11.01.2010

on the karma payment plan.

I will concede that I was not paying close attention. I had just bought 4 shirts and 1 dress, all name-brand and new, for the grand total of a dollar. Perhaps if I had not just gotten such a great deal, I might have seen the old man's Ford before he backed it into my bumper as I drove through the parking lot. Maybe he had just gotten a good score, too, and he was too excited to check behind him before backing out into a bright red hatchback. If that is the case, then maybe people should wait a few minutes after a particularly good yard sale before operating a motor vehicle.

I heard the crunch and stopped immediately. I got out, trying not to freak out about the possible damage. He did the same, and I saw that he was old and very tiny - 5'6" at the most. I asked if he was okay, though it was inconceivable to me that anyone could have been injured in that low-speed collision.

"Yes, yes, I am fine." He was foreign, maybe from somewhere in Europe. He was somebody's tiny immigrant grandfather. His right back bumper looked terrible. It had a big dent in it, which was streaked with red. My car looked much better - just a few silver lines with no dent at all. I was relieved. I was just about to ask about exchanging insurance information, when-

"I give you a hug now." He came toward me, a giant hulking woman, and we had a brief, awkward hug. It was all very unexpected.

"Okay, bye now!" He said, getting back into his car.

Uh...

I felt a little strong-armed. Clearly, he was trying to get out of there. I had no intention of reporting the accident. Even if my bumper had ended up looking more like his, I wouldn't have done anything about it. It was sad to see my pretty little Honda Fit get damaged for the first time - the first in what will likely be a long process of changing from a new car into an old car. But that's what happens to cars, at least the cars I own. Just ask my old one.

But the little old man did not know that I wasn't the type to give a crap about a scratch or two. He did know that the accident was his fault. Maybe that's how he gets out of things - a hug and playing up the foreign grandfather bit. The very idea that he thought he was pulling one over on me made me want to be a jerk about it. Look here, old man, you're not fooling anyone! I coulda picked him up, you know, he was so tiny. I coulda just shook him upside-down until his wallet fell out, and then I woulda had his insurance info and his milk money!

But I wasn't a jerk and I didn't pick him up and give him a good shake. I waved goodbye, got into my severely depreciated car, and drove away. I was much more attentive as I headed down the road.

Later, I began to worry. What if this guy took down my tag number and reported it? Was he just trying to get out of paying for my tarnished bumper or was he going to try and run a scam?

I decided that I wasn't going to worry about it. Either scenario - the one where he was trying to avoid paying higher insurance or the one where I got arrested for a hit and run - was conceivable for me. Maybe I should have taken down his tag number or gotten his insurance information or something, just to be safe. That would have been the most prudent. But what I did was fine, too. I did the right thing, not necessarily in terms of protecting myself from non-decent people, but in terms of being a decent person. I'm just hoping that my good behavior will buy me something in the karma department.

2 comments:

Peggy said...

it might not buy you anything in the karma department, but it certainly bought you even more respect from me. i would not have been so nice, so i am especially proud of you. he might have been an angel sent to see how you treat little old men...if so, i think you passed that test.

Sandra said...

Would an angel try and get out of giving his insurance info? 8)