If You’re not going to leave your insurance info, at least leave a note
By Jennifer Hadley 01/29/2009
Life isn’t fair and I know that. My parents beat that axiom into my head from the time I was a child. But that doesn’t make it any less annoying when something wholly unfair happens to you. Like when someone smashes into your car, leaving a giant dent adjacent to the headlight, with a matching six-inch scrape along the front quarter panel. And neglects to tell you. Or leave a note.
Such blatant inconsideration is enough to make a normally peaceful gal like me want to hit something. Like the person responsible — and maybe with my car. The only problem is that I don’t know who committed the dastardly deed. So instead, I’m relegated to cursing the faceless ne’er-do-well profusely, which also isn’t fair because I resolved again this year to clean up my potty mouth. But in this situation, four-letter words are frankly the only outlet for my rage, goshdarn it.
While I’m sure that plenty of people just like me wake up each day to find themselves the victims of similar wrongdoings (or much, much worse), it still feels incredibly personal when it happens to you. You’ve parked your dent-free car at the restaurant, the strip mall, or the gym and you come out at night, hop in your car and go home none the wiser. The next morning, in the light of day, you secretly hope your eyes are playing tricks on you because … Holy cow, that’s a big dent!
Soon afterwards, you realize that if you plan to repair your car, you’ll be forced to pay for something that wasn’t your fault. How unfair! Even more, unfair is the fact that in my case, I probably won’t get the dent and the scrape fixed as I have a $500 deductible on my insurance policy and I’m fresh out of an extra $500. So I’m stuck driving a banged-up car.
I’m not saying that I’ve never accidentally bumped into things. In fact, I bump into things on a regular basis. Every Wednesday, for example, I back right into my neighbor’s garbage cans. But my neighbors know that I do this because I’ve told them. Now every week they laugh and wave as I crash into the cans, and it’s all in good fun. Similarly, when I accidentally backed into a house over the holidays, I didn’t hightail it out of there like the ratfink who bashed in my car. Instead, I made it my first order of business upon entering the house (I happened to be attending a party there) to find the hostess and let her know I crashed into her house. Incidentally, such things apparently happen all the time, and she merely laughed it off. The point is that when you damage someone else’s belongings, even if it was an accident, you should tell them! And for crying out loud, if you can’t tell the person you have crashed into their car, leave a note!
In a perfect world this note would include (truthful) contact information and reassurance that insurance would cover the damage. But, if not, I’d be willing to settle for just a little letter that says “I’m really sorry, but times are tough, and I can’t afford to pay for this. But I really am sorry. I didn’t mean to bash into your car.”
For me at least, the apology would take some of the sting out of it. I’d look at the note and realize that all in all I have it pretty good, and maybe the person who hit me is in worse financial trouble than I am. And I’d remember to be grateful for all the blessings in my life, instead of wanting to hurt someone for being so very inconsiderate. My car would still be damaged through no fault of my own, which is unfair; but as I well know, life is unfair, and I’ve learned to cope with that. The note would just make the coping easier.
Contact Jennifer Hadley at firstname.lastname@example.org.