Hit and Run and Run
If you’re not busy, I’d like to invite you into a recent nightmare. Which occurred several weeks before the current quarantine. When people could drive cars and accidently bump the bumber of a vehicle in front of them.
HIT AND RUN --- AND RUN
I’d spent five hours Tuesday morning in a small studio recording songs I’d written for Twinkle, Twister and Starlight Save Christmas. Playing one song again and again. Over and over. Repeating one lyric until your lips split from lack of moisture; you tire. I was tired. Beat. When I got back to our condo, I was ready for a nap.
UNSOLICITED - WIRELESS CALLS
The first call came at 2:30. I didn’t answer. Three more followed in rapid succession. All from the same number. We get more than our fair share of calls from “Wireless Caller.”
The “Wireless Caller” does not want his/her identity known. Every “Wireless Caller,” takes great pain to be wireless. To be anonymous, nameless.
“Wireless Callers” have trinkets to sell. Carrots to dangle in both ears. Incredible deals offered only once in a life time. Vacations to exotic, erotic locals. Cruises to islands only recently discovered by military satellites. Offers that must have a deposit or be purchased within the next seven seconds or never be offered again.
“Wireless Callers,” warn of family members imprisoned in Africa or Siberia, soon to be tortured, usually for violating local taboos. But for less than $2,500 Uncle Joe or Niece Zelda can be released and on a flight home in the next 24 hours; and for an extra $500 they will be upgraded to first class seating.
“Wireless Callers” do not want the people they call to ever return their call. “Wireless Callers,” never leave a number where you can vent your feelings about “Wireless Callers.” Which is why they buy wireless, disposable phones. It’s their vocation to annoy. To interrupt your life. Conversely, “Wireless Callers” hate to be annoyed or interrupted.
A series of “Wireless Callers” swore to me that, of the seven billion people on Earth, I was contacted because my discerning intellect. Only I qualified for:
A: A new Porsche in the color of my choice.
B: A ticket on the first commercial space craft to orbit the earth. Choice of a window or aisle seat. And did I have any dietary restrictions? And yes, I could have lobster if it’s in season.
C: A voyage across the seven seas, with water-skiing as an option. . . all I had to do was deposit $5,000 dollars in a bank in Lagos, Nigeria that would be immediately. . .
And how could a discerning intellect like mine pass up a onetime, last time, snooze-you-lose offer. And shouldn’t I act within the next five minutes or. . .
Every “Wireless Caller” pauses at this juncture, emits a well-rehearsed sigh, expels a long breath of air. . . and promises I would spend the rest of my life regretting this decision and my serious lapse of judgement. After all, this was a one-time only offer.
“Wireless Callers” prey on your basic emotions. I was promised my monthly donation of $9.99 would eradicate Athletes Paw in Panda Bears within seven and a half years. [The way things are going, there might not be Panda Bears in seven years.]
“Wireless Callers” come from local sheriff and deputy associations. Perhaps we would like tickets to the Policemen’s Ball. We all know the police do not have Balls, Hops or Proms. Of course some do, just not the dancing kind.
One “Wireless Caller” asked us to send money to a go-fund me charity for a treed cat. Apparently the cat had spent the past fourteen months perched in a sixty foot fir tree and needed food and water delivered on a daily basis. A fireman friend confided, “Tuck, we’ve never found cat bones in a tree.”
“Wireless Callers” calls often come from the I.R.S. threatening jail time for you and every family member, because you have not filled tax returns for the past eleven
years. . .
Ah, but I’ve digressed. . .
The phone rang a fourth time. I wanted to take a nap. Exasperated, I picked up the phone and said nothing. My “Wireless Caller” also said nothing. During the sounds of silence, I heard breathing. Ro-bo- callers don’t breathe. I ventured forward into the nightmare. “Hello?”
“Hello,” my “Wireless Caller” replied. “This is Officer J. P. of the San Anselmo Police Department. Does your wife drive a gold, Honda Accord?”
This was a new one. How did he know my phone number? How did this scam artist find out I was married? Though I had a hard time imagining a “GOLD” Honda Accord. I said nothing.
My wireless caller said nothing too. At least for a while. “We have a partial license plate. Was your wife recently in San Anselmo? Could she have been involved in a hit-and-run about twenty minutes ago?”
And here is where my world wobbled on its axis. I was tired. I wanted to take a nap.
We don’t own a gold Honda Accord. My wife was in our living room playing Mah Jong for twenty—five cents a game. Bobbie and her fellow combatants Nancy, Janis and Sandy, were laughing loudly.
FORGOTTEN FACTS: And definitely a big “OOPS” on my part.
I’d been in San Anselmo an hour and half earlier. I was stopped at a red light. Third car in the parade. A foot maybe less, behind the second. I’m not making excuses for the following. I rolled forward a foot accidentally tapping what passed as the rear bumper.
Sadly, the car was a wreck.
Moments later the woman driver and I assessed the damage and agreed there was none. We’d driven off waving good-bye. But none of that registered. The woman and I parted with a laugh. Weren’t we lucky to have had our life’s paths cross, if only for this short period of time. We’d almost hugged. Well, maybe not hugged.
But at that moment I forgot about the exchange. I only thought about the barrage of phone calls and my need for a nap
“If you’re the police why does it say wireless caller?” I asked.
“Because I’m calling from a wireless phone.”
“Right!” I slammed down the receiver. Like the police department wouldn’t use phones identifying themselves as the Police Department. Nap time.
Minutes later the phone rang again. I cursed all the scammers and robo-callers on the planet. Same number. Same Wireless Caller. I ignored the call. For a few minutes the incessant ringing stopped. Then the phone rang again. A new number identified the caller as one from San Anselmo Police Dispatch. These folks were shrewd. A female voice came on my answering machine. Hello, this is dispatcher L… XXXX Badge number XXXX, I’m calling in regard to a hit and run accident an hour ago involving your wife and a gold Honda Accord.
“We do not own a gold Honda Accord. My wife is several feet away playing Mah Jong with some friends.” Then right before I hung up on L. . . XXXX badge number XXXX . . .she started to read a license plate number --- the numbers and letters had a familiar ring. . . but, does anyone really know the numbers on their license plate?
I hung up. The phone continued to peal every few minutes. I was almost asleep when from - a living-room-far-away-the bastion of the undisturbable universe of Mah Jong-I heard Bobbie yell, “Stop calling here. Or I’m going to call the police.” She hung up the phone. It rang again. I felt pity for the scammers. These professional were now dealing with an irate Romanian woman. I heard her delicate voice again. “HEY WIRELESS CALLER ARE YOU THE SAME FOLKS WHO SAID I WOULD BE EXECUTED FOR TAX EVASION!” WHACK! Bobbie whacked the phone into the cradle. If these clowns kept calling we’d need a new cradle for our land line.
The phone rang again. The “Wireless Caller.” I was going to pick up the extension but Bobbie was too fast.
I remember her side of the conversation vividly. “I KNOW MY SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER WILL BE REVOKED BECAUSE OF FRAUDULENT USAGE. I SHOULD GIVE IT TO YOU TO CHECK ITS VALIDITY BUT. . . I AM AN ILLEGAL ALIEN AND,” she began speaking in tongue “CETYJK GUGN HJIKKLY IFLUYOPJ IGGLY DOURLLJNG RERTXZ!” Bobbie hung up again. The Mah Jong ladies let out a cheer and what sounded like a standing round of applause.
Minutes passed. I stared at the receiver. Don’t ring. Don’t ring. It rang.
I grabbed the phone. “You are not the police. You are a “Wireless Caller.” Stop calling.”
“I AM THE POLICE!” Now the ‘Wireless Caller’ was shouting.
“Okay, if you’re the police you know where I live come on by. Have a cup of coffee.”
I was almost asleep when the doorbell rang. I looked out the bedroom window. There were three squad cars and an armed contingent of deputies lined up on our front stairs. The tallest, broadest officer was in front. His hand on the butt of his service revolver. One officer was at our parking space snapping pictures of my front bumper. Shit. The bell kept ringing.
I was still getting into my sweat pants when Barb opened the front door.
“What?” She asked.
“Do you own a gold Honda Accord?”
I watched as Nancy, Janis and Sandy headed for the door. “I told you women not gamble in my house.’’ Nancy shot me a short, evil glance and darted down the stairs. Though I knew the police had more on their mind than a twenty-five cent game of Mah Jong. I watched the women slip past the line of police and it was exactly that moment I recalled bumping the bumper of the nice lady in San Anselmo.
I almost extended my wrist for the handcuffs. Instead, I asked, “Why the SWAT team?”
I was told the entire force felt a lot of hostility coming from our side of the telephone line. Sort of like Bonny and Clyde, I heard Barb mumble. Actually, I think she enjoyed the image.
Officer P. sized up the situation quickly. One by one the posse of police returned to the their cars and Officer P. came in.
Officer P. said that a Ms. Gz said I hit her car in the rear and then sped off down Sir Francis Drake.
"Sped off?" I plead my case. “It was less than a foot. How much damage can a car cause coasting ten inches? Did you see her car? I could have hit it with a wrecking ball and it would have been hard to find the dent among all the other dings and scratches. It looked like she’d driven it through a blackberry bush.
"She’s trying to scam the system. She’s trying to get money from me or my insurance company. “Officer,” here, I crossed my heart and hoped to die for special emphasis. “I swear we both got out of our cars and inspected our bumpers. We both agreed there was no damage. We shook hands. We smiled. We almost hugged. Well almost. It wasn’t a hit and run. If anything it was a bump. More of a nudge and I didn’t run.“
Officer P. nodded sympathetically as he filled out his report. After he left, I called my insurance and spent the next few hours typing out a summary of the events. I wrote that Ms. Gz had driven away smiling and somewhere/somehow saw the bump as an opportunity to wrestle money from me or my insurance company.
The next morning I got a call from the San Anselmo Police department. Apparently, several hours after she was contacted by our insurance company, Ms. Gz dropped all charges.
I thanked them and said I was glad they hadn’t called on a “Wireless Caller” line. They hung up.
post script: I realized later Ms. Gz said that my wife bumped her bumper. I was
Detective that I’m not, I realized later that Ms. Gz swore that my wife had hit her car. I was gender offended.