It hasn’t been a good year for cars in our family. My son wrote off his first car last year, on his first drive out in it. My brand-new Toyota Etios was broken into in August and extensive damage was done to it; because the parts had to be imported, I only got it back yesterday. And last week my daughter crashed my son’s second car – we haven’t yet had it assessed for damage but suffice to say it’s undrivable.
These car dramas have been very expensive in money terms: I’ve now forked out almost R100 000 on used cars for my kids in the last couple of years, about R70 000 of it lost in crashes and unrecoverable because of limited insurance – ironically, I can’t afford the comprehensive-cover premiums! And I lost my no-claim bonus on my new car, which is comprehensively insured, with just weeks to go until it was due. But it could have been worse…
My son’s accident last year involved a Land Rover, which obliterated the little Golf he was driving – but my son walked away without a scratch, and with a very valuable lesson having been learned about driving in city traffic.
A little South African PS to this incident: when my son phoned me to tell me he’d been in an accident, and after I’d established that he was unhurt, I immediately told him to keep an eye on his valuables – his wallet, ID book, etc – because I know how quickly these things disappear in the chaotic aftermath of a car crash. While those valuables were in his pocket and so safe from theft, we did discover that someone had stolen the keyring off his keys (which were still in the ignition) while he was talking to the driver of the Land Rover!
The second accident, last weekend, was every bit as lucky: my daughter was driving my son’s car too fast in wet weather, and lost control at – ironically – the very spot where there’s a warning sign of slippery roads. The car went into a skid, crashed through a wooden fence and ended up on its side in somebody’s* garden. When I went to have a look at the damage, I had to assume that her guardian angel had been flying as fast as she’d been driving: the car had miraculously missed the metal-in-concrete fencepoles on both sides of the fence panel it went through, and although the passenger side was completely destroyed and the back and side windows smashed out, the only injuries my daughter sustained were a few nasty bruises.
*Meeting Morne du Plessis by accident
My friend Marianne and I had to cut short our Karoo holiday because of the car accident, and on our helter-skelter (but safe, I assure you!) 900km drive back across the country, played word games to keep, well, me from completely freaking out.
We began with 20 Questions, a car game that everyone knows: whoever’s ‘on’ thinks of a famous person, and the other/s must, within 20 ‘yes/no’ questions, guess who it is.
Then Marianne got creative: ‘Why not do places?’ she asked.
So we did. Her first one was the Voortrekker Monument. Mine, second, was Paarl Rock. Both easy-peasy.
Marianne’s, third, was… Well, let’s just say that after about 15 questions I’d narrowed it down to ‘in Riebeek Kasteel’ and ‘bigger than a car, but taller and narrower and probably longer’.
It was Morne du Plessis’ garden fence. Because that’s whose fence my daughter crashed the car through.
Interestingly, when I said to my daughter, ‘Of all people whose fences you could have crashed through, did you have to choose Morne du Plessis’?’ and she said, ‘Ja, but who’s he?’
Another generation, clearly.
(For the record, Morne du Plessis was incredibly gracious about the incident. It can’t be fun waking up in the morning to find your newly constructed garden fence obliterated and a car crashed into your vegetable garden, but he was cool about it. Thank god he’s also got kids – he knows what it’s all about.)