On 2/13/2012, I left work at 2pm and headed from Milwaukee, WI to Oxford, WI to adopt a dog from the Eyes of Hope Shelter. About 4pm, I took the exit from 94-W to 39-N. Shortly after, my car hit some ice and I spun off the road, and continued spinning into a cluster of trees. Don’t worry; I’m fine. After looking at my car, I called my Insurance for a tow truck. Due to some confusion about my actual location (I-94-West and I-39-North, not Highway 39, not exit 39, not exit 139…) I waited a while for a tow truck. After about an hour on the phone with my insurance company, trying to explain exactly where I was, someone was nice enough to actually stop and see if I was ok. He let me know the State Patrol had someone pulled over down the interstate, and flagged the officer down for me when he started heading my way. Insurance had set up a tow for me by this point, and I let the agent know that a police officer had arrived and hung up.
At this point I expected things to go a little bit more smoothly. That didn’t happen. The officer asked me what happened, and I told him. The next words out of his mouth were not “are you ok?” They were “How fast were you going?” “About 65.” “Huh.” You know what? The roads aren’t the best. I’m driving a car that has trouble making a left turn at 5mph if the roads are slick. I was going the speed limit. Which, you know, matters at all when you hit a patch of ice.
“What lane were you in?” My car just spun into a tree. I’m trying to mentally hold myself together long enough to get a tow truck and my insurance company hasn’t been able to figure out where 94-W splits into 39-N for the past hour. I have no idea what lane I was in when I lost control of my vehicle and miraculously managed to keep my car from flipping over as it spiraled down a hill into a tree.
“Did you call the police?” “No, I called my insurance for a tow tr—“ “You ALWAYS call the Police first! ALWAYS. Not your insurance, not your friend, you call the police to report an accident. Now what I need is your license, registration, and proof of insurance.” I didn’t hit anyone. No one hit me. There is no question of liability in this accident. I’m not injured. I know how to call to get a tow truck. I’m sorry my first action was trying to get out of a ditch. But, sure, I guess yelling at me is an acceptable course of action. I provided my documentation to him.
He let me know I could turn my car on if I wanted to stay warm. The car wouldn’t start. He offered to let me sit in his car. While heading to his car, he asked who would be towing. I wasn’t sure. I thought they were out of Madison. He informed me had other accidents to get to and to find out the name and location of the tow company, because he wasn’t going to wait for someone from Madison. I called and found out they were, indeed, from Madison and were about 15-20 minutes away. He told me he wouldn’t wait for someone from Madison and, if I didn’t want to cancel the tow and have him call someone from Portage, I could “wait in the cold” for the tow truck because he had to leave. I opted to wait in my car. He told me another State Patrol Car was on the way, would be here in 5-10 minutes, and to fill out the accident report while I waited. And I was supposed to make sure to give the other officer his clipboard. He (I never did catch his name…) gave me a paper with instructions on how to request the police report.
The other officer arrived about 5 minutes later and took the completed report. And the clipboard. He offered to let me sit in his car. I had gotten my car to start by this time, and opted to just stay where I was. The tow truck arrived about 10 minutes later.
I want to thank USAA for staying on the phone with me for over an hour until an officer arrived. I want to thank a random stranger on the interstate for stopping to make sure I was ok, and for flagging down someone who was supposed to help. I want to thank Schmidt’s Auto in Madison for helping me out and driving me to the tow lot, where a friend was able to pick me up. I want to thank Eyes of Hope Shelter in Oxford for being understanding and for continuing to care for my new friend until I can get back out to pick her up. I want to thank my friends, and some strangers on the Internet, for the flood of support I received from one Tweet saying I was in a ditch waiting for a tow truck. I want to thank the people I texted back and forth for keeping me sane, and Stacy for picking me up and giving me food and a place to stay the night and then driving me home the next day. I want to thank my boss for giving me the next day off. And I want to thank my neighbors for bringing me to the car rental place.
But most of all, I want to publicly apologize to the Wisconsin State Patrol Officer for being such an obvious burden on him. I’m sorry I expected you to wait for a tow truck with me, and I’m glad you were able to take off to do better things when the tow truck was going to take longer than 10 minutes to arrive. I’m glad that asking what speed I was going when I hit a patch of ice on the highway was more important than asking if I was ok. And I’m glad you’re authorized to yell at me for calling to get a tow truck before calling you to report an accident. And I’m especially glad you got your goddamn clipboard back. Keep up the good work. I’ll try not to get in your way next time. I hope your commander isn’t too hard on you after reading through the complaint I filed in lieu of submitting this rant to the Journal Sentinel.