How did this happen?

| Sophie has a big boo-boo on the left front side, just above the wheel. This may have happened:

I'm not making this up. Here's the facts, ma'am, just the facts.

pickup truck
Pool cleaner's pickup truck

On Friday I went to the bank to take care of some homeowner's association business and parked in the garage behind the bank. When I was finished, I got in my car and turned left into the street to pick up a few things at the supermarket. The light was red and I joined a line of vehicles waiting for it to turn green, just behind a white pickup truck with a pool cleaning contraption hanging off the rear of the truck. The line was quite long, reaching almost to the exit from the garage, and Sophie was still slightly angled in the lane. Suddenly, the white pickup truck began backing up for no apparent reason, maneuvering as if to pull out of the line of vehicles. I blew my horn, but it was too late. The truck hit Sophie with a jolt and a slight flexing-of-metal sound. At that moment, the light turned green and all the vehicles began moving, including the white pickup truck that had backed into me. Unsure if Sophie had sustained any damage or not, I decided to follow the pickup truck to get the license plate number, just in case. Then I remembered that my cell phone has a camera, so I also snapped a picture of the truck, then proceeded to the supermarket.

As soon as I parked the car in the lot at the market, I got out and immediately went to the front of the car to inspect for damage. Seeing none, I was greatly relieved and proceeded into the store to do my shopping.

Sophie's dent
Sophie's boo-boo

When I came out of the store, there was no longer a vehicle parked alongside Sophie, and I then noticed a big dent in the fender above the left front wheel. The paint scraping in the dent was white, the pickup truck that had hit me earlier was also white, so my mind immediately associated the two and I began to work out a scenario in which a vehicle in front of me could make a dent in the side of my car. With just the right angles, I decided, it could happen. In that case, I told myself, I must have been so focused on the front of the car when I got out to check for damage that I simply failed to notice the side. It could happen; people tend to see what they expect to see.

1-crash scenario
1-crash scenario — Possible? maybe; Likely? not so much

Saturday morning I went to the police station to file an accident report, ready with pictures of Sophie's big boo-boo and the white pickup truck. The officer who took my report listened politely then asked to look at the car. "If you say the pickup truck hit you, I have to believe that it hit you," said the officer, "but the pickup truck didn't cause this dent on the side of the car." He explained further that, based on the appearance of the paint scrapings in the dent, it looked to him like the impact that made the dent was from the rear, not the front. Since I had not noticed the dent before going in the store, he concluded that Sophie suffered the dent while I was in the store. He would have to consult with "the traffic guys" who are more expert at interpreting paint scrapings.

So, which do you want to believe? The unlikely possibility that the pickup truck was angled in such a way that the wheels of the pool cleaning device could hit the front of my car while the rear corner of the truck itself could hit the side of the car, or the also unlikely possibility that I was hit twice on the same day within a half-hour timeframe by two separate vehicles, both of which happened to be white?

Last updated on Apr 13, 2018



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