By Steve Knox
Toronto, Ontario — December 5, 2018 — As I sat at my desk, an SUV was towed into our yard. From my window, I took note of the damage to the front. Both headlights damaged, grille, front cover, hood tented up — typical front hit. I was thinking that it would work out to about $4,000 in revenue.
The vehicle passed into the hands of the estimating team, and my attention turned elsewhere. Everything damaged came off; the bumper, headlamps, grille, and other frontend parts. Our blueprinting tech rolled the 3D frame measuring system over to the car, and had the scanner ready to extract all of the pertinent information.
We needed to know the whole story of what this vehicle went through in the accident. As it turned out, the airbags didn’t deploy, nor did the seat-belt pretensioners. There was a code in the system for a failed airbag indicator light, however the airbag control module could not tell us anything and therefore we had no way to know that the system was unarmed. All found on the pre-scan.Frame measurements didn’t tell us anything we hadn’t already suspected, and the rest of the estimate was written without any further drama.
I offered to drive the vehicle out of the stall so they could bring in their next case.That is when I realized that the damages that were assessed were only a small part of the story.
It was apparent that this vehicle had been very well cared for. There was a new air freshener, it’s apple spice. The carpet had been recently vacuumed, and there was also an expensive child seat. A few details that stood out, like the coffee on the console and the Goldfish crackers on the passenger side rear floor. These were signs of the vehicles’ other, more personal story about the family who owned it.
There were two occupants in this vehicle.
They were on their way to a preschool drop off and were running five minutes late. As a result of the collision, Mom is now suffering from a bruise across her chest. The little fellow is pretty shaken-up. He had cried for a while, but he’s already getting over it. Kids are resilient that way, aren’t they?
Mom, however, won’t sleep tonight. She’ll keep replaying the scene over in her head. Why hadn’t she noticed the traffic stop? Is the man whose car she hit going to be alright? What is she going to feel like tomorrow? She’s already stiffening up. The SUV was purchased when she was still pregnant because they needed something larger, but the family still had payments left on their old car. The loan that they took out was for more than the SUV was worth. Will it be written off? Will they pay for the rental while she’s in it for the full time? Oh, and then, of course, there is the new car seat that has to be purchased. Where is that money coming from until she’s reimbursed? Sure, the folks at the repair center seemed nice, but is her car ever going to be the same? Will she ever feel safe in it again?
As I parked her SUV in the compound, I saw another vehicle towed in. Another set of measurements, more codes to read, more parts to remove. More important than any of that, another coffee stain, another appointment missed, another group of lives disrupted.
These aren’t just cars we are repairing. They are disruptions. They are lives.