Generally, I am a skeptical person. Maybe it’s because I was taught so specifically as a child not to trust strangers. I grew up during the time when there was widespread fear about razor blades in halloween candy and stories of kids getting snatched while playing alone outside. These horrible things still happen and so I have a baseline fear of every stranger I see. I don’t think of myself as a paranoid person, just extra cautious. I fall into the camp of pessimists who tend to try to expect the worst so that when things turn out better, we can be “happier” instead of expecting things to turn out well and being disappointed if they don’t. There are pros and cons to each philosophy which I will not get into now. This is all just background so you can understand my surprise when I describe to you the following events.
Last weekend, while driving, the husband rear-ended a car. We weren’t going very fast because we were just coming out of a stop. We had just come from a fast food place and all of us were busy munching on french fries. I think perhaps his attention was diverted for a split second when he was reaching for a french fry and I was grateful that I had a second to yell, giving him a second to slam on the brakes. But we still hit the car in front of us. This was our first surprise.
The husband got out of the car while I waited with the boys inside. The lady we hit was about a generation older than us and she seemed fine. I couldn’t hear what they were saying, but I could tell that the husband was really apologetic. They looked at the bumpers, exchanged some information and then we went on our way. There really was very little damage, barely a dent.
But, of course, we fretted. I’m sure you’ve all heard stories of how people try to scam more money out of you when an accident was your fault. This had actually happened to the husband when he was younger. Then, there’s always the fear that the insurance rates will go up or things might get complicated. I worried that the lady would wake up the next morning with a neck ache or other some such complaint.
Several hours later, when we got home, we discovered that she had called a couple of times, but not left a message. We wondered what she was calling about, but were also a little apprehensive. What did she want? Was her husband upset, possibly? A couple of hours later she called again. And do you know what she said? “Don’t worry. It’s not worth fixing. I’m not going to report it.” That was our second surprise. She was really gracious and kind. It was a minor accident; nothing to get upset over.
I tell you, it’s times like these that really restore my faith in the human race. Here’s a person who wasn’t even going to ask for what was rightly hers to have (a car repair). Not only that, she called us to let us know so that we wouldn’t have to worry or wonder what she was intending to do. Amazing.
Interestingly enough, this is not the first time this has happened to us. Over ten years ago, the husband (again) rear-ended a car on a bridge. It was just after 9/11 and we were driving though the Washington D.C. area. As we crawled along in stop and go traffic (it’s always like this in D.C.) on the bridge, a giant military helicopter flew over us. Of course we all looked up at it, including the husband. Then, we looked ahead because we hit the car in front of us. Whoops.
We were all especially fearful this time because the guy who got out of the car looked like he was a football player and was probably twice the size of my husband. Do you know what he did when he looked at his dented bumper? He just waved his hand, said “Don’t worry about it”, and got back in the car. He didn’t even bother to get any information from us.
Why do these acts surprise me so much? Is it because the news is so full of reports of people having road rage or is it because I wouldn’t do the same? I hope that these acts of surprising generosity and grace from strangers will help me to be the same when some accident happens to me.
What about you? Do you have a surprising story of someone being gracious to you? I would love to hear it. I think we all need more of these stories in our lives.
p.s. The photos were taken by the boys on their camera of lego cars they’ve been playing with. They are “fully loaded” with spoilers, boosters, etc. Actually, the photos are quite funny. They’ve been doing their own made up version of stop action movies, inspired by MarioKart. It’s pretty hilarious when they do the narrating.