A $500 lesson in adulting and the importance of savings

Now that the blinding rage has died down, I think I’m calm enough to write this.

I don’t drive my car every day or even every week. I don’t check on it every day. Maybe I should, and maybe I will in the future even though I don’t want this to make me obsessive about my car. It’s 11 years old with almost 150,000 miles for goodness’ sake, and I don’t want to waste my life energy worrying about it. But disaster struck a few days ago.

I left early from work on Monday to spend the night in Charlottesville with a friend. Tuesday morning I got a call and a voicemail from my roommate, which made me immediately nervous. Why did she say she needed to talk to me? Why not just text me? The first thing she said when I called her back was “so I got a knock on the door this morning from a police officer.” There’s nothing like that sentence to make you feel immediately guilty for something that you didn’t do. My sister is also spending the summer in DC so my second thought was that she’d been arrested.

Thankfully that wasn’t it, it was just that on Monday a neighbor reported seeing a car with two broken windows but no one knew whose car it was. The police ran the license plate and came back on Tuesday to knock on my door because I was the lucky winner of the car vandalism award. My roommate, bless her, taped trashbags over the windows in the meantime because there was a chance of rain, and told me that they said to call the police when I got back because they couldn’t file a report until the owner was there. So needless to say I spent the entire ride home from Charlottesville obsessing over what happened, how much it was going to cost, how I was going to handle the logistics of getting it fixed, who I should call first after the police report, and also what the fuck. Happy July 4th to me.

When my roommate said “the driver’s window and the back one,” I thought she meant two door windows, but oh no. Back window meant my entire back windshield, and yep, there was a rock on the floor of the backseat and another one on the floor of the front passenger seat, as well as glass all over the interior. There’s also a dent on the back passenger door where it looks like they threw a rock there but it didn’t break. I wish it had since door windows are way cheaper than windshields. I stood there for a moment feeling like I was going to cry and throw up at the same time as well as utter anger and then I called the police.

The officer said multiple times “this looks personal” even though I sincerely don’t think anyone’s that mad at me. That might’ve also been because nothing was stolen. My phone holder and charger were still there, as well as the $1 or so in the change holder. I honestly think I’d be slightly less mad if they’d taken anything-that would be my fault. I never leave anything in my car (even an empty bag) because I’ve known for almost the entirety of my three years living here that people break windows all the time to steal bags. It’s the city, shit happens. But I don’t leave things in my car to unduly attract shit-happening to myself.

According to a neighbor across the street, she noticed my driver’s side window when she left for work on Monday morning, and when she came back by 3:00 my back windshield had also been broken, which means that one happened in broad daylight. I guess it’s a case of broken windows theory-after my first one had been broken, maybe because I had the misfortune of being parked on the end of the block when someone decided it would be fun to be malicious and destructive, and nothing was done about it, my car probably looked abandoned. So the same person or someone else decided a second round of malicious destruction was in order. Or maybe it was personal, but they mistook my car for someone else’s. The police said a detective will be in touch, but I honestly don’t think anything will come of it. And in the meantime, I spent all this morning on the phone about getting my windows fixed. I care a lot more about my car not continuing to sit there busted and to replace windows so water doesn’t leak in way more than I care about preserving the crime scene or whatever.

I called my insurance (anonymously) last night to get a quote for replacement from them, as well as two auto shops around here this morning. Someone in my building gave the tip to call Safelite this morning especially since they’ll come out and repair your car without you having to take it in (and he would know since his wife left a bag in the car and a window got busted in February). Safelite was the cheapest but turns out their mobile service couldn’t come out until Friday and I already couldn’t sleep last night thinking about how I’d maybe find a third broken window this morning so that wasn’t going to fly. While I was on the phone with the call center an appointment for this afternoon opened up at one of their shops around here, so I told the lady to go ahead and book that for me since I had the brilliant idea of having AAA tow my car there (even if I’d somehow gotten all the glass out of my seat, I’d be worried the rest of the back windshield would crumble in while driving. I was not going to be driving my car anywhere).

Bless my roommate for being off of work today so she could meet the tow truck, give them a key, and take the tarp I borrowed from a neighbor off my back window since I wasn’t sure the trashbag solution was going to cut it for rain. I’ll just take off work early tomorrow to go pick up my car (and luckily the metro goes most of the way out there so I don’t have to Lyft the whole way). I feel much better now that my car is already at the shop and no longer sitting there.

I’m out of luck here for insurance because my deductible is $1000. I would’ve been out of luck with a $500 deductible anyway because the total cost is about $470, and honestly I don’t want this claim on my record to drive up my premium next year. The $470 does include a $30 multiple window discount per window (hahaha thanks for breaking two windows, punks! You just saved me $60, how thoughtful!!), but ouch. Also, don’t worry, I asked about a cash discount, but they treat cash, checks, and credit cards all the same so no luck there. Guess I’m putting this on my cash back credit card. Huzzah for rewards.

This is an extremely painful lesson in the importance of savings. Dad asked me last night if I needed to borrow money for this and luckily I could tell him no. I am still filled with rage at the thought of having to pay almost $500, but this is exactly what savings are for. Being an adult unfortunately means dealing with shit like this (and hey, now I know what to do the next time this hopefully never happens?) and I’m glad I do have extra money sitting around. You never know what will happen to cause to you have to unexpectedly pay out a bunch of money or when it’ll happen, but it’s for sure a matter of when, not if. I own a car and that’s a liability; I certainly didn’t expect this to happen, but it did and it might again in the future, and I need to be prepared for that. It’s also nice to be able to tell your parents that they don’t need to help you out, you know? I’m also most definitely opening up a separate savings account to start funneling money in until I reach $1000 and can pay for anything under my deductible with that specific account because I think that’ll make me feel better than having it come out of a general savings/emergency fund account like it is now.

So shoutout to the asshole(s) who have now ensured that essentially the entirety of my next paycheck on Friday is going towards replacing my windows. Non-sarcastic shoutout to AAA for free towing and to my parents for having me on their plan and paying that membership fee for me. They’ve actually been members for so long that when the lady at Safelite put in the AAA discount to see if that would be more than the multiple window discount, it popped up as $50 off and she said normally it’s something like $15. I’m glad all those years of membership payment have now come in handy (well I mean I’m not, but). Also, being an adult is super overrated and I’ll be trying very hard to park within view of my living room or kitchen window from now on.

Update 7/6: my car is back mostly safe and sound, but the blinding rage is also back. When I went to pick it up today I wasn’t distracted by the broken windows so could fully appreciate the incredibly deep dents they also put in two of my doors just for the hell of it. These dents are going to require a paint job so they don’t rust, which I’m sure would be hella expensive. Dad suggested I fill in the dents with turtle wax (I bought some at the grocery store but I have a neighbor who seems to wash his car every weekend so I’m going to ask him if he has any and return the wax. I’m absolutely doing this the most frugal way possible) in the meantime and he’ll see about buying some touch-up paint so we can work on it at the beach in two weeks. Apparently the beach is the place to have him do work on my car-last year he and my brother replaced the original single-CD radio system with one I’d bought that allows me to connect my phone either via bluetooth or USB (so #millennial, I know, but I like just putting an hours-long playlist on shuffle instead of switching out the CD all the time). I much prefer the elective, fun car work at the beach. Not the vandalism-caused repair work.

Between that and the plastic behind my backseat that broke when the windshield was smashed (which I was informed will mean it will continue to rain glass shards into my trunk for a bit. Lovely!), I’m even more thankful my parents gave me an old car. I’m mad as hell about all this and obviously I’d prefer for my car not to look awful but in the end it really doesn’t matter as long as it gets me places safely.

2 Replies to “A $500 lesson in adulting and the importance of savings”

  1. I know how you feel. That totally sucks. We replaced the windshield on my wife’s car because it had so many pits that it was getting hard to see when the sun hit it just right. Then a week later my back window was broken somehow. We ended up spending $515 between the two of them. Hopefully you won’t have another incident!

    1. Thanks for reading, Dreamer in Chief, and sorry to hear you had a similar experience! I certainly hope this is the last of my replacing windows for a very long time.

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