Wednesday, October 17, 2007

How to make $500 in 10 seconds.

So, today I saw a little fender bender.

It reminded me of when I was a harried mom to a new baby (nearly six year ago, when little one was nearly one).

I stopped at one of our busier lights in the morning, behind a line of cars. The first cars started to go, and, as I looked left and noticed a vast emptiness where oncoming cars would have been, I eased my foot off of the brake and started to roll forward as I looked back in front of me.

"pfft" said my bumper, ever so quietly, as I rolled (from a complete stop) into the car in front of me.

Was it a mercedes?


Was it a Jag?


A new SUV?


It was a ten year old P.O.S. owned by a 17 year-old girl.

I said, "Gosh I'm sorry, I rolled into you, here is my card, I am a professor at middling college across town, give me a call if you need to fix the new divot in your bumper".

"Oh, my gosh, I need to call my dad"

Then - "Oh my gosh, my dad is calling the police, they'll be here any moment."

I waited while the baby cried in the car, in my arms, in the car, in my arms, waved as all of my colleagues from Middling College drove by on their way in and waved, nodded, (chuckled).

The cop finally arrives.

First, he's all "You don't need a police officer for this small claim".

Then, he's all "Well, you'll have to pay to fix all this damage on the bumper"

And, I'm all "Yeah, I can pay to fix it, but all my car left was this one little divot where the screw holds my license plate on, see the dirt in all of the other scratches?"

He's all "How fast were you going"?

I'm all "oh, about one... no really, maybe two miles per hour".

He's all like, "Ok, kiddo... why did you need me?"

She's all, "My daddy said to call you"

So. In the end, she called me about a week later to tell me that she had an estimate from a body shop. The repairs to replace the "skin" over the entire bumper was $500. Please send a check immediately.

I waffled briefly about making the check payable only to the body shop. Then, I sent the young woman my penance for a sleepy morning.

I know she didn't get it fixed (if it were important, she'd have fixed the other dings, bumps, and scrapes all over the bumper).

I am really angry at the parents for setting such a crap example. Someone else's bad moment is not your opportunity to make a few bucks.

Which is why... when someone else bumped into me at that intersection... two months before then, and left several dings (that I won't bother to fix) on my bumper, I told her to have a good day, smiled, and went along on my way.


Jonathan said...

It's good old American "blame culture".

We inherited it for a while in the UK, but there appears to be a huge backlash against it, and common sense is prevailing once more.

It came down to local government having to tarmac entire towns - including green areas - because they had so many claims following people slipping or tripping.

BOSSY said...

That is one sad bedtime story.

Kari said...

Blah! My husband hit our neighbors P.O.S (blizzard and neighbor parked behind our driveway!) He took the money and bought yet another P.O.S that he parks behind our driveway too. Nice. Gotta love living the dream.