Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The accident

A couple of weeks ago a few minutes after I had learned about the
benzine crisis I was driving around in Gyumri with the kids after
church (Jonelle was home with a bad headache), I had a long list of
things to pick up from town and was trying to make sense of the
situation, when I saw the calling card I was looking for in the window
of a street side stand. I had just entered a wide round about and was
maybe in the middle when I darted over the right to stop. The car
behind me honked and then they pulled over in front of me. I jumped
out to get the calling card while the angry driver was coming towards
me. I had seen plenty of accidents in Armenia and knew that a large
argument usually follows, but I didn't know it happened for near
misses. As I got my card the man tore into me, "why aren't you
looking where you are going, we almost had a bad accident." My reply
was you are right, it was my fault, I am sorry. This is a very
uncommon response here and not knowing how to handle it he tore into
me again. I explained the situation, apologized again and admitted
that it was my error. With sevral more warnings the man left me and
we were back about our business. The funny thing about this story is
that two weeks later I had stopped into a store in Vananadzor (East of
our village, 60 miles from Gyumri) for an ice cream bar and it just so
happened that the store owner was the same man who I nearly ran into.
We rehashed the same conversation, he again gave me more warnings, but
a least this time he asked what I was doing in Armenia and we had a
little nicer conversation. Armenia is a small country, but in the
seven months we have been here I have only recognized four people
while I have been out and about, this was a very strange meeting.
Fast forward to yesterday, I was in Yerevan to take care of a few
things and was headed to say hi to my relatives before I headed back
to the village. I was in a standard bumper to bumper traffic jamb in
the city when all of the cars in front of me slammed on their brakes.
I did to and nearly missed the car in front of me by inches, and as I
listened for the car behind me to stop also, I heard very little
breaks and and then a crash! Jolted nearly into the car in front of
me, I held my spot and then pulled over to the side to hash out the
situation. Again angry driver yelling at me, we argued about the
situation, and he claimed my break lights didn't work, and that we
should go right then to a body shop and get the car fixed. Although
they in fact did work but were weak from a low battery and bad
alternator. I know that the law is the same in Armenia, as in the US,
the person who hits from behind is as fault, usually for not keeping
enough distance. I called my cousin and he came over to help, but the
man continued to insist that I pay for the damages, then he called the
police over to help settle the situation. This took about half an
hour to get a police officer to the scene (where are they when you
need them?), and we went through the whole thing one more time. The
man continued to insist he was right so the road police called an
expert to measure skid marks and determine who was at fault.
While we were waiting my cousin left to take care of his business,
and the other guys off duty police officer friend also came to the
scene. Left alone in an unbalanced situation, but pretty sure I was
not at fault I waited to see what the expert would say. After a few
words with the man that I was not privileged to hear, I heard
something about him having to pay at least 20,000 drams ($65) to even
have the guy measure the scene. Finally, understanding the situation,
the man backed off, the expert officer asked if I had any problems, I
said "no" even though my cousin wanted me to have them get a new rear
bumper for the Niva (that showed little to no signs of an accident).
So after over an hour of waiting and arguing, I was finally able to
leave in peace, glad that the law prevailed despite what connections
one might have. In conjunction with many other experiences here this
is not a country where one admits their fault very easily.

1 comment:

Kasey said...

Glad to hear that God worked it all out with your accident. I pray that you might be able to reach the man that works at the store in Vananadzor. Your attitude spoke to my heart, and I am sure to his also.

May God richly bless you and your dear family.