01 April, 2017

Almost Got A New Pair of Pants (and Shoes)

Monday, Denis, our neighbor from across the street, who with his wife Vivien, have been staying in our Mennonite house, myself, and Bella, our small dog, went to town to get some fried chicken from Ben's Chinese Fast Food. That's over on the north side of town by the Civic Center. It's located at the intersection of fourth Avenue and Fifth Street, North. I know those streets simply because we became intimately involved as you will see.

We pulled up at Ben's and there was a parking place open right in front of the store, so I grabbed it. That was important as I had a Pedigree Dog Food 55-lb sack full of dried coconuts for Karen and her mother. Karen is our cleaning lady, and I wanted to keep an eye on it while we were ordering our dinners.

I ordered two $9.00 chicken dinners, no-chop, which meant whole pieces, like a leg and a thigh, and not chopped into three or four smaller pieces. Denis ordered one $9.00 dinner.

Each $9.00 dinner has enough chicken and fries to easily serve two people. I like to order extra so I can take the remaining dinner, strip the chicken and make some sort of creative meal for the next day. Denis and Vivien were going to be returning to Canada soon, so they didn't want any leftovers in the Mennonite house fridge. Less cleanup.

We got our orders a short time later. We got back into the truck, and fastened our seat belts. I looked both ways up and down Fourth Avenue and proceeded to pull out to head across Fourth and east on Fifth Street North.

One problem. There was an older gentleman crossing Fourth on foot, heading south. When he got to the middle of the right-hand lane of Fourth, he stopped for some reason. Which meant I stopped, waiting for him to motate and get out of the way.

This is when everything went wrong. The other car, approaching on Fifth from the east, may or may not have stopped at the stop sign. In any case, that car began making a left turn onto fourth heading south.

Only trouble is, I was in the way. Contact was made at my left front fender and continued all the way down to the left rear wheel well, in the process knocking off some plastic trim pieces and dinging both doors, trim, and totally dislodging the outside adjustable rear view mirror, as well as bending down the running board so that it scraped on each speed bump.
Some New Modifications
My truck never moved. The other car ended up on Fourth, facing south, behind my truck.

I got out of the truck and was trying to figure out what had happened. The other vehicle driver, a woman, came over to me saying "I'm in so much trouble, I'm in so much trouble." She then asked if she could borrow my phone as she left hers where she came from. I loaned it to her.

About that time, a Police Corporal showed up and began taking charge of the scene as we were blocking Fifth Avenue pretty well. He asked if anyone was injured – we weren't. About then a pickup truck with four or five other officers showed up, and they began placing cones and interviewing myself and the other driver.

I tried to take a photo with my phone, but I couldn't see anything in the screen because of sun glare. About then, one of the officers asked if my truck was driveable. I said I didn't know, as I hadn't tried to move it. He said to try it and if you can, go to the station to complete a statement. Denis and I got in the truck and turned around north of the intersection on Fourth, turned west on Fifth Street, and headed to the station.

It took about fifteen or twenty minutes before a Woman Police Constable started to take my statement. It was a very slow process. It probably took a good hour or hour and a half to get the statement completed.

About that time a couple of officers began talking to me about if I wanted to accept any blame for the accident. I told them "absolutely not."

A little later, they began asking me if I was willing to accept and pay for my damages and the other driver would do the same. I wasn't too keen on the idea. It became apparent that neither driver accepted any blame, it was headed to court, where anything could happen.

A little more time transpired and a gentleman came in to talk to me. Turns out, he was the owner of the other car. The lady driver and her husband run a little windshield repair business and she was returning the owner's car to him after completing some repairs when the accident occurred.

Eventually, I came around, realizing the possibilities of the case going to court, and I agreed with the owner that each side would pay for their own damages and that would be the end of the case. He and I shook hands and came out of the interview room to let the other driver and her husband know what we had agreed to.

They didn't like that one bit and said they wanted to go to court in spite of our agreement. I said. "Fine. Let's go to court," and I returned to the interview room to await developments.

Pretty soon a Police officer came in and gave me a form, titled, Notice of Intended Prosecution, which let me know that the case was going to court. I would be informed later on when the first court date would be.

About that time, the police gave me the option of doing a urine sample or a blood sample (I'm assuming for drugs and alcohol). I chose blood. Two officers then escorted me to the hospital where I had to have two sample drawn. The doctor on duty, couldn't figure out how the drawing equipment worked so he had to have the head nurse take over and draw my blood. She did a very good stick.

One of the samples was going to be sent to Belmopan to the Police forensics lab. The other, they gave to me, saying I could take it to any lab and have the tests done on it. Sort of a control, I guess.

By now, we're back at the station. We were almost done when I remembered Denis was still in the truck with Bella. No one had said anything about a statement from him, so I asked. Yes, he should provide a statement as well. So, I went out and fetched him. His statement took about forty-five minutes to complete, and then we were done.

During this whole time at the station, I had been trying to call Dianna or Vivien to let them know we were OK, and that supper might be a tad late. I couldn't reach either one. Vivien was down at our house, and she had locked the Mennonite house behind her. She could hear her phone ringing. Dianna's phone never did ring. No idea what's wrong there.

Denis and I headed home, passing very slowly over the speed bumps because of the running board. We and the cold chicken pulled into our driveway a little past 7:30 PM, where we spent some time bringing the girls up to speed on our adventure.

Wednesday morning, following the accident, I took the truck up to Rick Magańa's, the mechanic, so he could, hopefully, bend back the running board, fix some of the trim and the rear view mirror. I took advantage of it being in the shop and told Rick to pull the broken A/C compressor. I planned to ask Carlos if he would take it over to Chetumal and see about getting it repaired.

Carlos finished work at 10:00 AM, here and took the compressor over to Chet. He was back by 4:15 PM or so.

Denis and Vivien left to return to Edmonton about 9:30 AM Wednesday. I used Denis' Trooper to go to INK as they're my RF&G Insurance agents, where I got a four-page insurance form to fill out describing the accident and attendant circumstances.

Around this time, I began to think about the implications of having to go to court. Besides the fact that, here in Belize, it's likely that the magistrate (the judge) for your case is likely to be a no-show more often than not. It's not unheard of for what seems to be a simple court case, to actually drag on for weeks or even months. It's not like I don't have other things to do on a daily basis.

One of the other things of concern is the court dress code. Long pants and shoes. Not to mention collared shirts. Well, I have collared shirts. They may be somewhat vibrant in color or pattern, but they have collars.

It's the pants thing. I don't own a pair of long pants. All I've worn for years is shorts. All of them custom-made by Alec the tailor, downtown Corozal. I'd probably have to go see him and have a pair of slacks made for my court date. If that date was like within a week, I'd be hard-pressed to get that done. Alec could probably do it, but that would mean a delay of his other customer's sewing projects.

That last statement is an inside joke. Alec has never in his life finished any project on exactly the day he said it would be ready. There's always a delay, but it's fun to have him tell you when it will be ready. Then you come down on that day, only to have him tell you ruefully, that it won't be ready then. Maybe by Friday. Sure.

But, then the next thing is shoes. They don't allow sandals, flip-flops, Crocs (or knock-offs), or any other casual footwear. Has to be shoes. Could be running shoes, dress shoes, or whatever, but shoes. I was thinking about my Keen sandals. Those are the closest thing to 'shoes' that I have. Even though they're worn out, having endured several thousand miles of walking since 2014 when I bought that pair. Maybe if I wore a pair of tan socks, they wouldn't notice. As luck would have it, all this worry about dressing up was for naught.

I realized I needed more information and walked over to the Police Records section to see about getting a copy of the Police report of the accident. Naturally, the computer was down at the Sub-Treasury office where I had to pay for the report (same place those of you paying your passport visa fees have to go), which meant I had to come back after lunch.

Back at the Records branch, the clerk informed me that it would be months before the report would come back from Belmopan. He suggested I go back to the Police station and ask for someone from Traffic and see if there was any way to get a quicker copy of the report. I did, and they told me I needed to speak with Assistant Superintendent Serano, but he wasn't coming back to the station till 5:00 PM. Back home. Barely.

Before I went downtown, I had put two gallons of water in Denis' Trooper. By the time I returned, the sounds coming from the engine compartment sounded like the radiator was boiling dry. No way was I going to attempt to drive it downtown again. So, I had to bum a ride from Carlos to go back down to the police station to see Superintendent Serano.

I found him around back talking with some other officers. As I approached, he asked what I needed. I told him I was there to see him about my case. He invited me into his office.

We talked about the case and actually got on the floor, playing with a couple of pens and other trinkets, simulating a repeat of the accident to clarify things. He told me the case was not going to court. That had been quashed, and that everything was OK. He congratulated me for agreeing to pay my own damages, and asked if I would mind dropping by his office on Thursday at 4:30 PM to meet with him and the other parties, to make sure everything is ironed out.

Thursday, 4:20 PM, I arrived at the Police station and asked to see Superintendent Serano. I was advised to have a seat and wait. I did just that before realizing I was thirsty. I quickly ducked out of the station and found one of the vegetable vendors at the market still open this late in the afternoon. She happened to have a store fridge with cold water bottles. Just what I was looking for.

Back at the station, it was a mad house. Change of shift. A young constable was sorting a cardboard box full of Glock handguns and soon began distributing those to the on-coming duty section. A couple minutes later, the lady who drove the vehicle that hit mine showed up and also took a seat. We said ‘Hi’ to each other and exchanged pleasantries about the hot weather.

About this time, the sergeant and corporal who dealt with the case the evening of the accident, asked us to come in to the interview room. He explained that Superintendent Serano had been called away and that he and the corporal had been directed to ensure the case had a satisfactory end for all parties concerned.

The sergeant asked if we both were still satisfied with each party tending to their own repairs and not going to court. We both answered that we were and we shook hands to seal the deal. It was interesting to me that her husband was nowhere to be seen. So, the sergeant went over briefly again what had transpired and our solution to the problem. Everyone was happy and relieved that it was over and done with. I shook hands with the two officers. We then left the station and went our separate ways.

And, I didn’t have to buy new pants. Or shoes.

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