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My youngest daughter, Suzi, lives in Tauranga. She loves travel and is a great tramper. Last weekend, just for a change, she decided to explore the west coast of Auckland and Waikato, visiting places like Manukau Heads, Port Waikato and Waiuku as well as some west coast beaches. She had a lovely time.

You could be forgiven for thinking that this might turn out to be a travel blog! But no ...

She set out for home on Monday, knowing that she was about to embark on night duty for a month and wanting to allow time to relax. Just west of Hamilton, she pulled off the road to study the map. Fortunately, she left her seat belt on and was leaning forward to read the map on her passenger seat.

Suddenly, she was violently shunted from behind into a concrete wall in front. 

A driver going the other way immediately parked and ran across the road to find that the offending driver was trying to claim that it was Suzi's fault! He soon put that right as Suzi was not only off the road but also well outside the fog line. It transpired that the other woman was a learner driver, driving alone, in an unregistered and uninsured car. However safely we might drive, how do we avoid situations like this? 

Suzi told the ambulance officers that she was barely hurt but the other driver was taken to hospital with breathing difficulties. By that time, she had been processed by the police who arrived very quickly and she will doubtless face several charges. Suzi was only concerned that she would be OK.

Suzi rang me when she got home, having had to travel for several hours by bus from Hamilton (the police took her to the bus depot) to Tauranga where a friend rescued her and brought her home. She was about to post some of the photos on Facebook and didn't want me to be worried so she rang! I was amazed at how calm she was. I think I would have been a lot more offended and frustrated! It couldn't have been much worse or more unexpected and shocking, especially after a beautiful and tranquil holiday exploring peaceful sights and sounds. 

She was certainly making her thoughts count ...

I suspected that things might change overnight. Sometimes bruising takes an hour or a day or two to manifest itself and I did wonder if sadness and frustration might surface when the reality of the friend she had lost, and how much she now had to fit into her busy life, sank in. So I booked a plane to Tauranga the next day - just in case support was needed! Meanwhile, her insurance company had organised for her to pick up a hire car immediately and told her she could keep it for a week. The moral of that story is, 'make sure your insurance covers all eventualities' - especially valuable when you're hit by someone who has no insurance at all.

She came off night duty on Wednesday morning, went home for a quick nap and then met my plane. She was definitely pretty sad (she loved that car) and I thought a visit to Tauranga Toyota might take her mind off her munted little Toyota, sitting alone in a wrecker's garage in Hamilton.

It did, and we were incredibly lucky! There just happened to be a manual car on the lot that seemed almost identical to hers, just three years younger and a different colour, but within her price range! Not knowing whether her car would be written off or not, she couldn't actually buy it but she put down a refundable deposit to secure it and off we went home so that she could get some more sleep before her night shift.

To cut a very long story short, her insurance company, AA, were responsive, helpful and remarkably quick. The phones rang hot on Thursday between the AA, Toyota, Hertz and her Bank.

On Friday morning she finished work at 7.30 am, drove to Hertz, dropped off the hire car, walked to Toyota, picked up her new car and was home by 8.30 am. Remarkable!

After a morning sleep, she drove us to Hamilton to pick up the remaining detritus from her car that she hadn't been able to carry on the bus. By 4.30 we were home again, all done and dusted.

All that remains now is for her to get used to the feel of her new car so that it can take the place in her mind of what she has lost. And, of course, for the bruises and stiff neck to fade.

Meanwhile, because everything was taken care of so efficiently by everyone concerned, we had a weekend to spare - just 'to be' - before I flew home on Tuesday ...

And that's always a treat.

It's your thoughts that count - when the unexpected happens

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