It's no secret that I've been critical of government in the past, but a recent event has completely restored my faith in the institution.

A few months back I was driving up Balboa Ave out of Pacific Beach on a windy, wet evening, and as I passed under I-5 I saw what I first thought was a hatbox blowing across the road in the wind. Despite my urge to blow it to smithereens with my car just for fun (how often do you get the chance to annihilate a hatbox just for kicks?), I instead swerved to avoid it - and boy was I glad I did. Even with quick reflexes and nimble BMW handling, I clipped the "hatbox" with my left front wheel, and it about ripped the wheel right off my car.

I whipped over to the side of the road, backed up to the scene of the crime, threw it in Park, hit the flashers, and jumped out to grab what turned out to not be a hatbox at all, but a water main cover! What a 60 lb.+ hunk of cast iron was doing rolling around in the road was anyone's guess - and my guess was the construction crew that has been working on this stretch of road since at least the Reagan Years had left it just sitting around waiting for some poor sucker like me to notice it.

Long story short, I threw it in my trunk and drove the rest of the way home breathing huge sighs of relief that the "hatbox" hadn't taken out my oil pan, or worse.

A few days later I took the car to BeeLine Brakes and Alignment for an estimate which totaled up nearly $400, including repairing a bent wheel rim and replacing some suspension bushings. I then sent a copy of the estimate along with some photos of the damage and the necessary claim form to the City of San Diego's Risk Management Department, requesting reimbursement for the damage.

Lo and behold, after about a month I now have a check. The whole process was very straightforward, and everyone I dealt with was courteous and efficient. Here's to my home city - Hip, Hip, Hooray!!!

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