…or at least get an eye exam.
Tim, age seventy-seven, felt small and embarrassed sitting in the wood-paneled, high-ceiling U.S. Bankruptcy Courtroom. He was there because he did not see a STOP sign. Thankfully Tim and his wife, Irene, were not hurt. The three people in the car he hit all had hospital stays from two to five weeks. He never dreamed that hospital bills could cost so much for one, let alone three people. Tim visited all three in the hospital and apologized to each for the harm he caused.
Irene had been hinting for over a year that Tim needed to get his eyes checked. He thought she was just nagging as she always did. He remembered the month before the accident she told him he drove through a red light. He reminded her that he never had a ticket and he used to teach high school kids how to drive. In hindsight, maybe she was right.
Just that small mistake, driving through the STOP sign, took away the financial security Tim and Irene had set aside to help pay their expenses after they retired. They were so proud to have saved five hundred thousand dollars when they retired Tim had worked as a mechanic and Irene was a school cafeteria worker during most of their marriage. Their two-bedroom house was paid off. Their only income was social security and Irene’s small pension from the state.
The people he hit (who asked that he pay for their medical and other expenses) sued Tim. When it was all over, the court ordered Tim to pay one million two hundred thousand dollars in damages. His car insurance only paid three hundred thousand dollars.
He was in the bankruptcy court this morning to protect the few assets he and Irene had left. They lost all their savings and would be lucky to keep their home. He felt he failed Irene by losing their retirement security. Tomorrow he would look for a job as a greeter at Wal-Mart.
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