The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G.K. Chesterton

Monday, 27 February 2006

Emotional trauma

I think I underestimated how emotionally affected I am as a result of the bike accident that happened almost two weeks ago. Other than the physical injuries I sustained to my left shoulder and my right knee, I thought I was fine. Honestly, I didn't think that I was that traumatised. Sure, I was upset and shaken for a couple of days after the accident, but I was more annoyed and indignant that there are drivers like that out there. It was not a serious accident, and I was ready to hop back on my bike (which is still not fixed yet - bike store waiting for the fork to come in) without much thought to it. I didn't even realise that I had subconsciously bottled up the emotional part to this whole issue. Until I had to make the call to the offending driver a few days ago on Thursday.

The manager of Western Xposure (the company that owned the vehicle) advised that the driver, Gary, wished to deal with me directly and that Gary will be giving me a call when he gets back to Perth on that Friday. I waited for that call for one week then had Rob ring the manager to let him know that we still hadn't heard from Gary. The manager gave us Gary's mobile number so that we can ring him (at our expense!). I did not want to talk to Gary but Rob encouraged me to ring him (to 'build character', he said). Rob said that I should try not to get into any arguments over the phone, but to focus on how to settle this $200 cost to fix the bike.

So I ring Gary on Thursday night. He seemed weirded out that I had his number. Apparently he didn't know he was meant to contact me. So apparently there is a communication gap between his manager and himself. Alright. I tell him that I wish to settle the cost of bike repair. He then launched an attack saying that he's not paying the full cost because the accident was partly my fault (said that I was speeding (!! yeah, on my bike?!), that he didn't see me, blah blah blah). I started rebutting his attacks, but Rob reminded me to stay focus on the topic of settling the cost. I try going back to trying to settle the issue, but Gary kept trying to draw me into an argument until I finally gave up trying to avoid an argument and said that I had the green light to go, that I couldn't have been doing more than 30km/h, and that I saw him looking AT me before he turned. He hung up on me.

I cracked and broke down. Told Rob I couldn't do it. That I was still affected by it. I was so upset. Rob rang Gary back and Gary started yelling at Rob. Said that he'd hung up on me coz I was yelling at him (I asked Rob if I had raised my voice at any point, and Rob confirmed that I hadn't). Rob did an excellent job of calming Gary down and reasoning with him. It is easy for Rob to deal with him because he is a third party not involved in the accident. Anyway, Rob said that Gary admitted that he was at fault, but that he is a student and cannot afford to pay the $200. Gary said he'll try to get the company to pay for it via the insurance company, but if that doesn't come through, then he'd have to pay in installments.

Okay, so Gary was probably feeling guilty and tried to shift the blame off himself - what about me? I was the one who was injured, was traumatised for a couple of days after the accident, and had to rely on the unreliable public transport to and from work for two weeks. Where does he get his justification to make me feel bad on top of all I went through because of the accident? All I am asking is for him to pay the cost of the bike repair (and possibly an apology) - he should be relieved that I'm not pursuing him for further compensation for injury, mental trauma etc. Rob later asked me if Gary somehow offered a sincere apology, would I be willing to let the debt go? I said that it may have been possible if Gary did not try to alleviate his guilt by making me suffer even more by playing the blame game when I called him.

I don't know why but over the past few days the fear of riding my bicycle on the road is creeping into my mind. I used to have a phobia of crossing busy roads, and it took me a good few months last year to gain confidence just to ride on my own to and from work (poor Rob had to accompany me both ways for a few months last year). I will overcome it, but this will take time.

One good thing coming out of our bike accidents is that Rob and I will be trying to push DPI to run a campaign to raise motorist awareness for cyclist safety.

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