I was in a car accident yesterday. It was my fault, I was rushing and I rear-ended the SUV in front of me. Fortunately, we were both stopped at a light, and so the damage was minimal…but my nice car has to go in the shop. The rear fender of the SUV was banged up too, a few scratches and a dent. This post isn’t really about the accident, though. It’s about what happened in the minutes after.
A man jumped out of the passenger side of the SUV and immediately yelled, “You just bought this son-of-a-bitch!” He hadn’t even looked at the damage. Then he said he just had back surgery. And cancer.
I felt bad, you know? I felt horrible. I felt like a terrible-driving shithead. I was shaken by the accident, and upset at being yelled at, and promptly locked my keys in my running car. At least my cell phone was in my coat pocket. At least I had my coat on. I called 911, I called AAA, I called my dad, I called everyone and their uncle. I took pictures of the damage. I stood in the 19F wind and waited. The woman driving the SUV asked if I wanted to get in their truck and I said no. I would rather have frozen on the sidewalk than get in that truck.
I talked to my 6’8″ ex-husband last night after everything had settled down, and when I told him about the angry man he said, “I wish I had been there. I would have gotten out of the car with that face I make and he wouldn’t have even gotten out of the truck, let alone yelled at someone. You got out of the car and he saw a little girl he could push around and scare.” And he is totally right!
Even worse, what happens after? What happens when he tells people about the accident? How will he describe me? Will he say they were hit by a woman? Or will he call me a bitch, a cunt, a who-knows-what-all?
I have only been in one other accident in my life, nearly 20 years ago. I was dating my now ex-husband, who worked for an auto parts store. He was following me when I had the accident, so he met the man driving the other car. Because Sussex County is small, the man I hit came into that shop to get parts. He told my ex “Some little bitch slammed into me.” My ex made sure he explained that the “little bitch” is his girlfriend and he saw the whole accident. Suddenly the man’s demeanor changed. You know how it is pal, har har har.
Now I am labeled as “some woman driver.” Never mind that I have had two accidents ever in my life…no driving tickets at all…a car that doesn’t have so much as a door ding. I am just “some woman driver.”
Do I wish I were a super-sized man? Do I wish people would look at me the way they look at my ex? Do I wish I made more money and could keep short hair and wear jeans and boots and not have to shave my legs and pits and worry about my bikini line and command respect just because I have a penis? Yeah, sometimes. I know my intelligence, I know my capabilities, I know my driving record and none of it matters because I have a vagina.