Naughty or nice?

Naughty or nice?

Some heroes and villains of the road sure to be on Santa’s list this Christmas

By Jennifer Hadley 12/24/2009

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When the small business you run is on the verge of going belly-up and you’re utterly apathetic about finding new clients — because you’re pretty sure the world is going to end in 2012 anyway — you find yourself with a lot of time on your hands. In my case, this means that my imagination begins to run wild. So this week, I let my imagination take me to a place where I’m Santa Claus, (while simultaneously being the Wheels columnist for PW) and I’ve set about making my “Naughty or Nice” list.  
This started last week, when my car was involved in another accident. I say “my car” because I wasn’t in it and, for the first time this year, it wasn’t my fault. I had parked at 7-Eleven on Sunday morning and ran in to grab a cup of that delicious hazelnut coffee they sell. Upon leaving the store, I find a woman in a Saturn wagon has backed into my car. Her taillight is smashed to bits and there is glass and plastic imbedded in my fender.  
“Rats!” I exclaim joyfully, because come on, ’tis the season, right? I look at the fender and it’s scratched, but it’s not badly damaged. “I don’t think we need to call anyone. This is no big deal,” I say to the stout, elderly lady.  
“Of course it’s no big deal! The damage is all on my car!” 
Wait, what? Is she seriously mad at me? My car was parked. In an actual space and everything! I didn’t cause this. Blowing off her half-empty mentality, I helped her clean up the broken glass and plastic. She was huffing and puffing the whole time. And then she did something incredible: She jumped in her car and drove off.
It took me a few minutes to process this whole situation. But by the time I walked into church, I realized that she never even apologized! And boy, if I was Santa, she’d be on the naughty list.
So, riding that train of thought, I decided to make a list of people or companies falling under the umbrella of “Wheels” and see how they stacked up. 
Here are my Naughty and Nice lists:
My neighbor Cheryn, who was utterly gracious when I crashed into her beautiful white Ford Explorer. She didn’t even submit the claim to insurance. What a doll! 

EZ-Lube in Toluca Lake. They didn’t try to sell me any unnecessary extra crap. And they gave me a discount on a new battery. 

A nice policeman. He didn’t give me a ticket for texting — just asked me to turn on my headlights while driving through downtown LA at night.

A parking ticket cop who saw me running at 8:05 a.m. to move my car for street sweeping and gave me a pass. 

A locksmith in Beverly Hills.  He was there in 15 minutes flat after I locked my keys in my car and didn’t even notice that I was parked at my therapists’ office.  


CEOs of the Big Three. A private plane, really? When you’re begging for money? Tsk, tsk. That hack repair guy who told me he could fix my car cheaply and it would look “good as new.”  It does not. It looks just plain awful.

Cash For Clunkers. Call it a hunch, but I have a feeling this program is going to bite us in the you-know-what.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for reinstating the “car tax.” Not cool. Twelve percent of us are unemployed, buddy. 

That ne’er do well who didn’t leave a note. I’m still reeling from the big dent in the Xterra that s/he left, but didn’t own up to. 
There are probably a lot of others I’ve left off my list, but Santa doesn’t have enough time to make extensive lists AND check them twice, so I’ll leave it at that. But, for the mean lady who clearly doesn’t get the whole Christmas Spirit and crashes into people without apologizing; just know that I still win. Because I went to church and prayed for you — so there. 

Contact Jennifer Hadley at 


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