I was sitting at my desk minding my own business when I got a call from our Security Department. Someone had hit my car in the parking lot. In fact, they said it was a "hit n' run". "Fuck me", I said as I put on my coat and borrowed an umbrella to go check out the damage. The last thing we need right now is a car repair bill since we are teetering on the financial brink right now.
I arrive at the scene of the crime and ask the Security Office, "Who hits a parked car?" I then realized that the driver was standing there (so much for hit n' run or maybe they came back....I never did find out). She was in tears. I felt like shit for compounding how stupid she probably felt.
I inspect the damage. Scratches, no dents. Some will probably rub out but my driver's side bumper is noticeably scratched. My car is 3 years old which is brand new to me. I drive cars until they fall apart and then I get a roll of duct tape and keep on driving. Mr. Peeveme's car has about 200K on it. Mt last car was well over 140K, then we let me step son drive it and now we have lent it to my brother who has fallen on hard times. So while I'm not a slave to car-imagine I do try to keep my car nice because I will be driving it forever.
After inspecting the damage I look at the woman who hit me. She also hit the car next to me and that bumper was dented and really scratched. She was shaking and she was pushing back tears. She's saying how sorry she is in accented English. And I realize she is having a really bad day...perhaps the worst day of her year. I know I would be upset if I damaged two cars. I realized she needed a break.
I announce that it's not that bad and I don't need to fix it and didn't need to pursue it. She thanked me repeatedly. She was so anxious and practically distraught. I ended up trying to comfort her: It can happen to anyone, I'd be upset too but in the long run it's not a big deal, You seem really upset, is there anything I can do for you?". I think I even gave her a little hug.
I called Mr. Peevme and he was not mad but not happy. What if the damage is worse than I think? He also thought that if the other car was going to put in a claim then it wouldn't really make it worse to get our car fixed. I just asked him how many times we keep saying that we never get a break? Why can't thing just be easier for us? Well I just made someone's life easier and it didn't cost me a thing...not really.
I guess I am especially sensitive since our financial status is extremely bad and man, would I love someone to give me a break. And suddenly I was in that power position. I could give her a break...or I could make her fix minor cosmetic damage on my car. I was the person who could make this awful day for her a little less bad.
I hope when I see those scratches I will be reminded to look for opportunities to be THAT person. The one who makes life easier.