The Right Coast

Editor: Thomas A. Smith
University of San Diego
School of Law

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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

An accident
Tom Smith

[This is a family life update. The usual disclaimers and precautions apply.]

It has been a long time since I did a family life update and I realize that is largely because my kids are old enough, adults in their own right, that I can't write about them anymore without invading their privacy.  And that's something I only do occassionally. But for the most part, they are pretty much on their own, except Mark, who is 9, and whose talents and problems I might say more about in due course. He is now obsessed with sports instead of irrigation systems, so I guess that's progress.

But an odd thing happened this last Friday. Luke and Patrick were making an unnecessary trip to In N Out to pick up burgers when they were waiting at a light on the off ramp. Suddenly, a van lept over the curb to the offramp and collided at great speed with a small pickup immediately behind them. That car was totalled, and pushed into Luke's car fast enough to push it in turn into the car in front of him, and it into the car in front of it. The driver of the van took a look at his handiwork and decided to book. The driver of the totaled pickup was bloodied, but refused to go to the hospital and evidently had no insurance, though we're not sure. I suspect his immigration status was ambiguous at best. The police would not let Luke talk to him. After the accident, Luke said this man just walked away, leaving his totalled, maybe 20 year old pickup on the side of freeway.  Evidently it was barely recognizable as a vehicle after the collision and the driver was miraculously (mostly) unhurt. The man in van turned himself in the next day.  Whether it was his conscience or the fact that the collision had knocked off his license plate at the scene, I'm not sure. He was 80 years old and I suspect his  driving days are over. He has insurance, though, so if necessary we will be renting a car. Or maybe not. I don't know how serious the accident would have been had Luke not been in his Subaru, but it seems to have held up well. The rear end of it needs to be replaced. He was able to drive away from the scene. He still drove to In N Out and got his burgers.

I'm reading Montaigne's "That to philosophize is to learn how to die".  This is not entirely irrelevant. He spends a long paragraph at the beginning on all the various, even ridiculous, really, ways there are to die, including that of his brother, a combat veteran who died in a tennis accident (ball to the head; death hours later). Nowadays death is more remote than it was in the mid-sixteenth century, but hardly remote enough. "And besides, there is no man so decrepit that so long as he sees Methuselah ahead of him, does not think he has twenty years left in his body."

All of our children make us hostages to fate and that fate is waiting for us personally too, sooner perhaps, or certainly later.

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