It was the crunch I heard first.
Looking back, I think there was some sounds of an engine revving and tyres squealing, but at the time I was lounging on my couch, distracted by the TV and considering the imminent prospect of my bed. Little did I know that slumber would be some time away yet.
But back to the crunch. After establishing that no, it didn't come from the TV (although spookily, the scene I freeze-framed after hearing the noise did feature the main characters in a car), I raced to my bedroom and peered out of the blinds. I saw a dark-coloured car reverse and turn in the empty road, and head off down the nearest side street, and I saw people everywhere, pointing in the direction of my car. Something pinged in the pit of my stomach.
Then my buzzer buzzed.
"Does anyone there own a silver car?"
"Yes - has it just been crashed into?"
"S*@%!. OK, I'll be right down."
I raced downstairs, joined by my neighbours Mike and Jenny who had also been buzzed, and tore outside.
There was my car, the beloved "Hummer", with its front all crumpled in, its Toyota badge lying amid shattered plastics on the road, having been shunted back about one metre by the force of the impact. I was a bit dumbstruck, and immediately thought "How am I going to get to work at 4am?"
I was quickly surrounded by locals, who all proffered witness accounts of what had happened, where the driver lived, and how the police had already been called. I made a quick call to Greg, who was out at a mate's place, knowing he'd want to be around.
Then a tall, slim and dark-haired girl walked up to the gathered crowd, holding the hand of a skinny emo-looking type lad, and asked who owned the car. The crowd parted like the Red Sea, and I was left, standing in a very daggy terry-towelling robe, face-to-face with the guy who had crashed into my car, and his responsible young friend.
"You did this?" I said.
"Yes...I'm sorry". He was softly-spoken and completely passive.
"Why did you do this?" I asked quietly, as I had begun to smell something.
"I don't know, hey."
The stench of booze coming off the guy's breath was palpable. I hadn't really felt angry enough to shout, as I was not in the car at the time and nobody had been injured, but getting a whiff of the guy calmed me. I knew he was in a lot of trouble - he was drunk.
It turned out there had been a house party up that nearby side street, and the guy had decided to take his "new" Mercedes out for a spin. I say "new" because he had only owned it for a week, but it was at least a 15-year-old model. It wasn't registered in his name and it wasn't insured. He had come out fast from the side street, fishtailed and slammed straight into my car on the other side of the road. He had driven back home for whatever reason (I would say most likely confusion), before being dragged back to own up by his friend.
We swapped details and waiting for the police to arrive. A paddy wagon was first to turn up, followed by a uniform traffic cop in a plain car. He breath-tested the driver and yup, the guy was well over the legal limit. I had to remind myself each time I felt sorry for him that he was a drunk driver and he had broken the law. He could have done far more damage had he missed my car and kept driving - he could have hit a person. That's why I couldn't get too angry about my car. If hitting it meant the guy stopped driving, then I'm happy to have sacrificed the car. After all, it was easily fixed, and I was insured.
Eventually the traffic cop chatted to both of us, took the guy away for further testing and I assume, the watchhouse, and I was left chatting to my newfound neighbours. One of them even turned out to be an insurance assessor for Suncorp, so he had some good advice on filing the claim. They were all good people, and I got down all their names and addresses so I could invite them to the house-warming party that I will eventually have. It may have been less-than-ideal circumstances, but I was grateful for the chance to forge some neighbourly bonds.
With all the commotion, I didn't end up getting to sleep until 1am. Thankfully my boss sprung me some cab charges vouchers so I could get to and from work over the weekend. My car was promptly towed by the RACQ on Saturday morning, and is now in a holding pen somewhere on Logan Road awaiting assessment. I should find out tomorrow how long I shall be carless.
On Saturday night, Greg found a bunch of pink gerberas outside the block of flats. The card read "To the girl who owns the car I crashed into: Sincere apologies. J.S." It was a sweet gesture, but I couldn't help feeling I wish the guy had saved his cash. He's going to need it once my insurance company gets onto him - not to mention the fine he will have to pay for drink driving.