“Your lack of concern concerns me.” — Shirley, my boss

A few months ago, my co-worker and I stopped at the nearby Speedway gas station for pop (soda, whatever) after picking up the office lunch.┬áThis is a store I go into three or four times a week to buy beverages, chips, and whatever else we may need that day. They know me by name, I feel safe in there, we help one another out when the occasion arises. It was noon, and the place was jumping so imagine my surprise when some asshat broke my driver’s side window and stole the office lunch order.

This isn’t the first time this year something has happened to my car. In February, while Meagan and I were in Chicago, my car was towed for unauthorized parking in a private lot. At first I was furious because I thought the car had been illegally towed. When I called the number on the towing sign and they told me they didn’t have my car, I calmed down considerably thinking my car had been stolen. I proceeded to hail a cab, hustled Meagan and myself into it, and continued on to the northwest corner of Chicago to meet my friend Kony for dinner. After dinner had ended, Kony convinced me to try the towing company again before calling the police to report my stolen car. And sure enough, the asshats had towed my car. Long story short, the online site I had used for reduced, prepaid parking didn’t know the lot had changed owners, and I was none the wiser as the signage matched everything I had on the parking pass. Then the morons running the towing company had screwed up the first time I called to check if they had my car because I had incorrectly asked if they had towed my car that day instead of the previous day. Apparently, my license plate number, car description, Michigan plates and a big giant “D” stuck to my bumper made it just like any other car in the lot, but WHOA! I didn’t ask them if they’d perhaps towed it the day before and that’s why they didn’t think they had it.

Meagan was just in awe of how calm I was though when I thought the car had been stolen, and how angry I was when I found it hadn’t been stolen, merely towed. But truthfully, if you’ve ever dealt with Chicago towing companies, you know I was justified in my anger.

And Shirley, my boss, was amazed at my lack of concern over my car window situation. I had it reported and replaced less than 24 hours after it happened. What was there to be concerned about?

It’s not that I don’t give a damn about my car. It’s in good repair, most of the time I keep a decent amount of gas in it, and I have it washed and vacuumed about every six weeks. Neatness in my car isn’t always relevant, but I respect my car and for the most part, it respects me. Only twice have I ever had major problems with it. Once when a small critter (chipmunk most likely) chewed through my wire harness and disconnected every cable but one from my gas pedal, thereby making it impossible to drive more than 10 mph, and the second time it wouldn’t start because the battery was dead. All in all, it’s a good, reliable car.

But it’s just a car.

My mom had a tree fall on her garage shortly after my car incident when a storm blew through. It wasn’t crushed, there was nothing of real value in the garage to begin with, and just a few spots of the roof had splintered. Was it leaking? Yes. Was it in need of repair? Yes. Did it cause severe damage? No.

And then there’s my cat, who fried my laptop the weekend before the 4th of July when he spilled a full glass of water on it, frying my motherboard in the process.

These reasons, and so many, many more, are why we have car insurance. Home owners insurance. Accidental damage warranties (though I had to shell out $150 for a new motherboard and touchpad, the only two items not covered under the warranty).

They are materialistic things. Things that can be easily replaced, though admittedly, some things are more costly than others. And yes, I do lose my shit when things go horribly wrong.

I about lost my shit on Dell when my power source went out on my desktop and I lost just about everything on my computer, including photos from Michael’s graduation from boot camp and Meagan’s prom and high school graduation. I freaked out one time at Kinko’s after they placed my one and only CD on a magnetic pad. The one and only CD of sample projects I needed for interviews and portfolios after I lost my job. Literally months worth of work, gone in five minutes because of one idiot’s mistake. Irreplaceable things.


And I’ve learned important lessons from these things. First and foremost… back that shit up (though I’m the first to admit that I’m horrendous about backing things up). Secondly… they’re just that. Things.

Perhaps I learned my lackadaisical attitude towards belongings from my parents. When I had my first car accident, the first thing my parents asked was, “Are you okay?” and the second question was, “Is the other driver okay?” What happened to the car was a very distant third question. This had a very lasting effect on me, as evidenced when I got rear-ended in Chicago. After assessing myself to make sure I was okay (no questions there, I was fine), I got out of my car and, without even looking at my car, I walked directly to driver of the vehicle that had just hit me and asked, “Are you okay?,” which I immediately followed up with, “Is she okay?” in reference to his passenger.

“We’re fine,” the driver said, obviously shaken.

“Then we’re okay,” I smiled.

“But I hit you…. With my car…” he stammered.

“Do you have insurance?” I asked.


“Then we’re okay,” I repeated.

Apparently, my laid-back attitude made an impression. A few days after the accident, the driver’s insurance agent called me. After discussing how much damage had been done, were we insured, etc., the agent said, “I also want to thank you. That was my client’s first accident and he said you couldn’t have been nicer about it. It really calmed him down and impressed him that you were more concerned about him and his fiance than you were about the cars.”

“Well, you can thank my parents for that,” I replied.

It was, after all, just a car. Sure, there’d been some major damage caused, and the body had shifted on the chassis, but all in all, to quote my parents, “that’s what insurance is for.”

You can fix damaged vehicles for the cost of your deductible. You can replace the window some asshole breaks in order to steal your lunch.

But you can’t replace people. And as I’ve unfortunately learned from the past, you can’t replace the photos on your hard drive if it crashes or if the power supply goes up in smoke.

So back that shit up.

Digressing. Again. Whatever.

But a few days after my window was busted out, I was in my boss’ office discussing work things and she suddenly asked, “You got everything taken care of with your window, right? It’s all fixed, it doesn’t leak?”

“Oh yeah,” I assured her, “I got that taken care of the day after it happened.”

She looked at me for a moment. “You seem very unconcerned about the whole thing, you know that right?”

“It’s a car, Shirley.”

“Your lack of concern concerns me,” she replied.

I shrugged my shoulders. “Meh. That’s what insurance is for.”



  1. Wendy says

    Good reminder. When some type of accident occurs in my life the first words that pop out of my mouth (after I find no one is hurt)are usually, “Oh great, how much is this going to cost!” That’s probably because that’s what I heard a lot growing up. My dad didn’t make much money and my mom didn’t work so additional expenses were upsetting. Another reason I guess I focus on the cost of things so much is because… well…, my husband likes to spend, while I prefer to live within a budget. You’re right, though, people are more important than things. Very good reminder.

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