The deer strolled out in front of me with no warning. I was rounding one of the many curves on the scenic Shoreway in Cleveland that offers a fantastic view of Edgewater Beach and Lake Erie Friday night. I had no chance to react, smashing into it with the right front corner of my car at roughly 50 miles per hour and turning it into so many pounds of hamburger. I yelped a few choice curse words, but other than that sped along my (merry?) way toward home.
Once I arrived home, I grabbed a flashlight and inspected the damage. Busted fender. Smashed headlight. Cracked bumper cover. Bunged up hood. Smashed-in grille, with the front grille molding I had so lovingly Windexed that morning gone. Was the radiator damaged too? Possibly.
I was devastated because I had fallen in love with the ’09 Honda Civic ever since purchasing it in November 2012. I loved how compact and fun to drive it was.
I detailed it every week, applying tire shine to it and Windexing the chrome. That Friday morning, I had even cleaned the glass with a microfiber cloth and water.
I found myself firmly in the shoes of your average customer, and it felt awful.
I texted a friend of mine who owns a body shop, and he set me up with a tow truck. I was impressed by the empathy shown by both the insurer and the shop manager, who both asked if I was OK. The call center rep even told me how she had hit a deer once as well. I don’t know if my friend’s shop is on my insurer’s DRP, but when I told her the car was already at that shop, there was no attempt to steer me somewhere else.
Shortly after the incident, I got over my pain and realized the car would come back looking better than it had before. But I gained a new appreciation for what you’re dealing with: customers who are in a fragile frame of mind when they see their second biggest investment and the thing that takes them to work to feed their families put out of commission.