Sunday afternoon my car was rear-ended for the third time in the past two months. Actually, it was only the second time I’d been hit, but the third for the family — Rochelle was hit driving my car about two months ago. Rochelle’s accident was the worse, requiring the hospitalization of my car for 4 days while the bumper and trunk were being fixed.
No sooner did I get my car back than another car hit me as I pulled out of the parking lot of Rochelle’s uncle’s jewelry store. The jewelry store incident was no big deal, so the other driver and me exchanged info and left, which was good since I was anxious to get my brother and sister-in-law to the airport.
This Sunday was different, though.
The woman who hit me tried to act indignant that I was hit. How dare I be stopped at a red light! When I went to collect her information, instead of letting me see her I.D. she simply wrote it down for me, including her phone number. I went back to my car and called the number only to find out that the number was disconnected. I returned to the car, she gave me yet another number. As I walked away she got out of her car and began raging about how she saw “no visible damage.”
I bet she didn’t see it!
It wasn’t in her interest to see “visible damage.”
I found out shortly thereafter that she had no insurance. At this I bristled! (It might help you to know that one of my great pet-peeves is the fact that I have to carry “Uninsured Motorists” insurance on my cars. I hate the fact that I have to pay for my insurance AND their’s.) Plus, she had lied to me about her phone number. (Next to “Unisured Motorists,” I detest being lied to.)
So I called the police. And she was livid. She yelled at me about not having very much money and so on. It was not one of my finest moments, because I could not have cared less about how much money she had! I was mad!
Her husband showed up, complete with camera phone to show that the car had no “visible damage.” In the process I learned that the woman had no driver’s license. Just her passport.
I was fuming!
And now I realize why.
If the woman had insurance, which she should have had, and not given me a fake number (And it turns out the second number she gave me was a fake too. She got a little more honest when the cops arrived.) I would have likely let it go. But once you lie to someone about something really important, you simply cannot be trusted. I had explained to the woman that my infant daughter was inside the car and there was no way that I was leaving without credible information in case we discovered something later. Plus, damage is not always visible — when Rochelle was hit, her back hurt for a couple of weeks requiring a trip to the doctor’s office. Sometimes stuff is real, but not evident.
This woman so easily lied to me that it’s scary! It’s as though we live in a society without conscience; we don’t care at all about the consequences of our actions. And the fact that she immediately felt that my calling the police was some kind of punishment for her rather than a safety-net for me and my family demonstrates that we have come to expect that everyone is out to get us and honesty is the quickest way to be taken advantage of.
I’m not immune. I often feel the same way, as if the world is set up to be punitive and you have to angle, connive, fool, lie and trick your way into safety, wholeness and protection.
As I look back on the event, it makes me sad. It makes me sad that we live in a world were we feel that we cannot trust other people to do the right thing. And the truth is that that feeling may be accurate. But for me, I want to believe that people will do the right thing most of the time, no matter how many times I get rear-ended.