Distracted Driving - a confession

I"m unloading this confession almost six months after the incident in Westport, CT. My pride is still dented - 20 years of crash-free driving then I’m scuppered in my own driveway because I was distracted.


I’ll say this in my defense: I was stressed out on this particular morning in mid-June. Stressed out and running late.

And so it was that I reversed out of my garage at a fair clip without properly surveying my driveway quite as I should have. What can I tell you? I was on autopilot.

The crunching sound and juddering halt immediately exposed my error of judgment. Yes, I had reversed my trusty Subaru Outback into a contractor’s Dodge Ram 1500 pickup truck which was parked in my driveway. In the contest between an SUV and a pick-up, the SUV always loses. The Outback’s rear was decked in badly; the truck had a very slight crack in a taillight and some tiny bruising in the paintwork.

I would love to say that this was the end of the incident, but – oh no – it gets significantly worse.

After doing a cursory survey of the damage to both vehicles, and hastily yet emphatically apologizing to the contractor, I dashed off to get gas before my scheduled commitment.

At the pump I realized that I hadn’t taken any photos of the damage to my car and, as everyone who has completed Insurance Claims 101 knows, it helps to have pictures.

Oh drat. So I grabbed my iPhone and quickly took some snaps of my mangled rear bumper.

Still running late, I jumped back in the car and zipped onto the Post Road, aka Route 1, aka the busiest road in Westport (not counting the Wacky Races). I’d driven barely 100 yards when I heard something clunk off the back of the car. Oh crap, I thought: a piece of my vehicle has just fallen off.

But I was late, and the road was busy, and I figured that particular slice of well-manufactured Japanese auto plastic was unsalvageable anyway. So I kept on going. (This was a mistake, as you’ll see).

When I parked up at my destination some five minutes later, and went to grab my things, I couldn’t find my wallet.


I’m an idiot. I must have left it at home.

But I just paid for gas….

Which means that….


Oh no, oh no.

Oh crap.


Yes, dear reader, I had put my wallet on top of my trusty Outback as I pumped the gas and took pictures of the damage inflicted earlier that same morning.


Come back soon for the next installment of Dreadful Driving Mea Culpa or How Stress Makes Anyone a Distracted Driver or Where’s Wallet?

“Stressed out and running late.”

Key Words:
Stressed Out
Running Late

I hope that you have taken measures to ensure less stress and more time.
The stress and rushing takes a toll on your health, your possessions, and is hazardous to others around you.

The chain-reaction of problems that you described were a wake-up call.

What have you learned ?
How’d you get a handle on it ?
What are you doing differently ?

I share the roads with “distracted” drivers and they are very hard to deal with defensively.


Oh yes, I learned my lesson. And that was only half the story.

Here’s the other half:

Oh $%#@, I thought, as I realized my mistake.

But at least I knew exactly where I was driving when the wallet clunked off the roof. So I dashed back to that section of Westport’s Post Road.

Alas, when I arrived at the scene it was worse than I had feared. The entire contents of my wallet were scattered over a hundred-yard stretch of the road, which is, by the way, four lanes wide. It was a very blustery day and that really `helped’ spreading all the items.

The wallet contained every conceivable important card (credit, debit, health insurance etc) and cash, but all I could see when I returned were library cards and business cards. Whatever. So I began playing chicken with the fast-moving traffic, trying to locate the more valuable cards. But there was not a trace of the actual wallet.

I had to leave the site of doom and complete my commitment. When I returned to the spot an hour or so later I went into various stores near the scene, begging for them to call me if a customer handed in my battered wallet. Every store assistant looked at me with an expression that said “What kind of a freaking moron loses their wallet ON the Post Road?’’ I was too frantic to explain.

Up to that point I had found pretty much every item from my wallet, including credit and debit cards. But then it dawned on me what was probably left in the wallet. Gulp. My driver’s license was in an inside pocket. I’m going to have to tackle the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles again, I think, and my heart sinks.

Uh oh.

Oh no.

Please say no.

But oh yes, my green card was stuffed into the wallet too.

Anyone, ANYONE who has sweated blood and tears to get a permanent resident’s card will know why losing the card would cause such misery. In an instant, I got flashbacks of all the red tape I had to chew through, all the infinite personal and medical details I had to muster, all the nerve-racking months I had to spend waiting for the mysterious bureaucratic process to cough up permission to live in the USA.

I broke into a sweat. Then got the shakes. And finally turned grey.

If the stress of having to replace the precious card wasn’t bad enough, there was another factor in my panic. In less than two weeks I was due to fly to the country of my birth with two kids, having spent close to $4,000 on plane tickets. (Even cattle-class seats on American Airlines aren’t cheap). And I wouldn’t be able to get back into the U.S. without my green card; I’d be turned back at immigration. And there was no way I could get a new card in the 10 days before we were due to fly out.

Well, I’ve really screwed up this time, I thought. So with a heavy heart I went to the police station to report the loss. The conversation went something like this:

ME: “I need to report the loss of a wallet.’’

WOMAN AT POLICE FRONT DESK: “Where did you lose it?’’

ME: “On the Post Road. It was on the roof of my car when I left the gas station.’’

WOMAN: “That happens a lot. What was in it?’’

ME: “Driver’s license.’’

WOMAN: “Anything else?’’

ME: “Green card.’’

WOMAN: “You’re completely screwed.

Well, she didn’t actually say it out loud, but that’s clearly what the look on her face implied.

I spoke with the police officer, who was also fairly sympathetic, in an “I’m glad I’m not in your shoes’’ way. But he also mentioned the possibility/probability of identity theft, which hadn’t occurred to me until that miserable moment.

None of this would have happened, NONE of it, if I’d taken a deep breath before reversing out of my garage that morning.


But folks, this sorry tale of driving dreadfulness actually had a happy ending, I’m pleased to report. Because against all the odds, just a few hours later, I got a call from the YMCA in Westport saying my wallet had been found in the men’s locker room.

How did it get there? Was there any cash in it? Who found it? Was my driving license in it? I honestly couldn’t give a toss. I only cared, intensely, about the green card.

And it was in there. Hallelujah!!


I think I learned my lesson after this dreadful day. Stress is a REAL cause of distracted driving and I paid the price twice in one day for having my mind elsewhere when I was driving. But it could have been a lot worse: no one was harmed, and for that I’m grateful.

So, please, drivers take a deep calming breath before you drive your car anywhere – even if it’s your own driveway.

And if you ever hear anything tumble off your car as you’re driving, check that you’ve still got your wallet. :wink:

I Was Happy To Read That Your Transformation Included A Better Than Worst Case Conclusion.


Get a dog to go with you on errands. You will always have an excuse and sympathy.

I don’t understand how you can hear your wallet land on the ground. Did you hear it slide off the roof?

I think you should write a book. You are a gifted writer! More importantly, glad everything was found. Lesson learned.

A very important lesson is always look in the direction you are moving. I see many drivers turning right from a stop while still looking for traffic coming from their left.

Good Greif , Reviving an old thread that should have been on Fiction writers . com - Why?

Well my mother backed through the closed garage door once, so I always check now. I did lose a mirror on the side of the garage though, and managed to blow a tire out hitting the concrete step in the garage. Oh year and backed my VW into a light pole making a U out of the bumper for $40 damage or so. I dunno, stuff happens to the best of us and that’s how you learn.

Wifes car has a backup camera, I never saw the need, but want one now for my car just to make sure there are no kids playing in the sidewalks in front of the house as I back out of the drive.

Well here’s one. I just got back from the Dairy Queen where I was waiting in line at the drive up. The lady ahead of me got frustrated with the speaker and decided to back up-fast. I couldn’t get it into reverse fast enough and bam, my G6 was no match for a Dodge SUV. She got my headlight housing, bumper cover, and a little of the hood. Geeze. I told her don’t back up in a drive-up. Yeah against my better judgement we did have the Police come just to take down the information so tomorrow its to the Insurance agent, body shop, etc. Paperwork and hassle. Plus in Minnesota you have to do a state accident report if it’s over $1000. I’m sure this one is pushing $1500-2000 but we’ll see. Ruined my record but at least I hadn’t detailed it yet this spring.

I feel your pain. We have the same $1,000 requirement to file with DMV. From my experience. Let your insurance agent handle this. It’s what we pay them for.

Of course OP’s work of fiction was BS. Safety is a perpetual topic. Age of the post where driver safety advise is offered does not matter.

Again I didn’t realize it was from 2012. I guess it is an on-going topic though. $1996.00 damage so my $1500-$2000 off the cuff estimate was pretty close. I usually figure in my head what something costs and then double it because I am still living in the 80’s.