I was at a late lunch meeting today when my phone rang. I looked down; it was Shawna calling.
We have a standing agreement that if she calls and I happen to be in a meeting, I'll ignore the call. If it's something that requires immediate attention, she'll call right back.
That's my signal to excuse myself to use the restroom, and answer the phone.
I didn't answer, and she didn't call back; I made a mental note to call her back after my meeting.
An hour later or so, I was standing in the restaurant parking lot talking with one of my lunch mates, when she called again.
I answered. "Hey, can I give you a call back in a bit?"
"I got in a wreck."
I paused. "What?" I asked.
"I was in a car accident," she said, very matter-of-fact.
I laughed. "Yeah, right. Listen, I'll call you back in just a few, OK?"
"PJ: I'm serious. I was in a wreck, just a little bit ago."
I stopped. "Are you serious?!?!"
"Oh my goodness! I'm SO sorry! Are you guys OK? Did you get hurt? Is Bubs OK? Did you already have Lex from school? Whose fault--"
"PJ! Stop! We're fine. We're both fine; nobody is hurt. The car is damaged, but it's reparable. We're waiting on the highway patrol to get here."
I was amazed; she was so calm and collected. That doesn't come natural to Shawna when it comes to car accidents (I've had my share; I know).
"Did a guy back into you in a parking lot or something? You're so calm. Was it just a little scrape or something?" I asked her.
"No," she replied. "I was stopped at a stop sign; I started to go across, and suddenly this truck came out of nowhere from my left and drove right up on my hood. It scared Gentry. But we're fine."
But I'm angry. Not at Shawna; it appears as though it was the other guys' fault. It looks like he might have blown the stop sign (he was going pretty fast based on the damage). I'm angry at the other driver. He didn't speak English, but he made it pretty clear to Shawna right after the accident that he was STRONGLY opposed to her calling the highway patrol.
He came over to her car and started waving his arms and yelling in Spanish. Shawna said she wasn't sure what he was saying; what she heard was "lock your doors and pray for someone to stop".
Someone did. A group of three or four bronc-busting cowboy lookin' types in a lifted pickup stopped and played bodyguard. A good thing too, because a few minutes later a whole passel of the other guy's family showed up and, en masse, started to berate Shawna and her merry band of cowboys, telling her that her car, "isn't even messed up," and that the cops weren't necessary because they, "would drive their car like that!"
As it turns out, they had good reason to push her into driving away and forgetting the whole incident. The driver was an unlicensed illegal, driving what appears to have been one of the family members' un-insured truck.
The highway patrolman told Shawna that he is supposed to cite, and possibly even arrest, unlicensed drivers, and impound their vehicle. But since he's illegal, and they have no way of determining his true identity, he'd probably just be let go (they did impound the vehicle; it's not worth the $300 or so the impound lot will want to release it).
I'm flummoxed: what's the downside to living here illegally? You can't even be held responsible for illegal acts if you're illegal, because we don't have any way of knowing who you are! So you walk!
I'm not going to launch into the tirade because, truth be told, I'm not one of those ultra-principled extremists that rest on unbending (and often, unwieldy, principle), and utterly abhor pragmatism. I'm just upset that it's going to cost me MORE now, because I have insurance, and I have a license, and a Social Security number, and registration.
I did all those things that you're supposed to do, and I've NEVER complained about them (OK; I have complained about the cost of registration and insurance). But I've been willing to pay those dues because they were in trade for a whole slough of rights and freedoms; rights and freedoms that I ASSUMED were extended only to those who were contributing members of society.
It appears now, though, as if you're BETTER OFF not doing those things. You're not punished, and you have virtually ALL the same benefits that come along with citizenship.
It just cheapens the liberty that we share. It shouldn't come free; we should each pay a price for that freedom. To avoid the price, but still take full advantage of the benefits of that freedom is simple thievery. And to ALLOW that thievery is...just...wrong.
That said, I'm considering hiding my license and Social Security card and drivers' license under my bed, and speaking some other language any time around others; it sure does pay!