The Accident

I vaguely remember going down the sidewalk on the street to aerial. I guess I was trying to catch up to my friend ahead, and didn’t see the car as I went through an intersection. Thankfully, I always wear a helmet (Europeans don’t always do this and I think it’s insane), and thankfully, my friend heard the accident. She called the ambulance. They put my neck in a brace and I have a funny picture of that, but I don’t remember any of it. From my perspective, I woke up around 1am with my husband next to me and my friend at the foot of the bed. They told me I had been in an accident. It turns out, I had been awake the whole time asking the same questions over and over, unable to keep the answers in my head. Some pieces of memories have returned, but in the end, I still  remember very little. My head and neck hurt (my husband said I had whiplash) and I had some bad bruises where I must have fallen.

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Hospital lunch.

I slept badly– they kept waking me up to do various tests throughout the night and morning: blood pressure, cardiogram, and maybe more. The paperwork says they did a CAT scan when I came in, which showed negative for brain injuries. In the morning, they offered me a tiny breakfast of biscuits with jam and tea, and at lunch I got a small helping of plain oriechietti pasta with olive oil and parmesan, and a baked apple (safe foods I suppose). My husband kept me company the whole time, only leaving to get a few supplies, and my Italian friends came while he was out, so I never had to be alone. It was really nice knowing that there were people looking out for me.

I was afraid of the cost of all of this, but at the start of the year, I paid around 300 euro for a bunch of bureaucracy, including health insurance. Since I now have the usual national Italian health insurance, the healthcare was entirely free.

On the other hand, car repairs aren’t free. I met with the woman from the accident yesterday evening, and had a rather long conversation in mostly Italian with her and her husband. They didn’t quite believe that I didn’t remember what happened. I understand why that might sound fishy, but it’s true in this case.

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The dent my head made in the car.

Anyways, the lady seemed mostly like a reasonable person trying to get paid for car fixes. Her husband, on the other hand, was kind of a dick. He wasn’t there during the accident, and he spoke very poor English compared to the lady, and yet he felt the need control the conversation from the outset and to ‘splain to me everything that happened there, in particular underscoring the importance of the giant dent my head made in the car (nevermind about my head, by the way). He further proceeded to ‘splain to me how American insurance works and that it would pay for the accident– even after I said multiple times that I do not have American insurance, and that even if I did, it wouldn’t work the way he thought. Perhaps he was under the mistaken impression that I was a frightened American college student willing to write a blank check to make the situation go away? That is not the case. He obviously thought he deserved to be in control of this situation, which he had literally nothing to do with. It took me some 10 repetitions of “I need documentation of the incident before I can do anything,” to shut him down. I was only polite, but I was willing to repeat the same thing a million times if that’s what it took. He eventually gave up and started smoking like a chimney instead.

After that, I was finally able to talk to the actual adult in the room (the lady from the accident), and we figured out what we have to do next, starting with her calling the police to get information about the documents I need. It also helped that one of my friends who was at the accident showed up at just the end of the conversation by complete luck (it’s a small town). My friend and the lady talked in Italian and came to much the same conclusions that had already been decided upon. Although no new information had been exchanged, the lady and her condescending husband seemed to finally accept that they were probably going to get what they wanted and we parted ways.

It’s possible I was in the wrong (though once again, I don’t actually remember anything at all), in which case, I might have to pay, but I’m waiting for all the police statements now. Hopefully some impartial passersby saw what actually happened. I do have some personal liability insurance through LCT (Dr. Walter travel insurance), and my hope is that this gets reimbursed, if I do have to pay. The dent my head made in the car was huge, and the repairs will likely be expensive.

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The memory of the beautiful visage of the lizard from Trieste keeps me going.

Update (12.04.2018):

Today was stressful in many ways. I want to describe my day just a little, so as to set the scene for what is to come. Firstly, I realized yesterday that my bike wheel had been bent in the accident, and I had to pick it up from repairs today (annoying errand number one). Also, I got the most terrible rope burn on the back of my knee from learning a new aerial drop, and didn’t get much sleep last night from the pain, which also makes walking difficult. I did have some American disinfectant cream (Neosporin) lying around, but this morning I had to go to a pharmacy to pick up other wound dressings (annoying, and painful, errand number two). Finally, my glasses also broke the day before yesterday, and my backup pair actually give me some headaches, as do contacts when working in front of the computer. So I’m struggling against that, while also trying to find time to go to an optometrist (another thing I have to learn to do in Italian now). So with all of these small annoyances going on in my life, I needed to brace myself to face the Italian bureaucratic system, yet again. Today, I would be dealing with the carabinieri (military trained police, as opposed to polizia di stato, who are the civilian state police– I’m not entirely sure where their duties overlap or diverge).

Friday of last week, I went to the carabinieri to try to get a statement of what happened during the accident. I had to wait an hour (which made me miss the last train before the 2hr morning break in trains) to receive a piece of paper stating that there was an accident and who was involved. This was not a statement of what actually happened though. I was told to return today at 18:00 for that.

So today I went to pick up the statement of what happened. I arrived at 18:00, as I was told, but of course, I expected things to not be ready. Indeed, I ended up waiting around an hour in the office of who I assume might be an important head guy, because he had the nicer jacket with the most number of stripes. There were 3 people dealing with me. This head guy, another lower ranking guy, and an English-speaking one. That was nice of them to provide the English speaking one, because he was able to more quickly make me understand what they wanted from me, namely, a copy of my insurance.

The head guy was pretty outgoing, and talked to me at length about his home, Licata, Sicilia– the warm weather, the lovely beaches, the food. He asked me a bit about myself, and talked a bit about his take on Italian culture vs. German culture (since the North used to be a primarily Germanic region, people tend to have strong opinions about this). However, his home seemed to be the only thing he was really interested in talking about. With nothing much else to do while waiting, I did my best to engage him in my mediocre Italian; I guess it made a good practice session. In the end I ventured to ask “Lei piace vivere qui? (Do you like living here?)” He considered this question for a moment and answered with some lamentation “Ti abitui (You get used to it).” Clearly, he had not really gotten used to it.

Finally, almost an hour later, the other guys came back with the statement I had been waiting for. They told me that in order to receive it, I needed to go to the tabacchi to buy five marche da bollo for 0.26 euro each. By the way, these are some sort of revenue stamp that makes documents official, though I have no idea what the cost and amount you need are based off of, and I also couldn’t tell you why the tabacchi are the ones to sell them (just as the tabacchi are the ones to sell bus passes). I went to the tabacchi, but the guy there told me that their Internet was down, meaning they couldn’t create the stamps for me. He told me I would have to go to another tabacchi about 5 minutes away to do it. I walked there slowly, dealing with the stinging pain from the abrasion on my leg, but they told me they can’t give me marche da bollo for a lesser value than 1 euro. They realized, before I mentioned it, that it was the carabinieri who sent me on this mission, and expressed their frustration that the carabinieri don’t know by now that no one sells marche da bollo for less than 1 euro. I really didn’t want to argue over a few bucks at this point (and my Italian isn’t good enough to do so anyway), so I just asked them to give me five 1 euro ones.

I returned to the carabinieri, with hope in my heart that this horrible process would soon come to an end, only to find that everyone who had helped me earlier seemed to have vanished. The head person who was on duty now didn’t know anything about me, and was much less friendly than the Sicilian. He told me the office was closed. Apparently, the office closes at 19:00 and no one who had been working with me before had thought to mention this neither to me, nor to the people who would relieve them at their posts. I tried explaining the situation, but I speak Italian slowly, and I kept getting interrupted (frustratingly, this happens a lot to me in general, since Italians tend to have a short pause indicating turn-taking in conversations). I must have seemed really desperate, because finally, he told me to wait while he yelled to the back office. Luckily, one of the guys who had helped me earlier was still there after all, and he was able to finally get me sorted out, though not before I requested he correct my residency information on the paperwork, for which he needed to contact Anagrafe (the municipal bureaucratic office).

One and a half hours later, I could finally go home. I had missed stopping by the optometrist’s office since they were closed by now, and I couldn’t bear to walk anymore, so I failed to complete some other smaller errands I wanted to do today.

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