A part of me smiled wryly on Wednesday when I got back to the lagoon car park and saw my two week old car had been swiped by someone else and there was no note offering insurance details or claiming responsibility.
I was a little bit pissed and also a little bit ‘meh’. It happens and sooner or later my shiny car was going to get less shiny and less new. This was a little quicker than I had hoped… And the really annoying part was that the cost to repair was exactly equal to the excess on my insurance policy.
Lose – lose…
So why was I smiling?
It took me back to a moment around 7 years ago when I entered the car park at IGA Quinns Rocks with my trailer in tow. At the end of a long days work I dropped in to pick up some food. As I left, my trailer scraped the white car next me. It didn’t feel bad, but a little bit of the gunmetal grey of my trailer was definitely showing on the clean white bumper.
I’d like to say it was negligible- but in truth it was scratched. It was damaged. I looked at the car – considered my options and then hopped back in and drove off.
Yep… I did it… ‘What a complete BASTARD!!’ you are thinking.
I agree. It was pretty low.
I actually drove off – told myself ‘it will polish out’ and I hit the road for home.
Sometimes we make bad decisions hey? Sometimes impulse just takes us into dark places and we have to live with the regret.
I chatted about it with Danelle as I knew I’d screwed up. I was ashamed and stunned at my own ability to be so selfish and cold. But what can do you do at that point?
Nothing really unless the next two times you visit that car park you see the same car parked there – and it’s obvious it’s the same car because it’s got your grey paint still smeared along the bumper.
I realised it was probably someone who worked in the shopping centre so I now had the chance to go and apologise – or not…
My first stop was the local Real Estate agent, who I did reticulation work for. I saw the receptionist.
‘Umm, just wondering if anyone here owns a white corolla with plate no ‘xzy’.
Got it in one.
‘Yeah – that’d be Jane. Do you want to see her?’
‘What shall I say it’s in regard to?’
‘Yes – she’ll understand.’
I was shown thru to an open office of 5 or 6 property managers and agents and Jane was there in the first booth.
I explained what had happened and apologised profusely for being a dick. And she laughed…
And then she told the girl next to her who had been quietly listening in anyway ‘You know how my car got swiped the other day? This is the guy who did it!’ And she laughed…
The word spread around the office and everyone took a look at ‘that guy’ and they laughed… I just smiled at my introduction, hoping none of them recognised me, both relieved and ashamed at the same time.
She actually didn’t care about her car.
‘Here’s my card and my details for insurance or for the cost of repairs. Just send me the bill’
She laughed again. ‘Ah don’t worry about it. It’s only a car! It will get plenty of other dings.’
I wasn’t one bit convinced she meant it – so I pressed her. ‘No look – my bad – double bad in fact- so please let me fix it’
She wouldn’t have a bar of it. Too much hassle with panel beaters – ‘thanks for dropping in – it’s given me a laugh’ – and that was it.
‘Well in case you change your mind’ I said and I left my business card with her.
I never did hear back from her. I guess these days she drives a white car with some gunmetal grey trim around the bumper. I left the office a bit embarrassed but with a weight lifted. I had been able to apologise and attempt to put things right.
So this week, when I saw my car – and no note left to claim responsibility I chuckled (a little) because out there someone is carrying the weight of knowing they have screwed up and left someone else with a bill they shouldn’t have to pay.
Maybe one day they will also see my car in the car park and we will have a similar conversation… and if we do I hope I can show the same grace that woman showed me.
And she’s right – it is just a car – a new one maybe – but there really are bigger fish to fry in life.
(And if you’ve ever done a similar runner and want to get it off your chest feel free to comment! I will hear your confession and absolve you of all wrongdoing:)