Today we have a special guest post by David Bartley.
It was the Friday before Father’s Day, 2016.
It's evening, and I am on my way home from work. It has been a good day. In fact, it’s been a good week, and I am headed home to begin what I expect to be an even better weekend.
Where I work is somewhat “land locked." That is, there is no direct route to the freeway, it takes a combination of main and side streets to make your way from point A to point B.
On that day, I took the route I enjoy best, a less congested path through both business and residential areas. I was about half way to the freeway when I looked ahead at the traffic light that guarded the upcoming intersection. I could see the light was green ahead of me, and armed with that assurance I glanced down for just a moment to adjust my cell phone.
Just a moment.
When my eyes retuned front, it was in time to see the light had turned red, the car in front of me had stopped, and I should brace for impact.
There is no resonance, no feeling, like that of one car hitting another. The sound is unique, the thud distinctive. In my case, the tone was in the key of my cute, white Honda Civic running into a manly, metallic blue, bumper less, late model Corvette.
“Oh hindsight, take me away!”
I could see the driver’s eyes in his rear-view mirror, and as windows to the soul, his eyes told me my new acquaintance was not a happy camper.
He motioned me to follow, and while all parts of me wanted to flee, I had the smarts to follow. We drove through the now infamous intersection, and tuned right into the nearest parking lot. As we parked side-by-side, I got out of my car first with hopes of, “maybe it’s not as bad as it felt."
The Corvette was sleek, clean, and sexy. It looked as if it has just been freshly washed, the tire black still gleaming in the evening sun. Now, I’m not a car guy (Honda Civic—shocking), but this was one fine looking automobile, and if you didn’t look to the rear you would think all was well.
My car hit his car square on! It was a direct hit, right in the exact middle of the flat vertical section of the rear of his car.
It was the quintessential smack on the ass, and as is often the case, thoroughly unwanted.
No bumper meant the impact was not mitigated by a cushion, and the damage was obvious.
The straight lines of this beauty were now interrupted.
Geometry had been terribly altered. The body had been indented, scratched, and was now painful to look at.
Adding insult, and providing confirmation of my guilt, there were small flakes of my white paint in his beautiful metallic blue.
Unfortunately for me, this was not an accidental collision of peanut butter and chocolate.
The corvette man was young, mid 20’s, about 6 feet tall, well-muscled, and very fit.
He was wearing a hard-earned muscle t-shirt, athletic shorts, and a Charlie Daniels Band baseball cap that was turned backwards.
Great. Where was sporty grandma when I needed her?
He looked over at me, but said nothing.
Corvette Man walked slowly down the side of his car, all the while running his hand along the parts of the body that were still pristine.
As he rounded the back, catching the sight of injury, it momentarily stopped him.
His eyes once again glanced up at me, and said nothing yet once more.
Bending down, he stuck out his hand and ran it across the damaged section.
His hand bumped along like a tire on a backwoods road.
He pulled his hand away in object horror, noticing some of the white paint from my car remaining in his hand.
He rolled the flakes around in his fingers, all the while shaking his head with his eyes closed.
Instinctively, I steadied myself; right foot slightly forward, left foot slightly back, shoulders square, weight shifted lower to maximize my center of gravity. I was ready for the attack.
He stood up and walked towards me.
When he got within 3 feet, he said…
“I forgive you man."
Silence. My mind was trying to process the scene.
Was I dreaming?
“I’m sorry, what did you say?” I asked.
What are the traits of a true gentle man? Find out here.
I was in my right mind, awake and alert, but still in disbelief.
Here I was, in the presence of empathy and understanding, the likes of which I have seldom heard of, much less personally experienced.
“I am so very, very sorry! It was all my fault! I looked down for a second and thought the light was still green. Please forgive my stupidity. I am so sorry!"
“It really is OK. Things happen. We are both OK, and I’m sure the car can be fixed," Corvette Man said.
To make immediate amends, I grabbed my insurance documents from the glove compartment, took a picture of the items, and texted them to him. I then took a picture of my license plate and driver’s license and texted these as well. He looked at his phone, and texted back…
“Hi David, I’m Sean. I’m really sorry your weekend got started this way, but I’m really glad we are both OK”.
Sean thanked me, then proceeded to grab his bag and head into the gym, which oh by the way...just so happened to be in the parking lot we had pulled into.
I immediately picked up my phone and called my insurance company. Just as I began to work my way through the voice prompts, I noticed Sean was heading back towards me.
As Sean approached my window he asked, “Is your insurance deductible about $500?”
“Tell you what, how about you write me a check for $500, and we call it good?”
“But the damage must be more than $500.”
“It’s ok, I think I can get it handled for $500, and this way your insurance won’t go up!"
A day later, I shared this story with a dear friend who is a pastor of a large church.
The day following the accident, just so happened to be Father’s Day. In addition to the other messages I sent, I also sent a text to Sean.
“Hello Sean, Its David, the guy who hit your car. Please be sure to thank your dad today for teaching you what a real man is…I’m sure thanking him today!”