I hit a car today. Not bad…just the driver’s side mirror…but, I hit it…and, it got to me.
It was one of those classic situations when their car was parked on a snow bank on the side of a busy cut-through side street. I was focusing on the car coming in my direction and watching to see if they were going to go or if I should go first, I waited for them to pass, and as they passed me I started to head on my way…without being careful to stay a safe distance from the parked car on the side 🙁
I’m not going to lie: I thought about not saying anything. I, literally, can’t believe I’m admitting to that…it makes me sick to (a) think it, and (b) write it publicly on this blog that’s often a place that people like to read things about how to be a better person…NOT how I’m entertaining thoughts of performing hit-and-run’s.
I had this rush of feelings about how guilty I would feel, how it is in conflict with our family value of “doing the right thing”, how awful it would feel for the owner of the car when they innocently walked up to their car and saw damage that they would then have to fix, what sort of example that would set for my children if they ever found out about it, how disgusting it would feel if Ben ever found out that I kept that from him, walking around with a secret like that like a murderer, and how Scandal has gotten into my head making me believe that once you perform a crime like that it’s just the beginning of a lifetime of crimes that reel out of control.
All for hitting someone’s side mirror…and, not notifying them somehow.
Bottom line for me was this: it’s not the right thing to do and I want to live a life of integrity, not one of wrongdoings and secrets.
So, I left a note.
Later on tonight, I get a phone call from one of Jonah’s friends dads, Brad. A guy who NEVER calls me and is only in my phone because he was doing a pick-up/drop-off one day years ago. I answered right away because I was so curious to see what he needed.
“HEATHER! I GOT YOUUU!!!” And, Brad’s laughing and sounding like he’s having the time of his life.
Seriously, all I kept thinking was how this poor guy who works a long day in Boston, commuting in and out on the train, has to walk all over the place in the slushy snow all day, had to come back to find his mirror bashed in and hanging by a measley cable from the side of his car, and now deal with trying to figure out how and when he’s going to find the time to get the thing fixed.
Lucky for me, Brad is maybe the MOST laid back human being I’ve ever met because he proceeded to spend the next 10 minutes telling me his side of the story about how the note I left him ended up being what he referred to as “good karma” for him.
Brad tells me this story about how there’s a blind woman who gets off at his stop in Natick Center and, because of all of the snow banks and messy sidewalks, he wanted to help guide her back to the elderly home that she lives in a few blocks past where he parks his car. After he dropped her off, he was talking to his sister on the phone as he walked back to his car. When he walked up to the car, he wasn’t really paying attention to anything other than what looked like a parking ticket on his windshield.
That was when he said to his sister, “OH MAN! I just did a good deed and I end up getting a parking ticket!?! MAN!”
Then, he read my note and was PSYCHED that it wasn’t a ticket, but a note from someone who wanted to pay for the damage to his mirror.
That’s the “good karma” he was talking about.
Man alive, this guy should be a disciple of Ben Bergeron’s, or something. For this guy to take something that most people would consider an enormous pain in the ass and turn it into what he somehow considered good fortune, is incredibly unique, special, and a lesson for all of us to learn from.
Not to mention how grateful I am that I came to my senses and made the right decision. Could I have gotten away with not saying anything and driving away without anyone knowing it was me? Probably. But, that’s exactly why I love having clearly established values that you can fall back on when you’re tempted to make the wrong, or “easy”, decision.
When that’s one of the five things on your list of family values, it makes it easy to figure out what to do.
DO THE RIGHT THING.
It’s that simple.