California, here we come…

Unless I miss my guess, Texas housewife Gloria Aker should be considering a move to California at her earliest opportunity.

According to a recent Associated Press report, Aker and her two children were enjoying a summer day at her West Texas home last July when the U.S. Air Force inadvertently dropped a bomb on her house.

Fortunately, it was only a dummy training bomb and nobody was seriously injured.

Unfortunately, the dummy bomb – dropped during a routine-for-everyone-but-Aker practice mission – crashed through the roof of her domicile, shot through a bathroom, broke through one wall and then screwed itself six feet into the ground. Shortly thereafter, it released marker smoke throughout Aker’s batttered bungalow to make it easier for the Air Force to retrieve its wayward cylinder of surprises.

Not to worry, though – AP reports that the Air Force not only removed the bomb from Aker’s home, but paid her the princely sum of $12,000 for the unexpected intrusion.

Hoo-eee, $12,000! With that kind of money and a nickel, Aker will be able to buy a used Buick and a case of Rebel Yell whiskey…

You can bet Ms. Aker wouldn’t be sitting in the wreckage of her home counting chump change if she was living here in the Golden State, where men are men and everybody else is an attorney. Twelve thousand dollars is what people in Silicon Valley pay for a nicely decorated refrigerator crate and 8 square inches of land on the edge of a toxic waste dump.

If Aker’s home had been hit by a stray bomb in California, she’d probably own Travis Air Force Base by now and, most likely, be accorded the rank of full colonel for the duration of her occupancy.

I don’t know how they award civil damages in Texas, but here in California they tend to be rather, er, generous. And that’s for complaints like willfully causing temporary annoyance and consternation.

Drop a bomb through a house around these parts, amigo, and you’d better have big pockets or find a way to blame it on substandard karma.

We can start with $1.5 million for the roof. Ask any California roofing contractor. Just about any hole in the roof – caused by a bomb or a bird dropping – costs roughly $1.5 million to repair, particularly if a lawsuit is involved.

Then there’s the bathroom. That’s good for about $3.8 million – $5 million if you’ve got a sympathetic jury, $7 million if it takes out the toilet and a really, really big chunk of change if the toilet was occupied at the time.

And don’t forget that wall. Whenever a bomb crashes through a wall in California, you’re looking at $1 million in general damages alone. If the wall was painted, insulated or abutted another wall that also was damaged by the aforementioned aerial training device, you can toss in another million or so depending on whether you live in Saratoga or Suisun City.

Finally, any time the Air Force bombs your house, it’s going to cause some emotional distress. I don’t know what they call it in Texas, but in California this is referred to as”harshing one’s mellow,” as in “Dude, was that, like, a bomb? Cease and desist, man, yer harshin’ my mellow.”

The latter cause of action is always good for $8 to $10 million in California unless your attorney is a complete doofus.


Originally published January 12, 2003