We all have those times when negative energy seems to stick to us like glue, overshadowing everyday life with lethargy, leaving us dispirited and resentful without fully understanding why. It saps strength and creativity, sucking away fun and joy as easily as a Dementor removing your soul.
It doesn’t attack you head on in a violent assault, rather seeps through your bones absorbing all vitality and vivacity leaving an empty husk. Eyes which once saw the world as an exciting and vibrant playground now see it as jaded and tawdry.
There are various reasons why we can be reduced to despondent shells of our former selves; in my case it the relentless apathy of our Dutch car insurance company.
For nine long weeks, since the theft of our motor vehicle, we have endured their indifference. Happy enough to take exorbitant amounts of our money for years they have now reverted to type, looking for any possible loophole to blame us for the theft and void the insurance policy.
For the first three weeks of our loss we endured the interrogation and questioning of investigators and police, as did our insurance broker and regular garage. We were left in no doubt we were responsible for the situation we found ourselves in. It was only through the generosity and goodwill of the insurance company that our claim was being looked into at all.
At the end of three weeks there was a grudging attempt to value our missing vehicle should it not be found within a 30 day window. After 30 days the company would take ownership of the vehicle and we would receive the (under) valuation of the car. In their eyes the obvious motive for the theft of the car to start with.
On day 27, only three days to go to this cut-off point, at 4.59pm on a Friday afternoon, I received a phone call from our local police station to say our vehicle had been found. The police officer was beside himself with delight at the policing powers of the Dutch constabulary and a little surprised at my lukewarm response.
I had the same sick feeling in my stomach I experienced in 2005. Then I’d spent days adjusting to the fact we’d lost our home and belongings in Hurricane Katrina only to learn it was in fact still standing. Rather than jubilation you know, somewhere deep inside, that the process of rebuild and renewal will cost as much in the end as a total loss, if not financially at least emotionally.
That Friday afternoon, discovering my beloved car had been discovered in Brabant, used in three bank robberies and would be held by the police forensic team for at least two weeks, only added to my sense of doom and gloom. The prognosis was not good. I knew what would be involved during the weeks to come and sadly I have not been disappointed.
My car, when stolen, was in pristine condition having been serviced and detailed/valeted so the leather looked soft and welcoming and the carpets deep cleaned and spotless. Four beautifully blacked new tyres shone against the sparkling rims. It was like a new vehicle.
Only now some yobbos had raced it against police vehicles, wrecked the engine, damaged the leather interior. The back seat, torn and dirty, had been home to large concrete blocks, the driver’s seat ripped. The exterior was mud splattered and had been dragged along a wall or two on both sides, dinted and scraped.
We have endured adjusters, written and photographic reports, investigators, photographers, repairmen and are no nearer to resolution than we were six weeks ago. In the meantime my car has sat at the garage, alone, weary, sad and damaged. We have been advised not to have the car repaired as it will be impossible to sell, having its criminal record emblazoned on every car related computer screen in the land.
Our insurance company have been less than useless. After five weeks I managed to get a name and contact number for a company associate, who sounds as if he’s a member of the Moscow mafia. He only updates his caseload on a Friday afternoon when the rest of the world has gone home for the weekend. This ensures he has a quiet start to the following week, when it takes the rest of the world 2-3 days to catch up with emails from the previous Friday.
Dos he care about us? Absolutely not. Apathy and indifference are his middle names. During telephone exchanges he relishes telling me there is a real possibility the company will not pay out any money at all, that any decision, either way, is solely in his hands. At his discretion and depending on the phase of the moon.
I realised the situation was getting to me when I found myself, on Monday, considering the purchase of an AK47 on eBay. I had been fantasising about the violent demise of a faceless mafia wannabe. It was time to throw in the towel and hand all responsibility to my spouse.
One thing I haven’t mentioned, and don’t want to get started on here, is that although the Dutch pay lip service to equality, the reality is that some Dutch men can be chauvinistic in attitude and behaviour. Mafia Man is one of them. A moronic bully.
Gosh, did I really type that?
Mafia Man does not scare or intimidate me, but he does have the power to make my life more challenging than it already is. I have to bite the tongue that in different circumstances would demolish this Neanderthal to a babbling wreck with my acerbic put downs and rapier like ripostes.
Right now he holds all the cards and doesn’t he know it.
Tomorrow we should have a final decision. My spouse is well used to dealing with Neanderthals, the words ‘legal action’ and ‘dire consequences’ said calmly seemed to do the trick. The same words uttered by me didn’t seem to carry the same air of gravitas.
Keep your fingers crossed. I’m off to check my bid on eBay just as a back up . . .