Accidents, Lies and no Videotape | BrooklynCovered

I raced outside and saw what looked to be a 1995 Panel Van with NYS plates kissing the rear bumper of a white 2007 Chrysler Station Wagon with Pennsylvania plates. The driver of the Panel Van had jumped out of his vehicle, cursing his fate, not thinking clearly enough to put his van in park. I suggested, in a loud voice, to get back in the van and put it park.

Date:  Thursday, June 23, 2011
Time:  5:oo PM
Road Surface Conditions:  Dry
Light Conditions:  Cloudy with excellent visibility

Whatever Shall I Blog About?

I was at my desk, thinking of what to blog about, (I mean, I’ve only got about five shopping bags full of notes and ideas), when I thought I heard a bomb go off outside my office.

I raced outside and saw what looked like a 1995 Panel Van with NYS plates kissing the rear bumper of a white 2007 Chrysler Station Wagon with Pennsylvania plates. The driver of the Panel Van had jumped out of his vehicle, cursing his fate, not thinking clearly enough to put his van in park. I suggested, in a loud voice, to get back in the van and put it park.

I  briefly spoke to two former Brooklynites, just in from their new home in Las Vegas for a visit. They said both cars were stopped and then, in what I can only imagine was a severe case of distracted driving, Panel Van Man hit the gas and slammed into the rear of the PA Chrysler Wagon. So hard, in fact, both the drivers and passenger side front air bags , the van’s front bumper was ripped off, and the hood bent like a piece of paper you didn’t like before you threw it away. The result of a collision which again, sounded like a bomb going off.

The driver of the PA Chrysler emerged from his vehicle, holding the back of his head and flexing his spine. When I inquired as to how he felt, he told me he had just left work early to go to a doctor’s appointment.

Call 911, Kiddo

My daughter brought out some paper and pens so the two drivers could exchange information. Why? Well, Sections 601-605 of Title VI, Article 22 of the NYS Vehicle and Traffic Law, (2007-2008 edition) covers the responsibilities of persons involved in a motor vehicle accident anywhere in the state of New York.Section 605 specifically states anyone involved in an accident where on or both parties suffer damage in excess of one thousand dollars shall report the accident in writing to the commissioner.

Your wilful failure  to report an accident or give current information is a misdemeanor creating grounds for the suspension and/or revocation of your license, registration, or both. This applies even if the driver involved is licensed, registered and insured out of state. You wouldn’t be able to legally drive anywhere in New York State.

Send In The Clowns

Why the lesson in vehicle law? Only because this is when the circus began.

The Pennsylvania plates finally made my insurance agent brain go “Click.”

“How are you feeling?”

“Okay, I guess.”

“I called the police and they should arrive soon. Are you the owner of this vehicle?” I asked.

“Yes, I am.”

“And, just between us, do you really live in Pennsylvania?”

“Uh, yeah. I’m just, uh, staying with my daughter in Brooklyn this week.”

Now, did somebody leave a dead, rotting fish in the sink for a week, or does something else smell fishy to you? Didn’t he tell me he’d just left work early to go to the doctor? Somehow, I don’t think he works, or lives in Pennsylvania.

Here’s the reality. Panel Van Man probably lacked either a valid license or current auto insurance. Chrysler Man really lives somewhere in Brooklyn, and fraudulently registers and insures his vehicle in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

Panel Van Man again came over to offer PA Chrysler Man money to fix his car.

“Come on pal, we can settle this right now. How much do you want to fix your car?”

To his credit, PA Chrysler Man initially said “No, I want to call the police and get an ambulance. I don’t know if something is wrong with me, and I don’t know how bad my car is damaged. Don’t you have insurance?

“Yeah, yeah, I got insurance, but it’s high insurance. I pay real high insurance now.”

Gee, no kidding.

“I don’t want my insurance to go up. I’ll tell you what, follow me to my collision shop and I’ll fix your car for you.”

Why is it everybody responsible for an accident does body work? I mean, are they driving around looking to hit other cars so they can take them to their shops for practice? Or is business that bad?

They got down on hands and knees to examine the undercarriage of the Chrysler, then lifted the hatch and checked the interior trunk area for damage. All the while, Panel Van Man kept imploring PA Chrysler Man to take some money.

“Look, I only got $60.00. You’ll have to trust me for the rest.”

Say what? You just ram the back of another car, don’t want to call the police, and expect the other driver to ‘trust you’?

That’s when PA Chrysler Man pulled out his cell phone, began to hold the back of his head. Me, I’d have been laying on the macadam, waiting for Godot, I mean, the ambulance and the police. I’d already have my lawyer, John Dewey, of the law firm Dewey, Cheatum and Howe, on line one, and my real estate agent on line two.

Then, as if by miracle, Panel Van Man sighed, and pulled out a wad of bills which would have choked Secretariat to death. If he thought he had only $60.00, then he didn’t know how to count. He counted out a bunch of $100’s for quite some time. The first time he stopped, PA Chrysler Man shook his head as if to say, “Keep it coming fool”, and he kept on counting.

When an agreeable amount of money had chaned hands, Panel Van Man got into his vehicle lacking a legal bumper, with two deployed air bags and drove off in a cloud of smoke to strike again.

I approached PA Chrysler Man and expressed my hope he wouldn’t wake up a month from now, paralyzed from the waist down from the displaced spinal fracture he may have suffered in the accident. The same fracture the x-ray machine at the hospital would have discovered had he gone.

“There’s not enough money in the wad of bills he gave you to pay the medical and skilled nursery costs you could be facing down the road.”

He shrugged, smiled, got into his  rear bumper-damaged wagon, and drove away, happy with his unexpected payday.

Let’s just hope the rear of his car and his rear don’t fall off the same day.

Who Loses When This Happens?

Well, dear readers, it’s you and I. Us, the “I don’t need the hassle,” “Chicken livered,” and “I am too pretty for prison” honest folk who dutifully pay the proper and legal rates for auto insurance. Rates which are high because of the fraud so many other perpetrate daily.

We pay for everyone who says we’re crazy or stupid for paying so much when you can insure in Florida, Ohio, Maryland, and yes, even Pennsylvania and save yourself some money.

Just don’t get into an accident.

That’s okay though. Like I said, I’ll be glad to wait for the ambulance, talking to my lawyer on the phone.

The really good side of all of this? I finally had something fresh to post.


Eustace Greaves Jr, LUTCF is BrooklynCovered, a financial services representative located in Brooklyn, NY.
And all of the cool stuff happens right outside of his door.



A Death In The Family | Brooklyn Covered

A Death in The Family

It finally happened.

My toaster, the first toaster I ever owned, died last week.

Requiem For A Toaster

“Old Toasty” was a black and silver Hamilton Beach / Proctor Silex Model 22208. Series B1699. Type T16. I purchased it back in 1980. Oh yes, 1980. And believe me, we enjoyed good toast. Man, could “Old Toasty” toast.

At least I’ll always have those happy memories of toast so perfectly tanned, all the beautiful people in South Beach cried with shame and jealously.

With no fear of skin cancer.

After all of those years, however, the electric cord and an interior filament finally gave out.  The resulting spitting sparks produced a sound and light show lasting about ten seconds, the likes of which I never want to witness again.

Your toaster died. Who cares?

You may think I’m being overly sentimental about a 30 year-old toaster going to the big scrap metal yard in the sky. Well, if you own a Brooklyn home, condo, or co-op, think again. Just like “Old Toasty,” every appliance and component in your home or building has an expected useful life. And, if you’re not careful, you could find yourself replacing them before their time. Which will result in unexpected costs for repairs, or  an increased monthly maintenance bill.

Think about this: Unless you’ve just purchased a brand-new home, everything in the home you own is already into it’s life expectancy. And if your home is over 80 years old (hello, Brooklyn) the time to plan for component replacement may be sooner than you care to think about.

I recently read  “Study of Life Expectancy of Home Components”,  produced in February, 2007 by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and Bank of America. The results of this study were based on telephone surveys of people in the trades, home manufacturers, and researchers to learn how long parts of houses should  last. (You’ll find the full study on the National Association of Home Builders website,

Now, remember climate, quality of installation and other factors play a huge role in how long and well home components last. In my opinion, the most important facet in keeping a home in tip-top shape is to do just that – keep it in tip-top shape. Owning a home is not just about watching your big-screen TV’s, entertaining in your home theatres, and backyard barbeques. It’s also painting the house, making sure the landscaping continues to draw water away from the house, checking the roof for damage, and cleaning your gutters and leaders, just to name a few regular chores.

Take the Kink Out Of Your Hoses Before You Spring A Leak

It’s caulking around windows and door frames to create a greater level of energy efficiency in your home, thus saving valuable cooling and heating dollars. Making sure you clean lint filters in clothes dryers, and replacing the metal vent hose. Running the washing machine with just detergent and bleach to clean and disinfect it. Changing the old hoses with new metal-reinforced, high pressure hoses to decrease the risk of blown hoses and the floods which follow.

So, How Long Should Things Last?

Here’s a sample of the expected life of common home components:

  • Countertops:  Natural stone countertops should last about 20 years.
  • Faucets and fixtures have an average life expectancy of 15 years
  • A bathroom shower enclosure should last about 50 years.
  • Different roofing materials will vary greatly in expected life expectancy. Slate copper and clay or concrete roofs last longest – over 50 years. Asphalt shingles about 20 years and wood shakes about 30 years.
  • Aluminum windows should last about 15 to 20 years. I found it a bit shocking to learn wooden windows should last for upwards of 30 years!

Of course, without the proper maintenance like painting window frames and trimming trees so heavy branches don’t land on and crack roofs (yes, I’ve paid several claims for Spanish Tile roofs cracked by falling branches), any component will fail to live up to its expected useful life.

There’s Another Reason To Care

Take a moment and take out the homeowners insurance policy for your Brooklyn brownstone, brick, or frame home. When you look under exclusions, you’ll see losses caused by your failure to properly maintain your insured premises are excluded. This means the only way to repair the damage will depend on you taking money out of your own pocket.

So, if the brownstone or limestone on your exterior wall is chipped, call a company which specializes in this type of restoration. Water from the ruptured pipe in the wall creating a pool in the basement? Call the plumber.

And don’t wait. Do it right away.

You can also enroll in the Neighborhood Housing Services Home Maintenance course conducted at the Bedford-Stuyvesant office on Gates Avenue. There, you’ll learn how to do everything from fixing a leaky faucet to rebuilding a bathroom.* 

So, if you want your appliances and other home components to last as well and as long as “Old Toasty”, it’s time to really pay attention to their care and maintenance.

And don’t worry, we have another toaster. And yes, it’s another Proctor Silex.

Always have a backup.

“Old Toasty” is dead. Long live “Old Toasty.”

* To learn more about NHS’s Home Maintenance Course, call the Bedford-Stuyvesant NHS office at 718-919-2100, or go to their website, .

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