Can People Please, Please, Stop Hitting My Porsche?
It’s starting to get annoying.
If it weren't for poor luck, it's unlikely I'd have any luck at all. In the seven months I've owned this bright yellow 1976 Porsche 912E, it's been rear ended three times. Once every three months, like clockwork. This car is like a mobile neon billboard designed to attract attention. The paint is ostentatious and people tend to pay more attention to low-slung vintage coupes. It's not a beige Camry, it's a Yellow Porsche. It practically begs you to look at it. I both love and hate it for that. On top of that, prior to the 912E, my Guards Red Boxster had its front bumper taken off when it was parked.
The first two times I was hit were minor annoyances where the only damage done was to crack the right rear rubber bumperette. This last time, however, caused a bit more damage. I have been completely stopped with my foot on the brake each time, either at an intersection red light or waiting my turn at a stop sign. In the first incident a young woman in a maroon Honda Civic took her foot off the brake and the car lurched forward into mine. The second incident was much the same, and I would find out that both of them were poking at the screens of their phones when the contact happened. This most recent incident involved a fifteen-passenger van, crunching into the car at about five miles per hour, of course, his bumper ever so slightly above my bumper running directly into the decklid/rear reflector of the '12.
The damage this time a bit more lasting. It took me a second to figure out what had happened. My initial thought was that my foot had slipped off the clutch or that the clutch assembly itself had exploded and lurched the car forward in the queue. When I figured out that the car's engine was still running and my left foot was still firmly on the clutch pedal, my mind scrambled for an explanation. When I looked in the rearview I saw only the grille of the large van and suddenly it clicked. I confirmed with my passenger that he was alright, I checked myself to make sure I was okay (we were both okay), and then I shut the car down and got out to survey the damage.
Upon removing my large frame from the low-mounted high-bolstered sport seats, I saw that the man in the van had already exited his vehicle and was looking at the damage. He was a lilliputian man of Asian descent and he was talking a mile a minute, which only served to heighten the disorientation I was feeling. He said he was sorry that he wasn't paying attention and gestured to the iPhone in his right hand. He said it looked like no damage. It's good. No damage, right? 'Okay,' he said 'I'm on my way then, got to go'. and in a flash, before we could get a word out of our mouths, he'd reversed the big van, the light had turned green in the adjacent lane, and he accelerated away onto a freeway onramp. I still don't know what happened. No insurance. No license plate number.
At first glance it appeared that there wasn't any damage. We got back in the car and headed to our destination. Once parked in a lot with some light around, we checked out the back with a little more intent. The Porsche script reflector had taken the brunt of the damage, pushing the panel it bolts to inward. The engine lid had a small crease and a crack in the paint. One tail light lens had a crack in it the length of my index finger. The following day I found creases in both sides of the engine compartment, and the engine lid had clearly been bent further than just the one place, as it no longer laid flat, sitting far too proud of the quarter panel.
I realize that my 912E is hardly a showroom queen. It's rough around the edges, the paint is barely holding on, and it's consistently dirtier than a sink full of dishes. I truly, madly, deeply love this car, usually because of its flaws. I'm not really mad that my car was hit. I'm more mad about the anecdotal evidence of driver negligence piling up against humans. Three times I've been rear-ended by inattentive drivers with cell phones in hand. My rear bumper could have just as easily have been a pedestrian's hip or a cyclist's knee cap. The chromed bumper of a 15-passenger van hurts a lot at 5 miles per hour when it's hitting flesh.
Now, I'm far from a perfect human being, and I'd be lying if I said I'd never used my phone while driving, but I'm reforming myself. A couple of months ago I installed an auxiliary cable and a lightning cable hookup in the glove box of my Porsche so that the phone stays locked away in that little box while the key is in the ignition. Key up a playlist or a podcast that is long enough to make it to my destination and pop the directions into Waze, and I should arrive safely to my destination entertained and with a charged phone. Maybe you should try to make a similar effort. Instead of a Porsche rear bumper, your next time checking Facebook messenger at a stop light could seriously injure someone, or worse. You don't want to live with that.
Driving is a privilege that is viewed as a right. If you don't feel like paying attention at the wheel of your 5000 pound rolling vehicular manslaughter machine, you haven't earned that privilege. Driverless cars can't come soon enough.