By this point, we all know I'm a bad driver. My friends elect to sit in the backseat when I'm behind the wheel to avoid motion sickness. At least I'm not one of those bad drivers who is blind to my ways and boasts of my skills. I readily let anyone else drive (as long as you drive above the speed limit; ain't no one got time for that).
Just tonight, I picked up my friend for dinner. I rarely drive my car, and I last left it parked under a tree. Turns out, the tree rained sap on my car for forty hours and forty nights. Driving to my friend's apartment, I texted and asked her to bring out a wet paper towel to wipe down my windshield (my wipers kept getting stuck in the sap to the point where I had to stop my car and un-stick them).
Hand washing my windshield didn't make my view much better. After dinner, the sun had set, and we found the reflections too much for me to safely navigate us home. My friend volunteered to pay for the car wash. (Don't worry, I Venmo'd her afterward.)
Again, the point of all this is, I am a bad driver. But you think my destruction and terror would end there. If I'm not behind the wheel, then I can't do much harm. Right?
Several weekends ago, I bussed up to New York to stay with some friends. On the second night of my stay in Brooklyn, my friends and I went out for drinks. We ended up at a bar on a boat, or at least we tried to, but we arrived too late. So much for the city that never sleeps.
Instead of finding another bar, we ended up in McDonald's and there were no regrets to be found (at that point). Afterward, three of us Ubered back to my friend's apartment.
On the way, I explicitly remember thinking about how I just wanted to peel my contacts out of my eyes and plop into bed when we arrived. I wouldn't even shower.
The Uber - a sleek, white sedan (I'm not a car person, so I can't expand much further on that description) - pulled up outside my friend's apartment building. The driver put on his blinkers as we prepared to get out. This was a one-lane, one-way road. But that said, another car could sneak past.
Yes, you see it coming.
I only partially opened my passenger door before I found the door snatched from my grip and wrenched back, nearly ripped from the car as a taxi van catapulted past and took my door on its journey.
My friend from the back seat echoed, "Oh my God, what was that?"
The door had been dragged nearly off the car, bent all the way to the front and still clipped to the taxi van, which had rolled to a stop. The taxi's front tire had popped. I'm not sure if the collision or the popped tire was the cause of his stop.
I continued staring and considered if we could go back three seconds in time.
Flashback to a month before: my friend told me how her boyfriend had been parallel parked and open his driver's door. Another car hit the door - similar to the situation I now found myself in. Her boyfriend ultimately got the ticket.
Back to the present: our driver removed himself from the car, hands over his face, and began pacing the sidewalk, visibly agitated.
"What did you do?" my friend whispered. "I need the keys to the apartment. I have to use the bathroom. I have such anxiety."
I slowly stood up outside the vehicle and assessed how I stood surrounded by the Uber, the Uber's amputated door, and the maimed taxi van.
"Oh (probably a curse word)," I said.
Was this my fault?
Well, I did open the door.
Had I looked before I got out? Well, it was a one lane road. It was one way. I was buzzed.
The Uber driver paced. The taxi driver looked furious. I hurried to the sidewalk where my other friend remained (the one who hadn't fled to the bathroom).
"What do I do?" I asked. "Do I call the cops? What is the non-emergency number in Brooklyn?"
"You broke the Uber," my friend replied.
That I did, but that is not addressing the situation.
I Googled the non-emergency number in Brooklyn. Mind you, it is 3 am in New York. I heard the taxi driver also on the phone with the cops.
And then we waited. I didn't speak to the other drivers aka the Uber driver and the taxi driver. I didn't want to incriminate myself. I also Googled if I was covered under Uber's liability insurance. I couldn't tell from the Internet forums.
But this was the taxi's fault, right? Wasn't this a one lane road? We had our blinkers on. Yes, they were still blinking.
I asked my friend, "This is a one lane, right?"
"Yeah," she said.
We watched as other cars aka taxis tried to get past our wreckage. Some good Samaritans put up traffic cones to block cars from coming down the road, but New York taxis are aggressive and have places to be. For some reason they thought this mess would vanish if they just honked their horns and waited long enough. They didn't seem to recognize that this Uber could not drive away. Its door was wielded to the taxi van, which had a flat tire.
How did this happen? I internally pondered. I'm always looking for a story (for this blog), but jeez, this? This is expensive.
The cops finally arrived. Seven of them. I took note that if I was ever being murdered in Brooklyn, then I shouldn't rely on the local police. They'd be there by the time my blood pooled.
An officer asked me if I had been a witness. Yes, I witnessed the door get pulled off the car.
Me: "Um, I was the passenger who opened the door." I am the guilty party.
Cop: "So you're a witness."
Me: "I am." And nothing more.
They took my information. At this point, the drivers also had begun to talk to me. I gave them my name and number, and they gave me theirs. I considered starting a group chat in the morning: "So about last night...lol."
The taxi driver did not improve the situation when he announced, "This sucks, honestly. This is our job. But I'm just gonna throw a tire on, and I'll drop the van off in the shop Monday. But, man, he's out of work for the weekend, maybe the week. That's his car. For some of us, this is our livelihood."
Please stop pointing that out, I thought.
In my friend's apartment, we debriefed. My phone waited asking for what rating I should give my Uber driver. "Like, do I give him five stars? He did handle the situation well? I can't blame him for me breaking his car? But do you think he'll give me five stars? Oh my gosh, no one is going to accept my rides anymore. I'm going to have one star. This is the worst. Also, do I tell Uber this happened?"
By dawn, when I awoke, Uber had already emailed me - and reimbursed me for my $5 ride. How nice. I felt good that I had given the driver five stars. Maybe they wouldn't count that ride's rating in my overall score.
This past week, my friends sat at a bar comparing our Uber ratings. One of us knew how to actually view them, so we pulled them up.
"What's yours?" someone asked me. "You broke an Uber. It has to be super low."
Everyone, it was 4.94. I had the highest rating at the table. I'm sort of offended I don't have a 5. Then again, I broke an Uber.