Of Life, Limbs and Logic

There’s a fine limbo line between control and acquiescence. I’m walking it with the insurance company of late. Half the time, I have no idea where the safety zone is, what ground I’m standing upon, or if it’s all a grand conspiracy or karmic payback for that time I rammed that unknowing jerkola from behind on the bumper cars in the amusement park. It was funny at the time, or so I thought.

Long, incredibly boring story short, they’ve decided to write-off our Odyssey as a total loss, for reasons having to do with the damages being worth more than 70% of what they deem the value of it to be.

But to be or not to be, that is the question. Safeco's (a misnomer if ever there was one) market comparables and mine don’t at all match. For instance, our Honda-installed trailer hitch, was $1,500.00. They chalk that up to a $77.00 additional value. Can you say, does not compute?

Our vehicle (long incredibly boring story longer here), apart from a couple of fine tooth comb scratches, was still in mint condition after all these years. The original carpet inside had never been exposed to wear and tear – the previous owner had custom carpet laid down inside such that it would always maintain a pristine condition. And we had religiously babied it with Honda servicing this past decade at monthly intervals. But that’s all blah blah blather to the insurance company. On paper, it’s worth a fraction of what we would have sold it for. And in reality, it’s just about the right size for the friendly neighbourhood junkyard dog now.

In any event, we’re now going between the two insurance companies in order to see whether our insurance company will designate a higher value. I don’t honestly expect them to – but part of that control thing is exhausting every avenue, how ever thin and tenuous.

So it appears we are now car shopping, which is an activity that ranks right up there with many other of my least favourite things to do, including but not limited to walking on hot coals. I’ve decided my minivan days are done, but only marginally because we’re now looking – in this day and age of anti-SUV – at a Honda Pilot. It seats 8 and pulls the trailer and is equally as gas gluttonous as its Odysseyian cousin, so it's a bit of a stalemate.

But what do you do? Bite the hand that supposedly feeds you – if near starvation might stand in for nourishment for a moment? Or do you feed the greedy system of oil companies, vehicle manufacturers, insurance companies and the like? It’s not merely a philosophical question: it’s the quintessential, middle-aged conundrum. You want to answer, screw them all, I’m outta here. This system ist sehr farocht and I want no part of it.

But owing to your city dweller status, you’re so entangled in the system, you couldn’t find your way out of the maze even if you were channeling a now grown-up Hansel and Gretel. Or so you think.

You want to think it’s all teleological when, in fact, the whole house of cards schema is ideological, which must and should always be confused with idiotlogical.

But still you hum and sing, because somewhere, somehow, someone told you there is a rhyme and there is a cadence to the entire affair. This is the vehicle that pulls the trailer, that becomes the house on camping escapes, that then parks in the garage like a giant square shape, which is adjacent to the door, of the house the Schmidts built.

Now if you’re a mathematician, you might, at this point, whip out your calculator in order to compute the number of times said trailer leaves said garage in a given year and then run some kind of impressive quadratic equation that factors in the cost of daily driving of said vehicle versus renting same said vehicle for three weekends a year instead. But you’re not, so you don’t.

Instead, you continue to sing, even though this, too, is not your strong suit. For this is the vehicle that hauls the kids all gloomy and glummy, to school and the pool, and then to dance, Scouts and sports with their chummy chum chummies, and gives them each space with a pillow and quilt, for long haul trips away from the house the Schmidts built.

Yes, those rare yet coveted trips away from the house. That’s what it’s all about. There is no price you dare put on the slim to nil escapes from the rat cage wheel of life. And so, you do your own simple balance sheet in your head, which is just like the kind you did on your college accounting exams (which is to say it never does ever balance, darnitalltohell, screw being a Certified Management Accountant – that’s a dumb career choice anyways and who wants to be pot bellied number cruncher in their 30s talking about financial statements at parties and sitting in a back room cubicle with a pocket protector?) And so, as then so now, you fudge the numbers, shed a tear or three in frustration at the ineffability of it all, and call it an even Stephen.

And then you paste a smile on your face and say things like, I’m just grateful we were all OK and not seriously injured (well OK, except that you're now sorely tempted to "give your right arm" for some coveted thing, because it's feeling pretty useless these days anyways). Or, I’m so glad the other guy had insurance ~ Thank! God! for that. Or, I’m glad we were able to salvage at least a week of getaway in our summer. Authentic statements, all of them, for you really do bow down to the god of vehicular collisions with respect to these things.

And then a big sigh builds up within you and you get all stoic and bodhisattva – a syncretism not entirely implausible given Alexander the Great’s oriental camel express train east way back in the day – but somewhere in that space between stoicism and Vibhajjavāda, you yield to a deep-seated jealousy that Alexander managed to eek out a helluva lot more than a week’s all-expense-paid getaway and to a far more exotic locale than a $27.00 dollar a night cabin on Camano Island.
But alas, when you are finally able to strike a yogic pose for a moment on account of your inability to breathe lately - and as you ponder the nature of all things – love, pain, the whole damn thing - in the best Texas twang and Scarlet O’Haran pose you can muster, such as whether meaning is (a) a priori; (b) a posteriori; (c) a freakin' pain in the posteriori or (d) all of the above ~ then and only then does momentary enlightenment come to you, such that you begin to spout the impermanence of all things ~ even, especially, vehicles. Which at a purely organic level, is just matter. And matter does not matter. But then you think to yourself, even your 11 year old son knows that positive one minus negative one equals two. Which might then mean that it doubly matters. And that spells double trouble, given that you come from a long line of worriers from way back. Well three lines actually, if you consider the not so small matters of marriage and adoption. All of which begins to make your head hurt, which then has you reading the fine print on the medical insurance forms the other insurance company sent you (paperwork that when subjected to purple infrared strobe lights, sports Please Do Not Sue! between the lines of the size 2 font text) to see if perhaps they'll cover headaches and brain strain. For it's all rather exhausting, all this meaning-making business, and it only serves to add to your lethargic laze of late, especially when you consider the anthropomorphism of the rain these past few days. Coincidence? You think not. The skies, they are a crying and that's not just a pathetic fallacy, it's real. Or is it? You no longer ascertain the acute differences between reality, unreality and surreality.

But you know it's pathetic, for you ken this in your bones. Most specifically, your clavicle, scapula, humerus, radius, ulna, scaphoid, lunate, triquetrum, pisiform, trapezium, trapezoid, capitate, hamate, metacarpal and phalange bones. So then you revert back to the old-school philosophy you used to spout in a hashish haze – life’s a bitch, and then you die. But your mind has been so addled lately that even in this, doubt plagues you. What if that’s wrong? What if you've transposed the logic? Maybe it's supposed to be, life’s a die (and boy did you roll a schmidty number), and then you bitch. And you realize you're onto something. Some little nugget of truth that at last, and at very least, you can latch onto. Because at least there, in that small place of lame life, limb and logic, you have a place upon which to stand.


Natalie said...

Hmmm... Kelly Blue Book and a good lawyer. I know, I know, that lawyer will cost as much as you could potentially get back from the insurance place. Or not. They do have an incredible way of making personal injury totally... um... personal and debilitating and cost effective.

Sucks the way this world goes 'round.

When my car was stolen and then wrecked, my insurance co. tried to give me half of what I thought it was worth. Long (and boring, no doubt) story short... I had a lawyer friend of mine simply draft a letter. That did the trick!
Suddenly, my vehicle had actual value!
I dunno... it seemed somewhat dishonest but I could justify it 'cause I was dealing with a freakin' insurance company that had been making money off of me, for YEARS, and I'd never cost them one red cent.


Good luck with that!

Holy said...

Nat: Well I wish I had a lawyer friend.

And I see why some people do all possible screw the sytem - the 18 year old kid that hit me walks away, scratch and virtually dent free - his insurance rates go up, sure, but mom and pop are footing his bill. And they're not out thousands of dollars with having to buy a new vehicle.

To which the snotty nosed insurance rep retorts in her Mithith Hawiggenth voice to me, "Ma'am? Ma'am? Lithen to me, I'm talking here. No one thettth out to deliberately cauthe an accthident." As though she's possessor of the goodgoddamn biggest secret to the universe.

OK, deep breath. That's the entire problem with systems that designates victims and perps - I don't want to play victim, thank you very much. Been there, done that, writing the book. I simply wish to get out with a fair and equitable disbursement and with my integrity intact. But the system seems to fairly beg that you check your integrity at the door.

Ah well, chock it up to yet another schmidt happening.

Jeri said...

Wow - that is such a sad story. Because I'd imagine that like most of us, you're not at all interested in the hassle or the ethical/moral implications of litigation which can seem awfully extreme and even frivolous. But still - it seems sometimes like corporate bad behavior can drive the average person to that extreme! Ugh.

I'm sorry you're having to deal with this, what a pain.

I'd be tempted to respond to your insurance adjuster, "No one sets out to deliberately defraud a paying customer either..." but escalation is usually a really bad tactic. };>

I wish you the best!

Holy said...

Jeri: yeah, litigation is not for me...but I see how the system fairly begs it. I think we may have some resolution on the horizon early next week with our insurance company - although the irony is that his insurance company would now have to pay that plus the $1000 deductible - why not have just offered me something fair to start with and save themselves the $1000? Makes.No.Sense.

Ah well......schmidt happens.

Anonymous said...

You're frustrated.
I can tell.
Sending good chi your way... until this ordeal is DONE!!!

I think when we meet - there will be alcohol involved... just no driving!!! We both can use a few bevies after its all said and done... dontcha think?


Becca said...


Man, I don't read you for awhile and look at all the fun you have! Kidding! Fight for what you deserve! I hope that this gets straightened out soon and in a good way for you and yours!

One day I want to have that drink with you too!