lessons from a wreck

accidentSomeone hit our car last night. It’s the second time in a few weeks that the poor car is in the shop for repairs through no fault of our own. Bummer.

On the other hand, I am so very grateful that there were no serious injuries, and we have a great insurance company that is taking care of the details. A few inconveniences and hours lost, but it could have been so much worse.

After the adrenaline coursed through my veins, I had opportunity for reflection and perspective since my life was (literally) shaken up a bit that night.

First, one more reminder of the frailty of life. My mom’s cancer is a frequent reminder, but this hit even closer to home. My husband and I are finally in the process of renewing our will. We are not going to put that off. We want to prepare to make the process easier for our family… just in case. (How about you? Do you have your will and important papers in order?)

Second, friends make a big difference. We were on our way to dinner when the wreck occurred. Instead, our friends came to join us on the side of the road for the four-hour mostly-waiting-around process. Their presence and companionship was soothing, entertaining 🙂 and encouraging. We are so grateful for them and their gift of time.

Young kids can act foolish. Two young men racing down the road by our house caused the accident. They lost control, hit each other, ricocheted into us, and skidded into a grass median yards ahead. One car totaled; the other banged up, and they stumbled out of the cars laughing. They are not the car owners; they probably do not think about the inconvenience, the increased insurance rates, the diminished vehicle values, the possible harm they could have caused. Someday they will.

Family is important. Ten or more vehicles arrived over time to check on the guys and offer concern, care, and community. There may have been frustration or anger too; we didn’t see that. It was good to see the support that rallied for the young men. They made a mistake, but they have a better chance to learn from it when people care about them.

Forgiveness is key… even for little things. My emotions swung first from concern for the young men to frustration with their apparent lack of concern. I could have let that frustration simmer into a distrust of all “young people” for their immaturity and foolish choices. But that would serve no purpose. Plus, it would be unjust, since there are many young people who are careful drivers, responsible, and making choices to better our world every day. I’d rather focus my emotional energy there.

Have you been in an accident? How did you respond? What have you learned from that experience?

playing detective

car damage

It was a special night. Celebration time out with the love of my life and good friends. New and delicious foods. An especially friendly and capable waiter attending to our needs and making us laugh. Our stomachs were full after just the appetizer, but we proceeded to stay through coffee and dessert, enjoying the flavors and the company. A treasure of an evening.

… and then everything changed.

Out in the parking lot, we began to say good-bye to our friend, but as we walked over to our car, we saw it… Someone had sideswiped our car while we were in the restaurant! Ugly scratches clearly displayed the damage all along the side panels. Ugh! It was a “hit-and-run” as there was no apologetic note with contact information on the windshield and no-one nearby ready to claim responsibility.

We began to piece together the evidence… red in the scratches gave a clue. Placement of the damage indicated a small SUV rather than a sedan. As we pondered next steps, another couple exited the restaurant, and added that they witnessed the collision, but paid little attention, other than to mention that the car they saw was a… maroon-red SUV.

I’m not sure why, but our eyes began to scan the parking lot for red SUVs… and one caught our eye right across the lot. A quick investigative walk across the lot confirmed our suspicions – grey paint in scratches on the hood at the exact height location! We quickly archived pictures of the license plate and scratches in our phones.

In this day and age, a direct confrontation is not wise, so we called the police for backup. An officer arrived and – although they don’t usually get involved in minor parking lot incidences – quickly joined the case because of the clear evidence and the still-present guilty vehicle.

What kind of person hits a car, discretely drives to the other side of the same lot to park, and then enters the restaurant to eat dinner like nothing happened?

We waited watching the customers as they exited and walked to their cars. Is that the one? Do they look guilty? Nope, never mind, they are walking the other way…

One group of people initially strolled towards the direction of the SUV, but then turned. We lost interest. All of a sudden, the policewoman bolted towards the SUV! Someone had sneaked back to the SUV while we weren’t looking, and, in her peripheral vision, the officer had just seen the car door open. She caught them as they were trying to get away!

The others in the group drove away and left a young woman alone to attempt an unobserved escape. So sad! She nervously tried to blame someone else for the accident and moving the car, but turned over registration and insurance information anyway. Another witness said that drinking by the others may have been an issue.

We took a moment to pray for the officer and the others involved. Case closed.

I am still surprised that all the details came together, and at least we will not have to pay for the repairs, but I can’t stop wondering about the people who would do these things… hiding, blaming, abandoning.

What causes someone to act like that?

And, then… how often do I do the same thing… try to hide my guilt or pass the blame or leave someone else to defend my mistakes?

How about you? Ever had to play detective? Ever been the guilty party?