52% intelligent. 9% modest. More monkey than bear.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

don't slow down you're gonna crash

I had a little accident this morning.

I had just got into my car, and as it was facing the wrong way, I backed it into the neighbouring street to turn it around and head into work. As I was reversing my car, I bumped into a stationary car which was parked (badly) across the apex of the corner. I wasn't driving fast, but there was a definite impact. My initial reaction was that I couldn't have done any damage at that speed, and mindful of the fact that all the cars in my street have the little nicks and scratches associated with on-road parking, including mine, I drove on to work. As I pulled away though, I looked in my rear view mirror, and saw a yellow flash on the otherwise blue bumper. This played on my mind. Had I hit the car harder than I thought? I stopped a few streets further away and got out to have a look at the back of my car. Nothing. Barely a scratch. I shrugged, and rationalised that whatever I saw on the other car must already have been there.

Of course, me being me, I couldn't leave it at that, and this has preyed on my mind all day. When I got home, pretty much the first thing that I did was to surreptitiously wander down the street to have a look at the other car (which had been moved). It's an Escort, and it looked as though the bumper had some kind of crumple zone filled with foam to absorb impact, and this had collapsed, leaving a hole.


That must have been me.

I immediately rang Lord B and C and asked them what I should do. Both of them had the same advice. Do nothing. The world is full of terrible people and you will only be exploited if you try to be nice. Not last week, someone in a white car had bumped into me in the car park at work and left a little dink in the bodywork and a whole lot of white paint. I had been mildly annoyed but left it at that.

I felt terrible about this, but I knew what I had to do. A dink is one thing, but a hole in the bumper is something else. I had to do what I would hope that someone else would do if they had dented my car. Mindful of C's advice to admit nothing, I wrote a note saying something like "Call me regarding your car" and my number. The plan was to screen the call and see what they had to say. If they rang me immediately and knew what it was about, then it probably was me and we could just move on to getting quotes or something. If they didn't ring me, then they may just have thought it was about their bad parking or something.

I immediately felt better. This would cost me a few hundred quid, but I would be doing the right thing, and would be able to live with myself. I wandered out to the car, and slipped the envelope under the windscreen wiper. Now I was out in the open, I wandered to the back bumper to have a closer look. The bumper had definitely caved in, but actually there was some more damage on the body work around the side of the car, and a splash of blue paint on the bumper as though someone had touched up the bodywork. As I looked at it, I started to think how this would be more expensive than I thought, but that it looked like a hell of a lot of damage to have caused by touching bumpers. In fact, hang on, close up, this car looks a bit crappy. I started having misgivings. Did I really do all that?

I wandered back round to the front of the car to retrieve my envelope. As I did so, I could see that the tax had expired at the end of May. No tax. Probably no insurance. Surely more extensive damage than I could have caused. I walked.

I did carelessly reverse into that car, regardless of how badly it was parked, and I really wanted to do the right thing; to do what I would like to believe all decent people would do in the same position. Instead, I have assumed that the owner of this car would have tried to exploit me for damage that I probably didn't cause.

Why can't I believe that this person would just smile and tell me not to worry and that it wasn't anything to do with me? Why have I assumed the worst about someone to protect myself? I feel like a total shit, and I think a little bit worse of myself than I did this morning.

(I also hope no one saw me).


  • At 10:34 pm, Blogger Flash said…

    It's a thorny issue, eh?

    I'm afraid I am guilty of doing a little scrape in a car park & getting out of there as fast as possible.

    I really don't think you have much cause to berate yourself mate.

  • At 10:43 pm, Blogger John said…

    You're going to hell now, you know that, don't you?

  • At 11:30 pm, Blogger adem said…

    If it was a genuine accident giving only a scrape then that's cool and if I was the owner I'd probably let it go , but I've had my wing mirror broken 3 times in the past 2 years and it's pissing me off now. Cars knock the wing mirror off which breaks the glass and buggers up the internal motor, which I have to replace. Dammit. At the moment I'm driving with one mirror coz I can't be bothered to get a replacement and have it smashed off again.

    I think you were very responsible ST abd did the right thing which at the end of the day made you feel better and cost you nothing.

  • At 11:43 pm, Blogger SwissToni said…

    who said it made me feel better? I walked. I've done nothing but assume the worst about someone and save myself money. I certainly don't feel good about this.

    John - you know about that?


  • At 12:23 am, Blogger Herge Smith said…

    I blame the government.

    For everything.

    But in regards to this, I would definately feel the same way - but would do the same thing - it's a shame, if we all tried a bit harder to be decent to one another then maybe our society would improve.

    Yeah, right.

  • At 12:42 am, Blogger spinsterwitch said…


    Have to admit that the one time I did that, I would have walked if there hadn't been some witnesses. But there were and sadly it was a ding on a white beemer (who decided to put white bumpers on cars anyway...stupidest idea I've heard). Anyway, I let my insurance take the hit and ended up with higher premiums for a year or so.

    If it had been my car being hit at the time (it was a 1989 Honda Civic), I probably wouldn't have cared, so long as it was still driveable without major repair.

  • At 5:02 am, Blogger izchan said…

    there are several things that you have to take into perspective of.

    1 - They will always exploit you.
    2 - No one is nice.
    3 - We are all going to hell.
    4 - you should have said no.

    Now that thats out of the way.

    I admited to a act that I did commit. The person DID exploited that fact. And I was a couple hundred poorer than I should have.

    Did I feel better?
    Nope. But I felt no guilt either.

    Thats the only thing that gets me really. The feeling of guilt.

    I might end up in hell, who knows, but I will hope that I made my amends to the people that I hurt before I pay for it with my soul.

    :) ...

  • At 5:20 am, Blogger Aravis said…

    No answers, just sympathy.

  • At 11:48 am, Blogger Lazygal said…

    Sorry, but this was completely the wrong thing to have done. I just got through paying $2597.32 in damages done to my car by someone who probably thought it was a minor scratch and walked away. Yes, some of it was covered by my insurance, but the mere fact that there was no "sorry" or acknowledgement that someone had done something to my car (which was actually parked correctly!) is indicative of a lessening of civility in society.

    Can't agree with your decision or your actions. You should have left the note.

  • At 1:09 pm, Blogger Lord Bargain said…

    i'm going to defend ST here, if I may.

    Clearly the correct thing to do is to leave the note. But we don't live in an ideal world do we? We live in a world where nice law abiding people get screwed and therefore you have to make your decisions based on the reality of the world.

    That's not to say if we all were better behaved the world would be nicer, but let's go with the reality, eh?

    if the damage is categorically not your fault (bumpers withstand 10mph impact and I bet you weren't going that fast) then what have you to answer for?

  • At 3:47 pm, Blogger SwissToni said…

    Here's the thing: I know what the 'right thing to do' here is, and I also know that I have decided not to do it. No matter how much handwringing has been involved, no matter how much I nearly left that note, the fact is I haven't come clean and did not leave that note under his wiper.

    I don't think I'm going to change my mind either, no matter how guilty I feel.

    In an ideal world, I would 'fess up, and the guy would simply shrug it off and say that actually his bumper was knackered anyway, or we would simply get a quote for the bumper and I'd pay up. But the fact that the damage looks far worse than I could have caused, that it looks a bit old, and the fact that the car is a bit crappy and the tax is out of date, simply means that I reckon that I would be taken for a ride and would be fleeced for damage I didn't cause.

    It's catch 22: I don't believe enough in the inherent honesty of people to come clean, and as a result of not coming clean, I'm contributing to the general dishonesty.

    I feel shitty.


  • At 4:44 pm, Blogger spinsterwitch said…

    Question here...

    What's the situation with insurance in the UK?

    I guess I'm wondering because, here in the US, while it's not ideal to report a scrape to your insurance (rates go up for awhile...then back down eventually), it's not the end of the world...and they cover for any damages incurred.

    I'm guessing that things are a bit different there across the pond.

  • At 7:13 pm, Blogger Ka said…

    That you're struggling with guilt now is evidence that you're a good person, ST, so don't fret that at all.

    I think I'm on the side of 'should have left the note', but you do have a valid fear. That being said, is the money you saved worth all this guilt? It's like buying travel insurance for a weekend trip over the border: odds are very high you've just wasted your money, but sometimes the clear conscience is worth it.

    Don't beat yourself up. You made your decision, there's no turning back now. Let it go.

  • At 8:10 pm, Blogger the urban fox said…

    If it's any consolation, I doubt your car did more than the merest percentage of the damage. And if s/he's untaxed, s/he's probaby also uninsured and possibly even unlicensed, i.e. a moving menace. Your guilt is unnecessary. As En Vogue once wisely said, "give it up, turn it loose".

  • At 11:31 pm, Blogger weenie said…

    My last car was a victim of several "bump and runs". They mostly happened when I was working in Salford (one of the worse places to live in???). I think you did the right thing, given the no-tax etc on the car.

  • At 9:29 am, Blogger SwissToni said…

    it was parked in front of me this morning, so I had another look. There's a whole load of plastic missing from the bumper, and there was none lying around on Tuesday morning, in addition, there are a lot of white abrasion marks on the bumper (my car is silver). It also looks like an old wound. It looks to me as though he's backed into a wall or something some time ago. (He was also parked atrociously again). I probably pushed something back in and did him a favour.

    Actually. If anything he owes me.

    How's that for rationalisation?

    Thanks for your comments - especially LazyGal. All opinions welcome here, and your honesty is appreciated.


  • At 3:39 pm, Blogger red one said…

    Swiss I'm catching up a bit late. And I'm not a car driver, but here's my penn'orth.

    1) I wonder if part of the reason you've been feeling so bad about this is because, as I see from the post below, you've had a right day of it. The weirdy tingles thing is all stressful, and might be making you feel worse and less resiliant than usual. I'm just guessing, no offence meant.

    2) If the car wasn't taxed, technically it shouldn't be on the road at all. It is possible it's actually been dumped.

    I'm not sure there is necessarily a requirement to swap details with another driver who is not actually meant to be on the road at all. I think if you thought you had actually caused substantial damage, then leaving a note would have been best. But it really doesn't sound like you have, you know. You are being decent in not grassing them up for the tax disk. And honestly, the state of the thing does make me think - again - that it is a dumped car.

    Don't feel guilty.

    It is always a bit hideous to realise you've hit something, however gently, but I gather it happens to everyone sometime, even the best drivers. Best feel happy that you've had your bump with no injury to actual people. If you're going to have a bump, that's the best way, I reckon.

    er that's it, better late than never and all that. I'll shut up now.



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