I normally do not feel the need to share personal details as it is a blog about running. But today I need to vent a little, I am sorry so feel free to stop reading now. Monday I was waiting in line at the In-n-Out in Culver City. I was meeting a friend on that side of town and famished after working in Orange County I really wanted a double double and a chocolate shake. As I waited in line a man backed his suburban into the rear driver side of my car.
A Hard Lesson In Kindness and Law
The first words out of his mouth, after pulling over; did I do that? You sure, it looks like you can just pop it right out. I said, sir you hit my car and there is blue paint on your bumper. I snapped some pictures and honestly should have taken this as a red flag but didn’t. When I asked for his insurance and driver’s license he asked if we needed one of those in this state. I smirked and requested it again. Rather than calling my insurance right there he asked if I could get a few estimates and he would rather write me a check. I quickly copied his insurance and license information. He then asked if I was the allowed to drive this car and if the damage had not been there as he wiped some of the blue paint off his bumper. I know red flags, but he was older and I did not want to be rude. I thought…if I’d hit someone and could pay to fix their car rather than have my premiums go up I would want someone to do that for me. I consented to seek estimates.
I called him tuesday afternoon with estimates. He did not like the sound of them and asked if I could go to “his” body shop. Feeling a little frustrated I had wasted time I agreed. In my head I thought, this is it. If it does not get settled wednesday I am just calling my insurance and having them deal with it. Again, do unto others…I thought.
I went to his body shop and their estimate was 2x everyone else’s because they informed there may be structural damage. I called him to inform him of the news and that I would be calling my insurer. His response was that he would mail me a check for the estimates I had given him the previous day. I told him I was not accepting his check and that I was calling him as a courtesy. He proceeded to ask me the name of the other body shop so he could make the check, I did not repeat it. He then asked if the address on my license was a good place to mail it and I again repeated I was sorry but that I was not accepting his check. He stated that he was going to tell “his” body shop not to accept my insurance and that he would deny he had hit me claiming that as he backed up I refused to move. I informed him that there are cameras that caught the scene reiterating that he backed into me. He then said he would be mailing a check and that was it; and that it was illegal for me to be in Los Angeles and not report the address change to the DMV. This last remark set me off.
The remark set me off because it reminded me of all the people that get abused because of their ignorance of the law. I remember as a younger child listening to one race subjugate another with the statement; “well its illegal to…”. A statement that an immigrant or a non-english speaker would have generated the fear of God within them. It infers some “other” knowledge and takes an authoritarian tone. It was a threat veiled in law. The law that is meant to protect everyone, especially the defenseless. Instead it was used as a weapon to make others feel inferior. He was attempting to impose his will on me without my consent, but it was not his words that angered me. My anger came from the knowledge that this was probably learned behavior maybe used on those less knowledgable and not willing to take the risk. I let him know I was lenient enough. I had wasted 2 days attempting to help him out and that I was not going to risk my safety over this. I hung up the phone. He did not call back.
I share this story not as a “warning” but as a lesson. Not everyone we meet will take our kindness and may try to abuse it. Because of this man’s actions I am not going to stop reminding myself to do unto others as I want to be done unto me. But, I will set my boundaries much sooner. Maybe through kindness we can change those learned behaviors that only serve to divide all of us.