to be affected by my fear? Was the tattoo neck man going to make me miscarry? I took a few breaths, I had to stay calm.
I looked at the dent on his car that he was accusing me of making. It was just a scratch really. “I’m going to have to have the whole side removed to fix this,” he said.
I doubted this was true, even though I’m not so car savvy. But the point was, this man was making a huge deal out of this and clearly not going to give up.
“I really didn’t hit you, Sir,” I said. I only say “sir” when I’m really nervous, like when I get pulled over by a cop.
“Yes, you did. I have witnesses and look, there’s silver paint here on my car and you have scratches here on your car.” He pointed to my scratched bumper which I was pretty sure had been that way for years.
Could I have actually hit him? I was still betting on NO. “I couldn’t have hit you,” I said, pulsing with adrenaline. Your scratch is here,” I said showing him where his scratch hit my leg. “And my scratch is here,” I showed how my bumper hit my leg lower. As I looked at my scratch again I could swear he had picked at my bumper paint. The scratches looked bigger.
“I’m calling the police again,” he said. He was acting like this scratch was in his eyeball or something.
As he dialed the police, I got out my phone. My hands shook as tried to think of who I should call for help. Of course, I called Tim back at the office. “Hey,” I tried to stay quiet and composed, “I’m in the parking lot with a scary guy who says I hit his car, but I didn’t. He’s really scary.”
“OK,” Tim said quickly, “I’ll be right down.”
Tattoo neck man held his cell phone up in the air, “They say hit and run is a felony,” he shouted, not letting up, “So you’d better give me your insurance info now.”
“OK,” I said, “But I really didn’t hit you.
He handed me his cell phone, “Talk to the police, they will tell you if you drive away without giving me your information, it’s a felony.”
I took his cell phone. The police officer explained that I needed to give him my info even if I didn’t hit him.
I gave him back his phone and wishing for some purell for my hand and ear.
I searched my bag for a pen and scrap of paper and fumbled for my insurance. Again, my hand was trembling so much I could barely write.
Just then, I saw, as if in slow motion, my super heroes striding across the lot; Tim, Nancy, the whole casting office, the line producer, the managing producer, the writers and even the building manager who wouldn’t tell the pot smoking tenants to not smoke inside.
I was about to cry with relief. Tattoo neck man’s face remained stone. He was good.
In the next few minutes, my co workers took over; asking TNM (tattoo neck man) specifically who saw me hit the car and at what time. They made him give me his insurance information too and they pulled out a tape measure and showed TNM how my car could not possibly have made the scratch.
Soon, TNM walked away, saying “I’m calling your insurance company tonight.” He never gave up his accusation that I had hit him, even though his scratch was at least three inches higher than my scratch.
The line producer shook his head, “I’ll bet he’s in cahoots with some body shop guy who gives a high estimate for a scratch that’s already there.”
That made more sense than TNM just being wrong.
As much as I love being solo, there’s nothing like that feeling of being protected by your partner – knowing they always have your back… except, I can’t really say that any of my past boyfriends have made me feel like my friends did that day. I’ve never really had a boyfriend who would defend me or stand up for me like that.
Having that group of people, from close friends to almost strangers, stand up for me and take care of me was a wonderful feeling.
As I drove home, I thought about how scary the world could be and how I wanted to make sure my baby always felt safe.
P.S. Tattoo neck man never called my insurance company. I guess he knew I had these photos… I’m glad I had them for this story!