Shame

Adventures in Car Ownership


Today I went to renew my tenant’s insurance. $265 a year to protect my stuff from everything that could possibly happen to it, except what might actually happen to it, if you believe what my lawyer-friend, Dexter, has to say about insurance companies.

[Ed’s Note: The lawyer-friend’s real name has been changed in response to a letter received from said lawyer-friend.]

In my renewal letter, it mentioned that I might want to up my personal liability limit, because there “have been recent awards of over $6,000,000 on auto insurance claims.” There is no reference as to where that number was reported. Dexter works almost exclusively with personal injury claims, and when we last spoke, he told me that in Canada, the awards for pain and suffering are capped at around $300,000; the case in point involved a claimant who was rendered a vegetable, needing constant care for the rest of a now drastically-shortened life. So I was curious where this number had come from. I asked the woman who was helping me. Her eyes glazed over and she looked up at the ceiling. She gave me the please-just-pay-and-go, deer-in-headlights smile, then suggested I try the ICBC website.

[Ed’s Note: Dexter (snort) has advised me that this number could be reasonable if it includes loss-of-future-earnings and other, uncapped awards.]

Next I headed out to Superstore, on the Vancouver-Burnaby border, to pick up some groceries. Superstore (doing business as “The Real Canadian Superstore”) is a discount-type box store that also caters to the Asian and East Indian populations with a great selection of exotic foods. Let’s put it this way: they sell durian.

A hundred and forty some-odd dollars later, I was on my way home, and realized my tank was almost empty. I pulled into the Petro-Canada (82.9 bejeezling cents per litre), and when I went to use the self-pay swiper, I noticed that my bankcard wasn’t in my wallet. The same bankcard, coincidentally enough, that I had successfully located and used when I was paying for my groceries.

Dammit. So I drove BACK to Burnaby, and the helpful cashier had put my card aside. “I knew you’d come back for it!” she said with a smile. Yes. Remarkable Freudian insight there, Superstore cashier person. I withheld sarcastic comment at the time, because after all, she was just being nice and doing her job. And she was cute.

Once again reaching the halfway point, I see the Petro-Canada numbers looming in the distance as I sit back comfortably on my full tank of gas: 77.9 cents per litre. Bastards! Doing some quick math, I figure I spent an entire extra dollar because I had filled up 20 minutes ago. Before their crack squad of price fixers had decided that gas needed a drastic discount. Yes, it’s only a buck. But we’re talking about principle here. When paying for gas, I am used to screaming bloody murder over tenths of cents (for reasons as valid as those used to yo-yo the price in the first place). And using that logic, 5 whole cents is an ENORMOUS expense. I felt as though I’d been pick-pocketed by Corporate Oil Greed incarnate. I was incensed. And laughing. Mostly laughing.

I pulled into the station and left my car idling. Jumped out and slammed my door. Marched to the glass entrance of their pay counter-turned-variety store. Yanked open the door. Clomped up the counter where and a young guy in glasses was looking in his wallet for some pennies, a victim of the dreaded $10.02 syndrome. Three uniformed Petro-Canada employees were splayed out behind the counter. I cleared my throat.

“I filled up here twenty minutes ago, at 82.9,” I said firmly. They perked up. I stretched out my arm and pointed sharply at the three blinking workers. “Shame!” I said, sweeping my arm back and forth at each of their faces. “Shaaaaaaaaaame.”

[Ed’s Note: The previous two paragraphs may have only occurred in the author’s mind.]

Then I got back in my car and drove home.

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