While picking up groceries on my lunch break today, I had a minor fender-bender. I was backing out, and it turns out another car on the opposite side a few spaces down started backing out shortly after I did. I had just stopped reversing and turned my head to look forward again when I saw the back of a car headed straight at me. I beeped the horn, but not before there was a crunch as the back of the other car collided with my driver’s side door.
I pulled back into my space and hopped out, as did the other driver, who looked aghast. After confirming she was okay, we inspected the damage to my car. The driver-side mirror was folded in (many thank you’s to the genius who designed side-mirrors that fold instead of breaking), and there was a big round circular scratch where her bumper had hit the door, as well as some other scratches. Surprisingly, there was no dent; I’m guessing the door must have bounced back when the car pulled away, leaving a circular scratch but no permanent deformation.
I turned to the woman and said, “It’s just a scratch, just cosmetic. It’s fine. Don’t worry about it.”
She was immediately relieved. She had apparently just walked off her job after an argument with her boss, and she had been praying that nothing else went wrong that day, at which point she backed into me. I told her I hoped her day improved from there, and we went on our way.
Living in an urban world, I long since came to accept that scratches, dings, and even dents were just a normal part of doing business. I’m driving a 2008 Honda Civic Hybrid, not a Lexus. As long as it does not affect the functionality of the car and is not likely to lead to future problems like rust, what do I care? On the flipside, filling out an accident report, filing a claim, getting a damage estimate, and getting it repaired are going to just create a lot of headaches and time lost for both me and the other driver.
Besides, this is nothing compared to the damage from when I ripped off the side of my bumper after I clipped a fire hydrant while turning around in a parking lot. That did need to get repaired, but before I had a chance to bring it into the shop, the guy painting my house looked at it and said it was an easy fix (he was a former mechanic). One day, he just screwed it back in for me, and it has held up just fine for the last year and a half.
So perhaps sending this woman on her way was my repayment of my karmic debt for the free bumper repair. Hopefully she will pass along the favor to someone else down the road.
And, hopefully, when it is my turn to make the stupid mistake, someone will take pity on me. Of course, I probably won’t get that lucky.