The Day I Ran Over a Guy with my Car

By -

Having written this blog for nearly nine full years, I sometimes worry if I will run out of material. The markets usually provide me plenty to talk about, but sometimes I get sick and tired of talking about charts and want to mix it up a bit. I don’t want to go “full Altucher” on everyone, rehashing tales over and over again just to keep your interest, but I want to deliver writing that’s interesting and engaging. I don’t think too hard on this, because usually – like tonight – a light bulb appears above my head. What follows is the light bulb’s glow.

A few years ago, I was having a rough time. I don’t remember the reasons. It was just one of those days. Around dinnertime, I was dispatched by the family to Jing Jing to pick up some Chinese food for dinner. So I drove downtown, picked up the food, and started heading home.

I was, as Bill Murray said in Groundhog Day, “driving angry.” It wasn’t reckless, but it was definitely faster and more careless than normal. As I made the final left turn to point me home, I saw a guy crossing the street. I couldn’t stop fast enough, so I hit the guy.

Now, this wasn’t a situation where the guy went flying dozens of feet into the air and hit the ground dead. Having lost my star engineer in 2002 to a hit-and-run accident, I hope the day never comes that I harm someone badly. But I did hit the guy, and he sort of rolled on top of my hood and off the car.

I pulled over and got out of the car at once. The man got up, and I told him at once how sorry I was 1016-runoverand wanted to make sure he was OK. A bystander came over and told him he saw everything and would be happy to be a witness. It turns out that my victim was leaving his brother a voicemail via cell phone and the voicemail recorded me apologizing and saying it was all my fault.

So the situation is that I’ve hit a guy, there’s a witness, and there’s a recorded confession.

There are some parts of the country where slimey lawyers make a living off of such things. They encourage victims to lie about their injuries. California doesn’t have it that bad, from what I gather. But anyway, back to my story.

I gave the guy all my information. Who I was, where I worked, and where to reach me. I wanted to make sure he was OK.

I was worried, naturally. I had never hit anyone before. I didn’t know what the legal or financial consequences might be. I felt particularly stupid since it was my own angry driving that put me in a position of harming someone, although I was relieved that the damage was more psychological than physical.

The fellow and I exchanged a few emails, and a few days later, the guy basically said he wasn’t interested in doing anything about it. He wasn’t hurt, and he wasn’t interested in pursuing anything because – as he put it – he could see that I was sincere, I was sorry, and I felt remorse. It was a closed case.

Over the course of my life, I have been told many times that, in short, I’m a decent guy. Such words as “earnest” are used. I try to live the life of a good human being, both in real life and virtual life (like right here, right now), and from what I gather, people “get” this. I’ve got my flaws, just like anyone else, but – as my mother might say – my heart’s in the right place.

I have never told this story before, partly because there was no reason, and partly because I don’t exactly want to promulgate the notion that I’m the sort that goes ripping around town and running people over. There are two things that brought this memory back for me.

1016-baddriverThe first happened last night. I was driving my son home, and I noticed a car whipping around the corner in an insane fashion. It went swerving around a couple of cars, and was driving in a fashion that struck me as insane. I’d never seen anyone drive like that in my town.

Allow me to bring up another memory from the past before I continue: when I was 17, I had my first sports car: a brand new red Porsche 944, which I had bought with money from my writing. I was driving kind of fast with my girlfriend (who is now my wife), and a man motioned for me to lower my window. I did, and he told me to drive more carefully, because there were children around. I apologized, told him I would watch myself, and felt really bad. My girlfriend said I handled it really well, but I still felt lousy for being one of “those” people.

Now, three decades later, I was in the role of that dad. I followed the reckless driver until he parked, and then I rolled down the window and told him he should take it easy. His reaction was not the same as the teenager Tim. Instead, he was a complete dick about it: “Are you my mother? Thanks, Mom. Thanks for the advice, Mom!” My response to him, I believe, was, “Fucking asshole!” I was pissed.

I suspect the fact I have children makes me angry at such people. My friend and colleague Alex was killed by a stupid driver, and if anyone even slightly harmed one of my kids, I would torture him to death. I was absolutely livid that not only would someone drive like that, but he would be a dickface to a person telling him to cool it. I never forget a face, and if I see this guy again, we’re going to have a chat.

The second thing that brought this to mind today was my own behavior. Specifically, this:


Now I am usually polite to a fault. But if you had over 100 short positions and were facing a market that had gone up over 700 points in just a few days, you’d feel a little pissy, wouldn’t you? I think so. Therefore, I was unnecessarily curt, and to Torero, I offer my apologies.

My uncharacteristic curtness did not go over well, however, and about five people clicked Dislike on my comment. You need to understand that Dislikes are pretty unusual, especially for me. Just yesterday some guy said that blacks were responsible for most crime, and that garnered one – count ’em – one Dislike. So to get five Dislikes, it was apparent to me I had rubbed people the wrong way.

Instead of trying to smooth things over, I just kept being pissy. Now, the atmosphere on the blog was kind of rough today, but my attitude didn’t help matters. In contrast to the humble disposition to the guy I had hit with my car, I didn’t back down.

In the end, one long-time Sloper declared that he was going to leave. I was hurt and puzzled by this, because it was not him that I got pissy at, and although my behavior wasn’t going to win me any awards, I didn’t think my attitude justified such a reaction. All the same, he left. I sent him an email asking him what was going on, but he hasn’t replied. So maybe he’s gone.

Now, if I went on to some financial blog – let’s say Big Picture – and told Barry I thought he was an asshole, I don’t think he would write me asking me what he could do to make things right (umm, just to be clear, I don’t feel this way about Barry, but I just wanted to name someone well-known who runs a financial blog). But I take my community very seriously, and when I, of all people, cause any kind of tumult, it grieves me.

Suffice it to say that I’m not the sort to hit people with my car, and I’m not the sort who makes a habit of being rude to anyone. There are times that I slip, however, and for those I am sorry. Over the years, some people have left Slope, never to return. Some have left because of (temporary) rancor; some because they’ve given up on trading in this insane market; and some, like today, because I’ve done something to upset them.

So I apologize for not sticking to a higher plane of behavior. I try to set a good example, and sometimes I fall short of doing so. I hope you can understand. Good night.