Many years ago I was driving along the access road to the side of Florence Blvd near Lauderdale Lanes bowling alley. My wife was in the passenger seat. For those of you who are familiar with this area, you will remember that there used to be a K-mart in the building behind the bowling alley and a La Fonda Mexicana restaurant in a building just across the K-mart entrance from the bowling alley. At that time the access road consisted of two lanes both going one-way east. If you were planning to turn left at the K-mart entrance to intersect with Florence Blvd, you were supposed to be in the left lane. However, that made for a very sharp turn that would usually land you in a cockeyed position if the light was red. So, since the rule is that rules are meant to be broken, I would normally turn left from the right-hand lane. I did this many times, as did others, since there was very little traffic along that access road. However, I found out one evening that that was not always true.
I stopped at the K-mart entrance as usual and checked for cars turning into the entrance. There were none. So I pulled out and began to turn left. I was immediately hit on my driver’s side by another vehicle that had pulled up in the left lane. At first I was thinking, “What the heck? Why is someone trying to pass me on an access road? But then I realized that it was me who had messed up. I had turned left from a right-hand lane. I guess I could have argued that I had done it that way many times before, but in my gut I didn’t think that would hold up in court.
Anyway, I got out of the car and was greeted by a semi-hysterical female teenager. Apparently she had never been in an accident before so was very distraught. She kept saying, “I thought I had the right-away. I thought I had the right-away.” I assured her that she did indeed have the right-away and it was all my fault. Nowadays they tell you not to admit any guilt when you have an accident, but back then I just thought it best to be honest. I knew it was my fault and admitted as much. Hey, with the way the teenager was going on, I might have admitted guilt even if it wasn’t my fault just to get her to calm down.
The girl finally settled down after my admission began to sink in, but then another problem arose. She saw someone she knew driving past us and became extremely embarrassed. She kept saying things like, “Oh my god, my friends are going to find out about this. They’ll think it was my fault. I’m so embarrassed.” I kept telling her that she could explain it all to them later, but that didn’t seem to alleviate her anxiety. And it didn’t help any when the police showed up to take our report. Those flashing lights were just drawing more attention to her situation as far as she was concerned.
Finally, the reports were complete and we were allowed to leave. My insurance took care of everything, and I never saw the girl again. But a lesson can be drawn from this incident. If you are easily embarrassed by situations like these, be sure to carry with you at all times a sign that reads, “IT WASN’T MY FAULT!” Attach a string to it so you can hang it around your neck while the police take their reports. Then you won’t have to explain it all to your friends later.