i came out of work on a slick, rainy November night last year and found a note on my windshield, a car ownership first for me. i was already grouchy because i stayed late and missed my nightly yoga class in the process.
the message was from a woman named lisa who hit my left front bumper, was very sorry, and wanted to exchange insurance info.
not knowing what to expect, i checked the damage. there were just a few small dents and a little scrape, something i could’ve done myself with a hammer and misdirected rage after a few drinks.
unclear about next steps, i called my parents. they promptly tried to lead me down their habitual path of “what if…?” suggested hypotheticals ranged from the mild (‘what if the number’s disconnected and you have to pay for repairs?’ and ‘what if she’s lying and wants to rob you?’) to the absurd (‘what if she’s actually representing a south American cartel and is looking for recruits?’)
“calm down, people,” i intervened. it was definitely going to be ok: the note was penned in the soft, loopy handwriting of the well adjusted, she wanted to go the legal route, she had a normal name.
plus, for an inaugural car accident, this was ideal. first, no one was hurt. second, i was spared the trauma of witnessing it. third, the car was fine. fourth, there was no controversy. the woman hit my parked car. slam dunk for JG. this was overwhelming good karma, or should i say, carma? in a city ruled by cars, the only surprise was it took three and a half years for one to injure mine.
but my thoughts could’ve easily taken a darker turn, for example, ‘i already missed yoga and now this? what a hassle, who needs these annoyances right before Thanksgiving? getting a rental car is such a pain, how unfair to be inconvenienced by another’s mistake.’ while i was a little freaked out, i recovered quickly and chose to take it one step at a time.
i promptly added “LISA HIT MY CAR” to my contacts but delayed calling. how do you start that conversation? ‘ah, hello. it’s come to my attention that you hit my car…’ eager to expose international drug traffickers, my mom started sending “did you call perp?” texts in the following days. “no,” i’d reply. “it’s Saturday,” or something equally unrelated. “i see.” was her steely response.
lisa and i eventually talked and she was as lovely as her handwriting suggested. all i had to do was pick a repair shop. but the more i thought about it, the less inclined i was to get the car fixed. the damage was so minor and the unfamiliar car insurance bureaucracy so ludicrous i couldn’t be bothered. plus, now the car looked like a seasoned veteran of the LA roads. it had a story, a checkered past.
the alternative to car repair at an approved shop was cashing out, where the insurance company gives you a check to cover repairs at the facility of your choice. this option definitely appealed, both financially and because it fed my deep-seated dislike for following unnecessary rules.
although it’s legal cashing out is not condoned. thus, it entailed a lot of time both on the phone with the insurance company and at car repair shops, where i led my double life of sorts, pretending to want the repairs but really just craving the check. to further complicate matters, only a few shops have insurance people on hand to write estimates. i could go on but the point is the process was a little irritating and a bit of a production. however, i remained patient and persistent throughout.
eventually, an insurance company representative inspected the car and wrote me a check so i could “get the repairs done” where i wanted. the total was $1600, an amount higher than that provided by even the sketchiest repair guy i encountered.
and what did i do with the money, you ask? i bought a new macbook air, on which i am typing right now. to date, this is my most comprehensive story of positive energy coming back to me.
there’s no doubt that particular woman hit my car instead of some feckless teenager borrowing his father’s Mercedes.
the next time something unexpected happens, why not reserve judgments of good or bad. who knows? why not see it through? you just might be rewarded.