Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Inconsiderate? You decide.

Dear fellow-parent-from-my-kids'-school,

I've known you for a number of years, and we've often chatted in the parking lot while waiting for our kids to be let out of class. You've always been a nice, funny guy who clearly cares about the things that matter, both in your family and in our community. Which makes this rather difficult to write.

It was with great disappointment that my kids came home with news that you had parked your pickup uncomfortably close to my wife's car, then proceeded to smack it with your door before driving off. They watched you do this, and it upset them.

It upsets me, too, because you left a nice-sized scratch in the middle of our door. I suppose I could give you the benefit of the doubt that you were in a rush, that there was a big gust of wind, that you were preoccupied, that you didn't know it was our car (we've only had it for six weeks, so...) Whatever it is, your actions quite noticeably damaged my car.

Because of this, I'm now in the uncomfortable position of deciding whether or not I gently approach you about it - tough, as I risk making you feel uncomfortable and potentially coloring our relationship going forward - or ignoring it and fixing it on my own dime.

As you can imagine, either option sucks. Worse, your not coming forward forces me into the situation of being the bad guy. Which sucks more. Why I should feel uncomfortable over something I did not do is beyond me.

In the end, it's just a car. And it's just a scratch. And I should probably not be making the deal out of this that I am. But if the tables were turned, I'd have been leaving a note on your windshield. Because it's one of those keep-me-up-at-night things my mother always taught me to fix before tuck-in.

And I still have to explain to my kids that the world isn't always as fair as we'd like, that people don't always do the right thing when given the choice. It's a lesson we've been gradually teaching them over the years, of course. But I didn't think it would have to come courtesy of someone I know and trust to look out for them whenever he sees them in the parking lot.

Thanks so much for adding to my large-enough pile. And please don't park anywhere near us again.




Kalei's Best Friend said...

Not your letter at all.. The person its intended to? DEFINITELY!. Wow if I ever received a letter like that I would be so embarrassed... BTW how the heck could he even get out of that car if he was parked so friggin' close to your wife's car??? I do hope u give that note and if that man has any integrity he will either write one back or approach your wife w/a hell of an apology and a check.

KowZ said...

I think you're reacting before really letting the temper live it's life and cool down.

Although he may have known he did the damage, it's not like he purposefully did it, and may have not been in the mind to write a note and may be waiting for the right time to come forward. Some people take the time to collect their thoughts before just going on rants.

My suggestion, wait for him tomorrow at the school and just say "Hey, you know what, yesterday you parked a little close to our new car and some damage appeared on our door. I'm not sure if it was you, but, if it was, I'm sure it was an accident. I'm not accusing you of this, but, if you could help me out with either finding out how the damage was caused or helping me get it repaired, I'd greatly appreciate it."

Kalei's Best Friend said...

@KowZ: why would he park so close to another car? come on, the dude knew exactly what he was doing... its obvious he didn;t know how to park and was too lazy to repark it so he would be able to get out w/out a problem..bottom line the dude was a schmuck.. since he knew he hit the car he should of left a note..

Kristen said...

That is so tough!!! I am the type of person that would not say anything and then let it bug me AND feel like the bad guy all at the same time! What I would love to say that I would do is this: Approach the person and ask, in a friendly way, do you have any suggestions on the best thing to do with scratches on my door or do you know anyone that could fix it without costing a lot of money? See how they respond, don't be combative, you both know what happened. If they just give suggestions and nothing else, well, you now know what kind of person they are, they will feel like the jerk they should, but it won't be uncomfortable with you. Stuff like this just really stinks!

Anonymous said...

The Other Side:

Carmi, that sucks. It truly does, but please, allow me to share my story of a similar theme.

I was the door smacker.

Just this past weekend, in fact, I pulled into a spot at Sears. I did not park too close to neighbouring vehicle, in fact, it was right in the centre of the yellow lines. I do, however, have a 2-door Grand Am with large, heavy doors. That is not an excuse, but a fact.

As I got out of the car, my door touched the car door beside me. When I say "touched", I mean just that -literally a "touch". It is almost impossible for me to open the door wide enough to get out without coming a hair's distance from the neighbouring vehicle (which, by the way, was parked too close to the yellow line).

Anyway, as I turned around to shut my door, a young man (20ish) who happened to be sitting in the car beside me said, "Uh, excuse me lady... your car door just hit my car door" (it was NOT a hit).

I responded, "Oh, I'm really sorry, I didn't realize. Let me see..." and I checked for the damage that I knew wouldn't be there.

He then yelled at me, "well, you know what? I'm gonna take a picture and I've already got your plate number!"

That is when I kind of wished I had smacked into his door. I kind of wanted to slash his tires at that point, too. There was no need for his attitude. I said I was sorry, and there was no damage. And HE parked too close to my spot. So, I just laughed at him and said, "good for you".

I know my doors are huge and heavy. I go to every possible length to ensure they don't slam the car-next-door. Sometimes, however, they will touch. The attitude of the other driver makes all the difference as to how I will react and respond.

It's true, you really do get more flies with sugar than with vinegar....

Just sayin'.


carmilevy said...

Laurie: There's a world of difference between a touch and a smack, so it's difficult to directly correlate these two instances. And if you had left any damage, I'm sure you would have offered to take responsibility for it.

Once the young man with attitude realized there was no damage, the right thing to do would have been to lay off and call it a day.

It's difficult to go the honey route when everyone around you is spewing vinegar.

FWIW, I park in the boonies to specifically avoid having anyone next to me. My wife does, too. Can't very well control who shows up after the fact.

Linda said...

I think your letter is quite acceptable. In this day and age, everyone is too wrapped up in their own little world to pay any attention to what's going on around them. He likely has NO CLUE because he was being selfish in his haste to be where ever was more important to him.

I've dealt with this way too much. Even at church, I've gotten dings and dents from inconsiderate people who leave and don't tell me.
I've arrived from a grocery store to see a huge ding and the car next to me still sporting my paint color. And you can bet I stayed and put my 5'2" out-of-shape-and-overweight self in the other person's face. But the worst? My vehicle was keyed in the school parking lot. When I arrived, I was the ONLY car parked where I was. When I left (an hour later), I was the ONLY car parked there. My friend up the street says she saw a car parked next to me, but couldn't tell me who it might have been). The paint curls were still hanging from the car.

And now? Well, we just got a new car...and I'm parking it in the deep recesses of the parking lots and walking. Of course, that just BEGS people to park next to me, just to irritate me. I'm not looking forward to the first dent or ding.

tiff said...

send it.

Anonymous said...

Totally print it and stick it on HIS windshield.

Trudi said...

Tape it to his windshield with a very large piece of duct tape.

Ginny Hartzler said...

Well, if you two weren't great friends to begin with, there's not much of a realtionship to damage. And would you really want to be great friends with him if he knowingly did this, and didn't tell you? He made the decision for all this to happen, you are only following up. Both myself and my husband say to call him, but first, ask if he knew that there was damage, maybe he didn't see the scratch.

MorahMommy said...

I have to weigh in with my two cents, as this is my car and I saw it happen.

I was in the school looking out the window (I'm like a deer in the headlights when I see someone parked next to the car) He was parked way over...very close to the line. I was in the middle of my spot (I park very carefully with Chloe) He opened the door and didn't prevent his door from hitting mine. Did he do this on purpose? No. Did he check to see if he did any damage? No. Did he care? Probably not! Did he open the door to leave a mark? Yes.

We have a protective coating on the car and there was white scrape on the door. Was I happy? No (I was also hungry, tired, and dealing with an unhappy 13 year old who was not voted in as vice-president of student council!)

If he had still been there when i came outside I would have said something. Was I ticked off? Yes. In the end I was able to buff out most of it.

Is it worth saying anything now? No! In the end it was not a nice thing to do, but nobody was hurt. That's all that matters to me.


Max Sartin said...

Carmi - sorry about the scratch on your new car, even when it's not the first one it can be frustrating. And it's a hard situation, to confront him or not. People can get defensive pretty quickly even when you politely accuse them of something.
When I was about 20 I was sitting in my car when a lady hit it pulling into the parking spot next to me. I was sitting right there, felt the shake and she still denied any responsibility. I ended up having to call the police and get an official report before she would even give me her insurance information.
I don't know what the right answer is. One can only hope that he will be reasonable, it is possible that he didn't notice the scratch, not likely if he cared, but still possible.
Good luck. Sorry I didn't have the perfect little tidbit of wisdom for ya.

21 Wits said...

Great venting letter which may cause a few people to not sleep well tonight. I so agree with your Mother's way of thinking, and if only life were that perfect. But humans don't always react as we hope, and who knows he may send you a little note with cash, without signing his name. This way if he's thinking you have no idea he did this, your friendship remains unblemished. Of course he may just be a jerk and it's these little things in life that give us heads up for the future, and possibly someone you don't want to count on in the future. Thank God it was just a scratch, at first I thought you were going to say he tried flirting with your wife in front of your children! That would be horrible to witness!

Karine said...

Oh gosh, that so totally sucks, especially since your kids saw it, that would make it so much more upsetting. I think you're actually more upset because your kids were upset than anything else. I agree with the folks who said to wait by his car tomorrow and ask him about it because the action really shouldn't go ignored. If he feigns innocence, then it's something else completely because you can so not whack someone elses car without noticing and if nothing else he should apologize and offer to pay for the damages.

blondie said...

Oh Carmi, I hear you I SO hear you. You are in that lovely place of "damned if you, damned if you don't".

A couple of years ago I did a similar thing in my street. I did not know the owner but left my details on the car as it was a "noticable" bump.

I put this down to being pregnant (at the time) as I pride myself as being a great driver.

I did leave a note. The neighbour couldn't believe my honesty and didn't ask for any money.

It is a matter of principal isn't it.

Bet of luck. Pip

Somewhere round about said...


but whichever way it goes, you got to write out the letter......

i know someone who writes The Most blistering letters ever. This communication sits on the desk overnight and then goes straight into a shredder after breakfast.

I guess that way keeps the blood pressure low.

It sucks.
Life sometimes sucks.
Explaining that fact to our growing children truly sucks
+ having to do all that at the end of a generally-sucky day anyway....is way too much to cope with!

I hope your whole family manages to find a pathway through this jungle.

fredamans said...

You are a better person than I am. If it was my brand new 6 week old car, I'm afraid I would have jumped all over the guy.
I hope he does the right thing.

Ankita Sarkar said...

Well he should've certainly left a note. That's good manners. Now, will he read it?

Btw, what convinced you that Criminal Minds is a good show?

Holly Schwendiman said...

Oh the joys of human interaction. So sorry you get to deal with one more joy. :(


Anonymous said...

I'm with MorahMommy on this one.

I've had my doors dinged, and I've been the dinger. Sad, but true.

Also...just wondering...all the people that boldly advise Carmi to confront this guy with gestures that would surely cause a spiral of destructive events, would you do the exact same thing you're advising? And if so...I hope I never offend you.

The beauty of forgiveness is that it's NOT about the OTHER GUY. It sets us free. And I'm talking to myself now...I'm right in the middle of dealing with this.