"Not Responsible For Damage - Stay Back 500 Feet"

November 20, 2005

If you live in a large city sooner or later you will see a construction dump truck, or cement mixer, rolling down the road or highway in front of you. They all have the same legend painted on the back:

NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR DAMAGE - STAY BACK 500 FEET

The idea is, by painting this warning (usually too small to read clearly until you are well within the 500 foot limit) the company and operator of the vehicle is not responsible for bits of rock, debris, concrete, et cetera, that fall off the truck and damage your vehicle.

Actually I think what they mean to say is "We won't be held liable, under any circumstance, for damages caused to your vehicle by the improper operation of ours. Because we painted this sign on our truck, we can now act like irresponsible children and get away with it."

And no matter what they paint on the truck, they are responsible. They didn't properly clean all the cement off the equipment in the back. They were driving 20 miles an hour slower than the flow of traffic, causing a mini-traffic jam behind them as people tried to go around. They dropped a Danielle Steel novel-sized chuck of concrete on the interstate in front of my car.

With traffic on both sides of me, and some cretin tailgating me from behind I did the best I could to not precipitate a three or four car pileup and still miss the bounding hunk of rock headed towards my car. The passenger side of the front bumper is cracked and the fog/drivng light assembly has been knocked back into the cavity behind its normal position. I'll have to go get an estimate this week, but I expect it'll be at least a $1000, maybe $1500 as the bumper is all one piece, and the whole freaking thing will have to be replaced.

Not responsible for damage? I don't think so. You are so totally responsible for the damage. I am going to release you from any debt though. I don't want karma with you. I just hope that you contract a virulent strain of leprosy and rot for the rest of your life.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.