Thursdays are the days I am now off work, looking after my two and a half year old Dylan. Last Thursday our bonding experience took some reinforcement as we had to handle the unexpected together.
Returning to our parked car after shopping at a pharmacy we were just in time to watch this guy driving the Ford Falcon station wagon, formerly parked in parallel next us, smash into our car. First, he reversed out of his spot; then he turned right to get out of the parking lot, misjudged the amount of clearance he had from the back of my car, and smashed into it. He moved on to get out of the parking lot, which is when I blocked the exit and engaged in conversation with him through his now open window.
“Did you see that”, I asked.
“Yes”, he answered.
“Did you know that was my car you just hit?”, I asked again.
“Oh…”, he answered, and you could see the dark cloud going over his face as he answered. He went on to get out of the car; I took his details (he wasn’t the least bit interested in mine) and we examined the damage. Didn’t look like much – he suggested I stick it with tape – but I insisted on the full on process; I’ve had enough experience to know that significant damage can take place without much in the way of visible clues. Turned out the guy was a pensioner that, if you were to ask me, should no longer sit behind the wheel. Especially if he’s going to hit cars and then say he can’t pay for the damage.
At the risk of sounding like the nerd that I am, I will add that the ritual of collecting info and evidence about the accident has been made incredibly simple through modern gadgetry. In particular, the iPhone: I took a few snaps of the crime scene, and the with the click of a finger the iPhone recorded the precise location of the incident on a Google Map together with the time. Makes you want to have an accident just to enjoy feeling like that incredible amount of money you spent on a toy is worthwhile.
Dylan, all the while, sat in his stroller – I positioned him under the shade of our car at the start of this affair – and watched the unrolling events silently with mild curiosity.
Wanting to get this off my to do list as soon as I can, I called my car insurance after putting Dylan to his afternoon sleep. There I was told that given my suspicions for a minimal damage I can go to an assessor first and decide whether I want to file an insurance claim or not.
Thus when Dylan woke up I had to fight with him to take him to the assessment center – it was yet another delightful attempt to show me whose boss. After weighing things up quickly in my head I figured it was now or never (or rather, next Thursday), so I used the force to put Dylan on his car seat and off we went. A few minutes later he relaxed enough to say it was nice to go out in the car together, the little devil.
At the assessment center Dylan has had a great time watching cars being lifted, cars half assembled, and lots of men messing around with tools and cars. Must be his current definition of heaven. Eventually, our car was assessed and the initial instincts turned out to be true (I hope!): The damage was limited to my spare wheel cover; the spare wheel itself seems to have absorbed the rest of the impact.
Then I learned a quick lesson on how car companies make their money. Well, turns out Honda charges $282 on a vinyl cover for a previous model Honda CRV’s spare wheel. Must be made of gold, this vinyl.
So I called the hitman again to ask if he’s going to give me the cash or whether I should make an insurance claim. He asked me to call him in two weeks as he’s going to Sydney for a few days (obviously, he can afford that); I answered I’m happy to wait, but I also intend to take no more delays. An insurance claim will hurt him more than it would me, and I’m not planning on having my car put for sale – eventually – with a spare wheel cover screaming “accident damage”.
The thing that troubles me the most about this entire experience? Not the fact this was a completely preventable and redundant experience; mistakes happen all the time, and I have had my own share of silly parking lot accidents that were all my preventable fault. No, the thing that annoys me is the fact the guy was trying to get away from the scene when I caught up with him.
Human decency, it seems, applies only to the point we get personally disadvantaged by it.