Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I am Accused of a Crime

This morning I experienced a bizarre phenomenon--an accusation levied at me about a crime that never existed, and yet it created problems in reality.

I was sitting at a red light with my husband at my side; I was driving him to work, and we were stationary, sleepily contemplating the sky, when a driver somewhere behind us began blowing his horn. We looked back. Who was doing that? It was obvious that no one could go anywhere; the light was still red. The man behind me emerged from his car, talking to himself, and began to approach my window. I locked my door. The last think I wanted was to engage a man I assumed was drunk in conversation.

When the light changed we proceeded through the intersection and on to my husband's place of employment. I let me husband out and turned my car to find that the man in the other car had followed us, and was yelling at me through his open window.

Curious now, I unrolled my window and heard him say, "How dare you leave the scene of an accident?"

"What are you talking about?" I said.

"You hit my car! You reversed into me!" he yelled. I noted that he had a baby in a child seat in his back seat. It made me feel bad.

"I haven't put my car in reverse all morning," I said. "It would have been impossible for me to hit you. And we were all sitting still."

He ranted and raved, insisting that I had hit his car (which, by the way, didn't have a mark on it). It was a strange moment; he was so passionate I was scanning for alternate possibilities: had someone else hit him? Had he experienced one of those weird optical illusions in which the car NEXT to him moved and it felt as though he was propelled forward?

What I knew was that I hadn't hit him, and I didn't feel obliged to hang around and listen to his accusations, despite the fact that he was calling the police.

My husband remained to tell our story, if it came to that, and I had children to take to school.

I left.

Later my husband told me that the police did in fact arrive, and that the man sat with them for some time, talking. Eventually an officer came to my husband and asked him for his side of the story. They asked why I left the scene of an accident.

"Because there was no accident," he told them in disbelief.

This man, to me, was employing a sort of terrorism: seizing the power of situation to try to force us into compliance with his view of reality. We had to keep reminding ourselves that just because he was insisting it was the truth didn't make it the truth.

The cop listened to my husband, went back outside, and drove away. We assume that is the end of the story.

But here is my question: are you obligated to stay at the scene of an imaginary accident? Is there a legal obligation to remain if someone is merely SAYING there is a collision, but when in fact no collision occurred?

I've heard that sometimes people purposely rear-end someone and then try to blame them for it, but that didn't happen here. There was never an impact: only a solitary individual yelling and accusing us of a crime, while we sat still on a road.

Didn't Albert Camus write a novel about this at some point?

Art link here


Alan Orloff said...

Wow, Julia, that's pretty scary. You did the right thing.

And if I were sitting on the jury in your trial, I'd vote to acquit (you have a trustworthy face).

Gary Corby said...

Very weird, I feel for you.

I'm in a different country so I've no idea what your rules are, but I would have suggested in the absence of any marks on either car then there's no issue?

Julia Buckley said...

Thanks, Alan. I try to project trustworthiness. :)

Gary, I'm guessing the rules are pretty much the same. So thanks for your support.

Later the same day, in a separate incident, my son was struck by a car while he crossed the street. (He's okay now). I was starting to believe in the notion of an evil star.