Not to go all Prairie Home Companion on you, but it’s been a busy few weeks here at Snakes in the Grass. So much so, that I’m starting to be a little concerned about the seven loyal readers who dutifully follow our adventures here. I want no impeachment articles to be levied against little ‘ol me after all; so it’s therefore best that I start doing my part in defending and upholding the constitution of this blog.
Transcripts and the surveillance of phone conversations are all the rage in the headlines right now. I can appreciate that too because I’ve got my own problems in that department. While I personally haven’t been violating campaign laws, I have been found guilty at least four times now of braking too hard, at least according to my new insurance company. The judge and jury for this is a small little box that’s plugged into some whatsamacallit under my dashboard.
You see, my car insurance is spying on me.
But I’m slightly ahead of myself here, though. Let me unpack this for you…
Several months ago, you might recall that in my quest for some sinfully greasy and high-cholesterol egg foo young, I ended up paying dearly for it by getting into a fender-bender. The police determined that I wasn’t at fault, but my insurance company — we won’t name it here, but their spokesman is green and has a tail — ignored that and still found me guilty. As the clock started to tick to the end of my policy term with them, I decided it might be a good idea to shop around for a policy with a different company.
After a few days of shopping in July, I signed up with a new company who offered me a better rate. And this was even after I honestly told them about my little Chinese food escapade (emphasizing the police report, of course). They put me on hold for a few of minutes to enter my name into some database, and then came back to proclaim me as a worthy and upstanding driver. They hereby offered me a rate $30 lower than what I had been paying at the previous company.
Ha! Take that you little green vermin with the fake Aussie accent.
I’m slightly shy in telling you the name of the new insurance company. This is in part due to my now having a better appreciation of how search engines work, courtesy of a post I wrote a handful of years ago about a former life insurance policy I had (suffice to say it’s my most-read post, and the company which held the policy is currently involved in a class-action lawsuit with former customers). So while I don’t wish to mention the name of my new car insurance provider, I can at least show you the woman who sold me the policy:
Who hasn’t seen her?!
As I was sealing the deal for the new policy, I asked if they had any other discounts for which I might be eligible. I’m a male about to turn 60; I was positive they’d bend over backwards to give me an even lower rate, right? Ahem. But wait, it turns out they could! And all it would cost me is 100% of my driving privacy for the next six months.
Privacy, shmivacy. Who cares?!
P.T. Barnum never had it so right. I am indeed a sucker.
For another $40 reduction, I totally agreed to have the company monitor our driving for the next six months. Our rate can potentially be further reduced, or it could actually be raised if they determine we aren’t the safe drivers I’ve represented us to be. But with nary a speeding ticket, and only an MSG-fueled parking lot mishap recently, I decided to accept their offer. My savings was now a full $70 under what I had paid to the green reptile.
It wasn’t until we received the device after our policy period started that I actually discovered how they measure one’s driving. They’re basically looking at two things: (1) how much you slam down on your brakes, and (2) the degree to which you then slam down on your accelerator after you lift up on said brake (in other words, the famed “jack rabbit” start). Both measures, but in particular the one for braking, can ostensibly determine how reckless of a driver you are. They also look at the number of hours a car is driven and the general times in which you use the car (i.e. allegedly lots of night driving is considered more dangerous).
We’re practically the little old lady who drives to the supermarket and church only. Except for us it’s the gym and then the supermarket. And sometimes we go to the beach, oh and then there’s also my part-time job once a week, and. then the public library, and… Oh, okay, so we’re not quite that proverbial old lady. But we really are home more than we’re out. I’m married to a workaholic who works from home after all.
Soon after plugging in the device and going out for our maiden drive with it, I approached a yellow light and then apparently pushed down too hard on the brake pedal as I came to a stop. “Beep-beep! Beep-beep!,” came from below the dashboard.
Not ten minutes later, as we entered a medical office parking lot, I had to quickly stop to avoid a car that was backing up and hadn’t noticed us. “Beep-beep! Beep beep!”
Dang. I’m not even getting an egg roll out of the deal.
Gorgeous was not pleased. “Why did you do this?! This is an invasion of our privacy!”
For the record, she didn’t say it was a witch hunt at least, which I suppose is some consolation.
It’s been mostly smooth-sailing since then, though. Gorgeous did receive a beep when she stopped too hard at a stop sign, and I got one as I approached and stopped at another traffic light. But for the most part I’m learning to lift up on the gas sooner as we approach a red light, apply the break gently, and probably come to more rolling stops than I may have previously. I’ve never been one for fast get-aways, so any rapid acceleration in my six cylinder car is probably never going to be a factor.
They allow customers to log in and view the driving reports. Below is a screen capture of ours:
I’ll know in January how we’ve done when they ask us to mail back the device, and also give us our quote for the next six months. Until then I’m begging you, please don’t slam on your brakes if you’re driving ahead of me. Those beeps are soul crushing.
Until next time…