Fender Bender–Her Fault


What would you have done?

Last year, while I sat in my parked car, I felt a jolt. More than a bump but less than a crash.  The mid 20 year-old woman swinging into the parking spot next to me misjudged and hit my bumper.

When I inquired with the young woman, her mother, who was sitting next to her, told me it must have been the snow.  Snow hit my car?  What snow?  How?  I checked my rear bumper.  There were two small chips in my silver, plastic bumper. On her car there were definitive silver marks where her bumper had scraped against mine.  The mother, inspecting the scrapes, said my car was blue so the scrapes on her daughter’s car couldn’t be from my car.  The woman wasn’t playing with a full deck.  Did I mention my bumper is silver?

I ignored the mother and took the daughter’s information.  The two small chips didn’t seem to warrant calling the police.  To my untrained eye, it looked like they could easily be touched up.  I said as much, but before parting ways, the mother went berserk. She screamed that her daughter didn’t hit my car (um–I was sitting in the car when it happened) and that I should call the police.  Her daughter apologized.  I said I’d call her in a day or so.

An auto body shop’s estimate was $600 to remove and sand the bumper.  That seemed steep, even if I wasn’t the one paying for it.  Two car parts stores suggested getting touch-up paint which cost $10.  At one car parts shop, the guy rolled his eyes when told about the $600 estimate.  At the other, the guy said I had a “kind heart” when I showed him the chips and told him I intended to touch them up myself.

I like my car, but it already had some bumps and bruises.  If I had backed into something, I would fix them myself.  Was it worth the trouble of involving the police and insurance companies? Then I wondered what would that young woman have done if I had hit her car?

When I called the daughter to tell her the range of estimates, I wanted her to know that she was dealing with a kind heart.  And I wanted her to thank me for my kindness. Was that too much to ask?  She proceeded to tell me about the rough time she was having, what with a cousin being murdered and all. (What?!)  I told her sorry to hear, that this situation could be resolved quickly, and that it needn’t be among the awful things she was going through.  Maybe I’m sympathetic.  Or gullible. Or both.

I got her $10 in the mail.

Hon, what would you have done?

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