The Accident

Or, rather, the “Accident” … as it was actually quite intentional.

I recently stumbled upon the pictures associated with the event, and since this is one of our “life stories” that we tell folks about from time to time I decided to share here…

This all takes place on Friday the 13th of December, 1985.

That was the day of the Microsoft Christmas Party. Kathy and I were living in Mountlake Terrace, and Microsoft was located not where they are today, but rather in buildings on either side of highway 520 on the Bellevue/Kirkland border.

Because of the party Kathy was kind enough to drive me to work that morning so we could carpool that evening.

I was in a meeting (with Greg Post, if I recall correctly) discussing office networking that would be put into place in the new buildings we were to move into at Microsoft’s new campus under construction a few miles to the east. My friend Dennis Canady ended up tracking me down and told me that my wife was on the phone with an emergency call. (Kudos to Dennis for realizing that I was using a DOS based TSR utility called “Ready” to organize my day at the time – he poked around on my computer and located it, and in turn, me.)

“Mrs. _____ tried to kill me!”

Kathy was calling from the Mountlake Terrace police station. Something had happened, but it was difficult to get a clear understanding. Regardless of what had happened, it was clear I needed to get there, right now.

And me without a car.

Dennis to the rescue again, as he drove my to my home where I grabbed my truck and made my way to the police station.

This is what I found parked at the station (click for larger):

Kathy's Car - December 13, 1985

That’s Kathy’s car. It also had damage on the passenger side from being pinned to the hillside:

Kathy's car, passenger side

You can even see some of the hillside brush that came away with the car.

My reaction was the 1985 equivalent of WTF?!

As Kathy was returning home about a half mile from there was a small, short hill to drive up, one side of which was also brushy hillside.

As she was making her way up this hill a car pulled past her (this is important, as you’ll see shortly) on the left, slowed down, stopped, and then backed into the side of Kathy’s car so hard that the her car was quite literally shoved into the hillside. The car, with Kathy trapped inside, was pinned.

The driver of the car got out and started pounding on Kathy’s driver’s side window yelling “Quit following me!”. Yes, this was after this person had pulled up in front of Kathy from behind.

At one point this woman got back into the car and came back with what Kathy described as something shiny – perhaps a large wrench or something, and proceeded to pound on the window some more. Fortunately it did not break.

After doing that for a bit she got back into her (fairly large) car and drove off.

Now there are two things worth noting at this point.

  • We knew the woman. She was our next door neighbor.
  • One or two of her children, perhaps around 3 or 5 years old, were watching all this from the back seat of her car.

Kathy managed to turn her car around and drive it to the police station. From there it could only be towed, being just shy of totaled. (It was, in fact, repaired courtesy of our insurance company.)

When Kathy described what had happened and who had done it the police response was “oh, yeah, we know her”.

I say again … WTF?!

We always knew the neighbor was a little … off. She accused us, for example, of orchestrating all the neighborhood cats to come poop in her garden. She was also known to go randomly tambourine dancing for Jesus around her back yard. But to have the police know her by name is always unsettling, even if it did lend massive credibility to Kathy’s story (other than the children there were no witnesses).

The next several years were a series of missed and postponed court dates, depositions (where they tried to make this Kathy’s fault), hearing of this woman’s competency hearings and stays in mental institutions, and of course numerous delays. Eventually, to be completely honest, we simply lost track and moved on.

Like I said, this was our next door neighbor.

As a result within three months we’d sold our home (the first home we’d ever purchased) for a loss, and moved to Woodinville – many miles away. It’s difficult to sleep at night when you’re not sure if the next time your neighbor decides to do something she might be armed.

Oh, and if I recall correctly we went to the Christmas party anyway.

We needed it.

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