Friday, September 9, 2011

My frightening encounter with Ambulance Chaserus

ambulance chaser
n. Slang
1. A lawyer who obtains clients by persuading accident victims to sue for damages.
2. A lawyer avid for clients.

To think that I made it this far in life and never encountered one of these creatures. That's all about to end though. My insurance company called today to tell me I'm being served with papers in a lawsuit brought by the elusive, enigmatic species known as Ambulance Chaserus.

Apparently this whole debacle started with an accident I had last Oct. I was looking for trucks on Front St. and didn't notice the Jeep stopped in front of me til it was too late to come to a complete stop. I tapped the car in front of me -- TAPPED being the operative word. There was minor damage to both cars but it literally wasn't visible to the untrained eye. My insurance told me the woman bumped her head and sought treatment for her injury. She looked absolutely fine and I didn't hear anything else about it so I thought it was a done deal. Until today.

In the interim between my accident and my now pending lawsuit, I cosigned with my daughter for a loan on her first "nice" car. It was a 2006, but it was super cute and she loved it. Three weeks later she was coming home on K7 at 11:30 at night and two farmers had let their black cows stray. Another driver hit the smaller cow, killing it instantly. My daughter hit the second, larger cow,which totaled her new car. The poor cow had to be shot. My daughter was burned by the airbags, cut by all the flying glass from the shattered windshield and bruised all over from the impact. Luckily though, she was OK.

We're asking for the farmer's insurance to pay for my daughter's emergency room visit to check for broken bones or other trauma. The bill came to around $3,000.

The woman whose car I tapped? She's suing for $65,000.

Of course I'm dumbfounded by this suit. It's within the limits of my coverage,but that is so NOT the point. The point is someone actually has the balls to try to profit from the minorest of accidents while my daughter, who's lucky to be alive is simply asking for her minor bills to be paid.

I've been instructed not to speak with the ambulance chaser if it tries to make contact, and I may never even see it in person. But it's out there, scouring every nook and cranny for another frivolous lawsuit to file. For my part, I hope the papers I'm served are as close as I'll ever get to an actual encounter with the beast.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

My accidental garden

My backyard bird feeder started out like any other, with a long black pole, a seed container and some sunflower seeds. I was hoping to attract some cardinals and finches to my yard. What I got was a veritable menagerie.

Once the black stake was firmly in the ground with the glass and metal seed container filled to the brim and screwed securely on top, I went inside and waited. Peering out my kitchen window every few minutes, I wondered how long it would take the birds to discover their new buffet.

It took longer than I thought for the first visitor to arrive. It was a nondescript little brown bird—possibly a sparrow. I kept watching and waiting for his colorful cousins to arrive. Little by little, more birds showed up to the feeder.

There were noisy black starlings. Nervous doves. A pair of cardinals began to visit every day around sunset. Plenty of small brown birds I couldn’t identify showed up too.

Then came the squirrels. At first they were content to forage among the scattered seeds on the ground that the birds had knocked out of the feeder. But soon they were shimmying up the pole til they reached the top, where they would perch precariously and balance with their tails while raiding the feeder.

Between the birds and the squirrels, dozens of seeds were scattered on the ground. And despite the nonstop foraging around the feeder, little looked-over seedlings soon began to sprout. By the next time I was ready to mow the lawn, a forest of sunflowers was taking shape around my feeder.

Dodging the seedlings with the lawnmower became a game. I wanted to see how high they would grow. If all of them reached maturity, I’d have 40-50 sunflowers crowded around my feeder!

Some of the young plants became rabbit fodder. The entire family of squirrels that started hanging out beneath the feeder probably flattened a few too. But the majority of the flowers grew taller and taller, creating a canopy under which the birds and squirrels could escape from the hot summer sun.

Now it’s August, and the flowers have burst into bloom. Bees collect nectar from them, and vivid yellow finches grasp the flowers with their tiny feet, picking out seeds one by one. Nature is putting on a show in my backyard, and I’m enjoying every minute of it. The grass beneath the dense flowers is trampled and littered with seed hulls. It will have to be replanted, but the enjoyment the bright yellow flowers and the creatures they’ve attracted have brought me make my accidental garden well worth the effort.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The futility of irrefutable proof

I was talking yesterday with a Republican friend of mine and I cautiously asked “You’re not a Birther, are you?” “No,” he replied “but I wish Obama would just release his birth certificate so we could talk about other stuff, like how bad he’s screwed up the economy.”

From there I got a quick lesson in why Obama’s Certificate of Live Birth is not the same as a birth certificate and why Birthers are demanding the latter, much to Donald Trump’s delight. If only the President would stop being so glib and just release the birth certificate, my friend assured me that everyone would move on.

Boy was he wrong.

Today President Obama released the long form of his birth certificate, a document until now his administration claimed wasn’t available. Apparently they twisted some arms with some government officials in the state of Hawaii and got them to release this controversial document. My friend texted me and said “Finally. Now the mainstream media can move on.” But from the reports I’ve read this disclosure has done nothing to quell the Birthers’ insistence that Obama is ineligible to be President. All it really seems to have done is give Trump another reason to congratulate himself.

What will it take? The state of Hawaii proving its statehood? An affidavit from the newspaper publisher that ran Obama’s birth announcement? The truth is that nothing will silence the Birthers because they don’t care whether Obama is a U.S. citizen. I think what they really care about is that he’s black. And now that Obama has gone that extra step and produced—again—irrefutable proof of his citizenship, maybe the mainstream media will finally get the hint that this has nothing to do with citizenship and everything to do with race.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Butterflies in winter?

I just returned from a weekend trip to Chicago with my daughters. We had a great time, but the cold weather made getting around harder – to say the least. What typically would have been nice walks from our hotel to nearby restaurants turned into trudging through the snow against the cold winter wind, and cab rides won out over walking more times than not.

Now that I’m back, I just learned about a place that, if we had visited, might have infused some summer-like spirit into our experience. The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum has a real-life butterfly garden on its second floor. And what says summer more than butterflies flitting around? I bet that 2,700 square-foot greenhouse is nice and warm, and no mittens or earmuffs are required to walk around among the 75 species of butterflies that reside there.

To be sure, we enjoyed the museums and attractions we visited despite the weather. But if I ever visit Chicago again during the winter – or any other season for that matter – I’m going to put the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum at the top of my places to visit.