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Kymberlie Ingalls is native to the Bay Area in California. She is a pioneer in blogging, having self-published online since 1997. Her style is loose, experimental, and a journey in stream of consciousness. Works include personal essay, prose, short fictional stories, and a memoir in progress. Thank you for taking a moment of your time to visit. Beware of the occasional falling opinions. For editing services: http://www.rainfallpress.com/

Friday, March 22, 2013

The Ballad Of Superwoman And Bandita

Alicia Keys - Superwoman

Let me tell you about my recent life. 

I received the news that my friend Byron had passed away, expectedly but still, it's never easy.  I found out an hour after hearing this that another classmate of mine was killed in a horrible car crash.  On this rainy night, my memory was spiraling with my own remembrance of squealing brakes and spinning uncontrollably. 
One week later, I was having an empowerment day; trying to raise myself out of my funk, singing loudly along with the stereo "I aaaamm Suuuuuper Womannnnnn... yes, I ammmm"  when BAM... my world was turned upside down in a blinding collision as one careless woman whipped her car in a u-turn directly in front of me at a high speed.  I had nowhere to go but into her car, my own fishtailed everywhere, I was spinning once again, jolted as my car slammed into the median, severed a street sign sending it twenty feet down the road, and Bandita came to fatally rest on what was left of the post.

I anxiously awaited the news on my beloved beauty, my husband and I were involved in another minor collision two days later with a careless motorcyclist. 
Four days after that, after I'd exhausted myself playing police detective to prove my case and expedite proceedings with the insurance, I picked up my rental car and made it one block and through an intersection when a pedestrian stepped off of the curb directly behind my car, leaving the woman driving the SUV behind me no time to stop.  Terrified when I heard the squealing brakes yet again, I stared in horror at my rearview mirror to see the elderly man roll up onher hood and back down to the pavement with a deadly thud. 
I had reached a level of trauma that was beyond anything I could handle.
Now, to add to the stress, my car is being deemed a total loss, over a few hundred dollars over its estimated value.  I have had to play police, detective, and soldier on top of dealing with depression, fear and other physical symptoms and injury.  There has been severe miscommunication, lack of follow through, and poor customer service from all ends. 
I was simply driving down the street.  I shouldn't have to be working this hard to be made whole.  I had a car, and now I don't.  And somewhere is one Carolyn Johnston who has virtually little repercussion for what she has taken from me. 
I'm taking my case to the owner of the body shop where my Bandita sits, in pieces, in the hopes that his reputed kind nature will find something of value in my appeal.  Here's hoping that Mike Rose, of Mike's Auto Body, is willing and able to help us out. 
To some, a car is just a car.  I am not some.  And Bandita is not just a car.
Stay tuned.
Dear Mr. Rose;
My name is Kymberlie Calkins-Ingalls, and my Firebird is named Bandita.  I tell you this because I'd like for you to go forth knowing that I am a real person, not just an invoice number, and my car is not just another bucket of bolts in your yard.
On February 21st, I was involved in a horrible accident.  Everyone seems to think it wasn't so horrible because I walked away relatively unscathed of injury.  Injuries I can deal with, but I'm an emotional sort, so as the realization settled in that my car was severely damaged to no fault of my own, fear began to set in that I would be without my Bandita for good.  We've been through our paces, she and I. 
I think, I hope, that you understand that a car isn't always just a car.
I admit, I've not been pleased at how this whole thing has been handled.  I had the car brought to your Concord shop because of a multitude of reasons; I know your company is preferred by insurances, I know you sponsor many cars at the Antioch Speedway where I have strong ties, my family is in a similar industry and therefore am aware of you being ensconced in the community based on the latter two. 
First, my car was towed from my father's shop, Bill's Tire Service, to yours.  As I awaited confirmation of its arrival, I found that it had been lost somewhere in your yard, my keys handed off to some unknown person, and nobody seemed to know what was going on.  Once it was all squared away, on to the next step.  I spoke with Damon, who assured me that everything would be done to save my car if at all possible.  I explained that this was traumatic for me on many levels; financially (despite my not being at fault, I cannot afford to replace my car or end up with a used one that has unknown issues), and emotionally. 
The initial estimate was in the range of $5800.  We held out a hope that this would be deemed repairable.  A week went by when I received a call from the Total and Loss Dept. of AAA.  The small bit of information I was given led me to believe there had been an updated estimate that I was not informed of.  I asked the adjuster to please forward to me the estimate she had received, and I waited, no email, and the adjuster kept sending me the wrong forms.  I also called and asked Damon for the same, very disappointed that he hadn't taken the time to let me know there had been a change.  He said he was leaving for the day and would email me in the morning.  No email came.  I finally had to take time out of my day to come to your shop and demand the estimate I'd requested.  At this point I was very unhappy with the service I'd received, as all but one time I'd asked Damon to communicate via email and recieved no results.
Damon came out to speak to me, and informed me that they'd reported the initial estimate to AAA, who came back and said "You have about $700 more to go before we total the car, so be sure it's accurate."  I get that 'estimate' is just that, but why on earth would someone raise a customer's hopes and prolong things without being as accurate as possible to begin with?  So please try to understand my devastation at this already traumatic experience, only to be told that the final estimate came in just over the limit they were given.  And please try to understand, after I'd done my research on the ways insurance companies and body shops work, why this might not seem right.
I'm an author, and I'd like to share with you an excerpt from a post I published awhile back:
My shimmering emerald Firebird is my shadow, my machinistic soulmate. Roger, my husband, has felt many regrets at his matchmaking when he presented her to me upon my thirtieth birthday We’ve grown up together in the last ten years.  She’s been rebuilt on three of her four sides, and we’ve nursed each other back to health after the accidents, each worse than the last.  . 
Bandita was patient as she waited for my fear to subside and I could slip once more behind her wheel with minimal waves of panic.  It seemed she understood why I needed to abandon her for the safety of our big, intimidating truck.  She’s protective of me to a fault, with instincts just like my own that won’t let anyone else on the road rev her up without good reason. 
Unresolved anger is a very dangerous thing.  It can eat away at the soul of a person like a rust corrodes the strongest of metals.  It lies dormant, lingering until someone itches your  trigger finger and with no warning, there lie the jagged pieces in a volcanic mess. 
Five years ago, I nearly lost my husband in a hit and run accident.  A truck came rushing through the light and plowed right through us, never stopping, never looking back, never to be seen again.  A two second difference and he would have been torn in bits.  I nearly lost my life that evening, and… I nearly lost my life.
I drive through that intersection every day.  The perfect circle on the faded road haunt me with its almost artistic dark, rubber stain. 
Unresolved anger –in Roger’s eyes every time he sees a champaign colored Toyota truck, his eyes skimming the front end for damage, quietly because he thinks I don’t see.  In my own mind every time someone around me runs through a red light. 
And now someone has taken Bandita away from me.  My empowering moment of sing-along at the top of my lungs to songs like Superwoman was cut short by the carelessness of another, and the damage is significant.  I don't think she'll make it this time, and it's a loss that frightens me.  My best friend, my companion in my strongest moments, who had protected me through five accidents in as many years, all at the careless hands of others, is on life support. 
Those around me have witnessed my recent depression as a direct result of this incident.  I've been treated for said depression, because we all have a straw that breaks us.  It was my physical therapist who suggested I contact you personally, Mr. Rose.  She said she has read about your philanthropic acts, and I know from my own father sponsoring many vehicles at the track that it takes a good heart to do so.  Many others have also implied that you are 'a nice guy' when learning where my car was.  I simply cannot face another loss. 
I'm throwing myself upon the mercy of your nature.  The difference between losing my car and not, as the math has been explained to me, is a few hundred dollars.  I realize labor is intensive in this job, and significant in the percentage of the estimate. If there is any possible way to lower the labor cost to meet the financial limit of AAA, I am prepared to offer a return of free advertising on every page I have related to the racetrack (I have a following of several thousand on my Facebook alone, and am adding a blog site to match soon) for the life of said sites.  I also run a network of blog sites, one of which is an up and coming Bay Area news and community site, and will happily run ads there as well, for the life of the site.  Traffic for said site is already moderately successful and will only improve over the next few months. 
This is an urgent matter as I've been informed late this afternoon that as of Monday, March 25th, I will begin incurring storage fees as AAA will no longer cover my car being at your facility.  I have no money to afford this, and need some sort of conclusion.  I'm asking for your consideration and a possible answer by the end of this business day, Friday March 22nd.  The reason being it's so urgent is that AAA failed to comply with my requests for the estimate, and did not follow up by telephone until today when I received this message.  Any fallacies on the part of AAA I am holding against them, not Mike's Auto Body.  However, communication has been sorely lacking from both parties.
If the car is totaled, and I have to go with salvaging the title, the car will be repaired at another company that I've done business with in the past, because I know their service and work to be impeccable.  It would be nice to think your company can hold its own against your reputation of the same. 
Isn't there anything to be done?
Very Sincerely,
Kymberlie Ingalls




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