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Karma is Costly

February 9, 2009

Just over a week ago, I was driving to work on a Thursday morning, taking my usual route along Wyandotte Street. If you are not familiar with this city, Wyandotte is a main artery that runs east/west, with generally two lanes in each direction.

I was clipping along at my usual speed, possibly slower as it was a bit slick out, having just snowed a little.

I was in the right lane with a car directly beside me on my left as I crossed an intersection. I glanced ahead and noticed that the very first parked car along the road ahead of me was a pickup truck. It was parked way out into my lane, as the large snow bank had not left room for him to park properly. There was no way I was going to make it, and unfortunately,  no time left to stop as I would risk skidding right into him.   I squeezed as much to my left as I could,  and thankfully, with no oncoming traffic, the guy on my left saw what I was in for, and gave me more room to move over.  I thought I had just enough room.  

POW!!! It sounded like a gunshot. “What the hell was that?” I thought.  A chunk of ice? Did I run over a rock? About half a block down it occurred to me to look at my right side mirror. Yeah, you guessed it, it was shattered.

I was furious. Great! Just Great! This is all I need right now. Asshole!! I was so pissed off at this jerk. He was parked at least 4 feet into the lane. I am not exaggerating. I took pictures to prove it.

I stopped 3 blocks away and removed the glass part of the mirror that was dangling from it’s wires, the plastic casing around it was long gone. I threw it in the van and contemplated going back.  Nope.  Screw it, his own fault, bad enough I have to pay for mine. And off to work I went.

By noon, I was guilt ridden. I called Kelly.  Asked her if I should go back .  She didn’t hesitate for a second “yes”.  I already knew what I should do, but I needed the extra nudge.

I drove back to the scene and as luck (?) would have it, the truck was still there. As suspected, I has just clipped his mirror and it was shattered as well, but no other damage. I went to all the nearby businesses to find the owner. No luck. I took pictures of the truck to prove how it was parked. I cleared the snow off his licence plate and took a picture of that. Took pictures of the damage in case someone else hit it again later, I didn’t want to be blamed. I waited for a while, tried a few more businesses, and then decided I had done all I could.  Forget it. And I left.

I got halfway back to the office. The little voice in my head was talking. No you didn’t. You didn’t do all that you could. What about the note you wrote? It’s still in your pocket. Why didn’t you leave it?


So I turned around, drove all the way back, and found someone to help me place the note on the windshield. And then I went to work and waited.

When he called he was so thankful, couldn’t believe I had left a note. I told him I knew it was the right thing to do. I talked about why it happened, how he was parked and how I had someone on my left. Asked how he wanted to handle this. That’s when he got a bit angry. Said I hit his parked car, it’s my fault and I will pay for ALL of it, he is NOT paying a dime. He was raising his voice at this point. I reminded him that I left a note and that I could have just taken off.  He calmed down a bit. But he didn’t change his tone much. From that point on when I called, he had his wife handle it.

I’ll cut to the chase here: My mirror cost $345 to replace. His mirror cost $785. These are new replacement mirrors, installed at the dealerships. He refused to take any of the blame. Only at the very end, he offered to pay the $85 of the $785.

I considered going through insurance, but hitting a parked car is 100% my fault, even it’s parked right in the middle of the street.

So I just paid for it.  I did not hand him the money. I met him at the dealership, talked to the service rep, and paid directly to the dealership. I’m a nice guy, I’m not stupid.

While I agree that it was my fault, I still don’t think this is right.

I take good care of my vehicle. There is no way I would park it like that. Ever. I would worry too much. Not only about it getting damaged, but about someone slamming into it and hurting themselves. Sure, it would be their own fault according to the law, but I would still have to deal with my guilt over the hand I had in it. And that’s what I’m talking about. He had a hand in this. And instead of accepting that, being grateful that I left a note and sharing in the cost,  he chose to take full advantage of my honesty.

It’s ok, it’s done. I took my lumps for my mistake, and I paid the cost. Best of all, I have a clear conscience and I can sleep soundly at night. But holy moly doing the right thing is expensive!

7 Comments leave one →
  1. February 10, 2009 1:44 am

    Jeeze louise this is an expensive lesson.
    and what if there is no karma?
    or if there is does that mean someone will now park out in the street and he will hit them and get stuck with a big bill, maybe even bigger than yours was?

  2. February 10, 2009 9:35 pm

    Ok, just for the record… I am not the only one Sylvain consulted that day who said yes, the right thing to do was go back and leave a note.

    Even if there is no such thing as karma.


  3. February 10, 2009 10:35 pm

    True. I consulted many others for Legal/technical advice. I asked coworkers what they thought as well. I could have ignored most of them. But I can’t dismiss Kelly. And more importantly, I can’t dismiss my own gut. I had to go back. Kelly just helped me convince myself.

  4. February 11, 2009 8:26 pm

    While I honor your honesty and integrity, Syl, your contention that the event was 100% your fault is simply incorrect, at least as far as the traffic laws are concerned which I obey (admittedly way different than yours, perhaps).

    I have no idea how your local authorities would deal with it, but in Denver, any vehicle parked outside the boundary of legality would not be protected, not one bit, if someone ran into it.

    Just the opposite: any vehicle even six inches into the traffic lane would be considered a hazard, with the owner responsible for any damage which resulted from the badly parked vehicle–not only to the parked vehicle, but also to the vehicle which hit it.

    In this case, you may well have been wise to simply get it over with. Somtimes, right is less important than done and over with.

  5. February 11, 2009 9:11 pm

    Yeah, that’s the way it SHOULD be, but it’s not. I consulted law enforcement and the insurance companies here, both stated I was completely at fault in the eyes of the law. He would have been given some latitude as well because of the snow.
    Interestingly, I spoke to a friend later the same week, and up where he lives, near Toronto, on many busy streets it is illegal to park in the winter months as the snow makes it unsafe. Perhaps this warrants a call to my city counselor.

  6. February 11, 2009 10:23 pm

    Not doing the “right” thing can be costly too, just think of the guilt and difficulty sleeping you would have had if you had not gone back. Sometimes it is very difficult and/or costly to do the right thing, but I’m glad you did. People like you give me hope.

  7. February 15, 2009 1:22 pm

    while I agree you did the right thing from a legal standpoint, it’s a shame he couldn’t be a bigger person and meet you half way at least.

    Sylvain, you are a wonderful example of a human being. Your karma has increased ten fold because not only do the right thing, you did it in the face of someone who couldn’t step up himself.

    many blessings to you and I’m sorry you had to deal with this.

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