The Unknowable Alternate Outcome


This isn’t a post about drinks.

Two weeks ago today, I was driving home from the store and a teenage girl rear-ended me at a traffic light. She wasn’t wearing a seatbelt and neither was her 14 year old brother. His head broke the windshield.

Two weeks.

Since then she and her family have refused to cooperate with their insurance company. They won’t return any phone calls or make an official statement.

Officially, I am not a fan of these people.

Because of this, her insurance has not accepted liability for the accident.

I have sent photos and the police report.

I have called, and called, and called…

I have tried being nice, polite, professional, patient, condescending and sarcastic, demanding to know in what universe any of this makes sense and to speak with a manager.

No matter what I say or how I say it, they won’t accept liability until they speak with the driver. They’re not trying very hard to contact her, and even if they were, I saw on Instagram that she’s been out of town – living it up at summer girl’s camp.

That’s right, her parents still let her go to summer camp after she destroyed a vehicle and damn near killed her brother. Apparently she’s the favorite of the two.

I didn’t see anything in her IG feed about that.

No photos of her brother’s bloody face or the wrecked front end of her truck. No video of her hysterical crying, no photos of the citations.

Just goes to show, you shouldn’t believe everything you see on social media.

Two weeks.

Her insurance won’t even look at my car. They won’t help me out with a rental, they won’t cover the repairs to my camera. (I was driving home from a wedding before I stopped at the store and my camera case was in the trunk).

In the meantime, I’ve still had to make my car payment. You know, the payment on the car I don’t have and can’t drive because somebody was careless and now can’t be bothered to make a phone call.

And about all this, I am really pissed off, but irresponsibility and injustice are not the point of this story.

Incidentally, my insurance has stepped in and they’re taking care of things now, though I may possibly end up having to pay my deductible.

But what if what I’m describing is only part of the story and there is another force at play here that is unseen?

There is a thin veil between blessed and cursed. It’s called the Unknowable Alternate Outcome.

I wasn’t hurt in the accident. To the contrary, I had less neck pain after the accident than I did the day before the accident. Call it an unfavorable way to get a chiropractic adjustment but it worked.

I love my car but the truth of matter is that it’s expensive. I bought it in January of this year and then promptly quit my day job. Since then, I have found other work and am making the payments but it’s often a stretch.

Stay with me now.

The main reason I wanted to trade in my old car, a 2010 Hyundai Accent, is because I found out that the safety ratings on it were really bad. I mean, like, if a 1989 Ford Ranger driven by a careless 16 year old girl plowed into me at 35 mph in that car I might be dead right now, bad.


On the other hand, the 2017 Chevrolet Cruze is a very safe car. I absolutely believe that the safety engineering of Cruze is what kept me safe in the accident. If I had still been driving the Hyundai, things may have turned out much differently.

Could it be the whole reason I bought the Cruze in January was to save my bacon at 2:30 in the afternoon on July 27, 2018 in Los Lunas, New Mexico?

But wait, there’s more.

On the day of the accident, I had photographed a wedding in Albuquerque in the morning and was planning to have a little dinner party with adult beverages and pizza at my house that night. On my way home from the wedding, I stopped at Wal-Mart to pick up the aforementioned adult beverages and pizza. Wal-Mart is on the other side of Los Lunas from where I live so to go there meant taking a different way home.

So may times I thought, “Why didn’t I just go straight home?”, “Why couldn’t I have just gone to Albertson’s instead?”, “Why didn’t I stay at the wedding for just a few moments longer?”

What if I wasn’t in that exact place at that exact time?

Well, what if, indeed?

When the truck hit me, I was the eighth car in line at a stoplight. The truck hit me so hard that I hit the car in front of me. It was a rickety old Hyundai sedan, several years older than the one I had recently traded in. I didn’t hit it hard, just a little tap that didn’t cause any damage. In contrast, there was two feet of intrusion into the back of my car.

Two feet of crushed steel and body panels, lights and electronics. My license plate was bent in half.


The car in front of me was driven by a woman and there was a two year baby girl in the backseat. The baby was fine, belted into a child seat but even so, it would’ve been no match for a speeding truck, it was a minimal child seat and it was facing the wrong direction (forward instead of backwards) for a child that young.

What if I wasn’t in that exact place at that exact time?

What if the truck hit them instead of me?


A mother loses her baby daughter and a 16 year old girl is charged with vehicular homicide.

How lucky we all are that my car was in the middle and there was no one in my back seat.

What if I had taken a different route home and been in an even worse accident that my car couldn’t protect me from?

Instead of pushing up daisies this morning, I got to wake up next to my husband safe in my bed. I got to see the sunrise, feed the hummingbirds, and to play with my dogs. I got to hang out with my family yesterday and photograph lightning last night.

I got all of that and all I can do is bitch and whine and complain to everyone I know about the injustice of it all.

Can’t know the alternate outcome but it’s reason to reconsider.



Author: d. Nelle Vincent

I write stories about wine and the human condition because the devil, as they say, is in the details.

5 thoughts on “The Unknowable Alternate Outcome”

    1. I did Tweet them this morning and they responded. I sent them the additional info they asked for so I guess we’ll see what happens. Not expecting anything to happen before Monday though.

  1. So glad you’re safe and very sound!! No fun dealing with the mess but it sounds like God Almighty used you to protect an irreplaceable life with a replaceable car.

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