I am not a bad person.
I care about my friends. I care about humanity. But that doesn't mean I'm immune from getting fucked over.
Apparently, the last shred of humanity in Stalin's cold heart was extinguished the day his first wife died.
Mine was extinguished this morning.
Almost a year ago, I wrote this. It is a post about how, over Christmas, I was given the office van to drive home on Christmas Eve, park it away for the holidays, and drive it back in the New Year.
During that time, I used it once when a friend asked if I could help her cousin move.
'Why yes', I told her, I could. I had the van with me, you see. The whole thing seemed almost ordained.
So one morning during the festive post-Xmas deadzone, I drove to Somewhere, London, loaded up the van, and took friend + cousin to Somewhere Else, London. Call it my good deed for the month. I was even rewarded with unexpected bottles of booze, and petrol money.
Which was nice.
So with a heart full of joy for a favour accomplished, I got back in the van, drove about 40 feet, and came to a standstill. A stationary car, a brand new, luxury stationary sports car, was blocking my path.
'Get outta the way, fuckhead,' I may have muttered.
He made a stuttering, stumbling concession, barely inching to one side, and I squeezed through, made it past, and drove on...
.... only to be chased by said fuckhead who was claiming I'd hit him.
I got out. We examined our vehicles, and in the darkness saw nothing. He thought I may have scuffed his car and a £20-£30 polish would rectify it. Details were exchanged. And I drove home feeling more than a little uneasy.
Goodbye petrol money.
Within a few days we were talking on the phone. It wasn't £20-£30, he said. Quotes he'd got were more like £200.
I baulked, and said I'd have to take this up with my boss.
So, New Year, back to work. I told the boss. Boss is unimpressed, and says that as the van was used for my personal errand, it's my personal problem. I understand. I am essentially left to fend for my fucking self, but I understand.
Time passes. I try to get my own, cheaper quote to nail this thing in the bud. I also email and phone the other driver. We debate the problem. I continue to deny all liability as, after all, I saw, heard, and felt absolutely nothing. It was almost as if - I dunno - I drove past him and went about my business. Nonetheless, and with work not 'getting' my 'back', I want to come to some kind of agreement and get this damn thing resolved. I ask the driver to meet me half way and share the cost. It is, after all, his word against mine and I still never saw or heard a thing.
Driver says 'No'
More time passes. The driver then speaks to two luxury sports car bodywork shops. Their quotes are £1,200 and £1,800 respectively.
Now go back to my original post. Just check out that tiny fucking scratch. Go on. Have a really good look. See anything worthy of that cost? Me neither.
I send texts to driver saying this is getting ludicrous. Driver begins to quibble about the need to get it repaired 'properly' with a high-end bodyshop that'll loan him an equivalent replacement luxury sports car for the day or two that his is out. I can now add more numbers to those huge quotes.
I phone back, panicking. The driver tells me that he has no choice other than to go for the higher quotes, as the luxury sports car manufacturer has now logged this scratch as an official defect that can only be rectified through one of their own approved, overpriced repair shops.
I start to feel incredibly fucking sick.
Meanwhile, our insurers send a guy round to examine our van. He can see no comparable mark on the vehicle, like nu-thing. It was almost as if I DIDN'T EVEN TOUCH HIM.
...... Then time really passes......
Fast forward to about a month ago. A letter arrives at work. It is our insurers.As they have heard nothing more, they say the case is closed unless they hear anything further.
'Congratulations,' my boss says shaking my hand - and I'm shocked. I feel like I've dodged a bullet, although I sense a reload.
That reload was today.
Today, we got an email. It was from our insurers. Attached were the other driver's letters to his insurers. There, in black and white, he'd scanned all my emails to him, and even our phone texts;
"I can get other quotes," I had grovelled. "I can get a loan, maybe pay £180"
"Look how readily he agrees to pay up!" the driver gloated to his insurance company.
'YOUR INSURED CLEARLY ACCEPTS LIABILITY' his insurers barked at ours.
And then my jaw clenched, and tears welled up in my eyes. My offers to help were now being used against me.
'Don't worry about this,' the driver had told me over the phone months earlier. Verbally, I now realise, he was a bloody nice bloke. Verbally was where I'd reiterated how I never accepted responsibility for all this, and where I made clear that my boss was threatening to deduct from my wages any losses incurred.
'We'll work something out,' the driver told me, and I'd gone on a mission to do what it took to NOT GET MY WAGES DOCKED.
Like an idiot, I trusted him. He was a gentleman, I'd reasoned, who told me he wouldn't let this spiral out of control. After all, I'd said to him, 'Please don't let this spiral out of control. I still maintain I didn't do this....'
And so I'd done - and wrote - whatever I could to not let this get to the insurance claim stage.
Yet there, in today's email, were my old texts, disturbingly reproduced on my monitor, having been culled from his phone, then faxed and scanned to his insurers. And they burned into my eyes and mocked me.
'I'll do this,' I had pleaded. 'Let me try that...' and I wondered how the fuck I'd been so naive, at my age, with my knowledge, to put anything like that in writing.
The last of the texts reproduced on the monitor was unequivocal. To paraphrase, he'd written to me; 'You did this. I should not be the one out of pocket.'
But he omitted my reply text back to him. I know, because I checked. It is still on my phone.
'I did not do this,' I countered. 'This whole thing is becoming obscene.'
For some reason, he chose not to pass that last text on to his insurer. He much preferred all my previous ones that read as if I'd sell my own grandmother to repair that scratch.
For a couple of years now, I've been saving in earnest. Finally, in my mid-Thirties, I'd started to create the tiniest of nest-eggs for myself instead of spending into my overdraft. I'd stopped smoking and have been setting that money aside. In addition I'd curtailed big nights out, and scrimped and saved as the saying goes, putting aside whatever I could. For the last few months I've postponed lunch til 2pm so I can buy from Boots something reduced to £1.
For the last few months, I've eaten stale tuna sandwiches.
I've also gone through all my belongings and eBayed everything I can. It's my Great Life Launder. Every little helps - particularly as my salary is pitiful - and I have now saved £2,000 for a rainy day, one of the few things I'm actually proud of.
... except that rainy day has taken the form of a fat, bald Lotus Esprit driving piece of shit who's frankly lied to my face about helping me out, who'll instead snatch those hard-fought savings to remove a pathetically small scratch from his status-symbol car.
I can't tell you how sick this makes me feel.
... and yes, before anyone mentions it, I am well aware that I'm bleating on about bullshit that came to light on Remembrance Day. As such I've been tormented since by feelings of profound sadness at our fleeting human existence handed to us only by the fortitude and epic sacrifice of earlier generations, whilst at the same time wanting to cave the head in of a greedy swaggering cunt.
Life is like being in love with a supermodel who adores our attention, but at the same time isn't bothered if we live or die.
Random bunch of arse.