Thursday, March 06, 2008

Door Ding

So, what I didn't know this morning when I got out of bed was this: I was destined to drive the Crazy Bus all day.

Much of the day was just low-grade crazy, with little blips of WTF. Case in point? The whole passport debacle that Will. Not. Go. Away.

And then night fell, and I thought all was well.

I took Skip and his buddy to Youth Group, and, instead of driving home, then turning right around again, and going to pick them up, I decided to stay in the vicinity with Nate and Kelly, and knock some errands off the Endless List.

Got gas. Check. But a big ouchies on the $3.69/gal price tag.

Headed over to Barnes and Noble to pick up some books for a birthday party that Kelly's going to on Saturday.

We pulled into the parking lot, and got a spot pretty close to the store. It was dark, but a quick hop over to the well-lit door of the store.

I had just found the section of Horse Novels (what Kelly wants to get her friend), when I was approached by a large Chinese guy that, at first, I thought was the store manager.

Him: "Um, pardon me, ma'am, but do you drive a van?"

Me: "Um, yes. Oh no. Did I leave the lights on?"

Him: "A blue van?"

Me: "Yes, oh crap, I just left it. Did it get hit?"

Him: (most apologetically) "No, but when you were getting out of your car, you opened your door into my car, and, oh, I'm sorry to even mention it, but you've put a scratch on the car. I was on my phone in the car, and I felt it, and tried to catch you before you got into the store..."

Me: "Oh, I'm so sorry. Let's go right out there and take a look. Kelly, Nate, put the books down, we're going outside for a minute."

Him: "I'm sure this won't take a moment, but I did want you to be aware..."

Me: "Of course. I didn't realize I'd bumped your car when I got out. I'm usually so worried about the kids tumbling out in chaos and hitting something..."

We walked out of the store, and over to the cars. And there, parked right beside Homer was this brand spankin' new Gold Infinity, with the very light of heaven shining out the exhaust.

Crap. I couldn't have whacked my door into a '68 Volkswagen?

Him: "Ordinarily, I wouldn't have worried, but my brother and I, we've just invested in this vehicle, and its value... Well, here, you can take a look..."

And I looked at the car, and it was dark. Darkishly dark. So I beeped my car, and the internal lights came on, and I could see the side of his car, the bright golden flawlessly painted side of his buffed and polished Infinity Sedan. I think even the bugs knew better than to get squashed on the windshield. And there he was, bent over the passenger side rear view mirror, caressing it, and nearly weeping.

Was I going to need to get my glasses out? I squinted.

Nope. I could see it. About an inch long, and barely wider than a hair, yes, there it was, a scratch on the side of the mirror. I ran a thumb over it. Nope. It wasn't going to wipe off. Rats.

The guy looked so defeated. "I just don't know what to do about this. It's my first scratch, and I was really hoping to maintain the value of this vehicle. I suppose I could take it into the body shop for detailing..."

I will admit, I looked at that scratch, and thought "Let it go, buddy." but then I remembered that I had been offered grace by the guy that I'd rear-ended last month, and I thought "I can do better than this."

But what was I supposed to do? Is this where I say "Let's call the police, and fill out an accident report"? Do I go and get my insurance information and exchange cards with him? Do I invite him out for a drink, and hope that my offer causes him to say "Let's call it even"? Do I release my kids on the car, and show him what REAL damage looks like?

And then I started looking at that scratch... at that *white* SCRATCH, and I thought "wait a minute. If I opened my *dark blue* door into this, it would be a dint, and not a scratch." and out loud, I said "Well, let's see if there's any other damage I did by opening the door. Let's reenact the ding."

And before he could say anything, I had opened my door. And swung it towards his car. Where it contacted at a point a full three inches behind where the scratch was. There was NO WAY that my car door could have made that scratch.

"Wow, look at this!" I said. "I don't think it was my door that made that scratch." Whew. I was feeling a bit of relief, finally.

He frowned, "Well, that's being gentle. You did open your door with a greater force earlier."

I did?????

"OK, Let's say I open the door with greater force... how about if the force of it causes your mirror to bend backwards... what happens then..." and I went to push the door just a bit, so it would cause a bit of resistance on his mirror. His mirror bent in a bit towards the car, and he shrieked a little "I don't want to do any more damage to the car. Don't push on the mirror!"

What? He doesn't know that mirrors are DESIGNED to snap against the car, both backwards and forwards, just in case of situations like this?

And it was at that point that I saw a little light at the end of my tunnel.

I was NOT the cause of this scratch. And I smiled.

And he shrugged. "Well, I guess if I worked hard at this, I could buff out that scratch... but it's just not going to be the same. You've been very good about coming out here to check this out."

I turned to go back into the store. "I hope you get that nasty scratch buffed out. It's a lovely car." I said.

I called Ken later, while I was taking the boys home. He laughed "You were being scammed. The guy was trying to get money out of you. Most people will do a LOT to avoid bringing their insurance carriers into the picture. He was counting on that for you. I wonder what he would have said if you'd said "Well, let's call the insurance providers, and see what they say." Hah! Even better, what if you'd said "I think the police should make a report on this!" Oh! Ha ha ha ha!"

Was that it?

Was I the non-victim of a circumvent-the-insurance scam?

And what do I think now? "You whining idiot. Were you trying to get money out of me? In front of MY KIDS?" And I'm also thinking "Hey! I should have gotten your license plate, buster."

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