Sunday, November 12, 2006

Like a good neighbor

Late Friday afternoon we were treated with a torrential, start-building-the-ark, downpour. In keeping with our Murphy's law lives, one of the tires on our car blew out while my husband was taking M Girl to gymnastics. Lucky for us we have AAA but they said it would take two hours before they could get there. And two hours from then was the time A Girl needed to be at the theater where she's performing.

So I left the office a little early, made it home on the bus and contemplated the sheer impossibility of getting a cab to take me to the gymnastics place to pick A Girl up and then take us to the theater. I also contemplated the vast amounts of cash the long cab ride would cost at rush hour. Then I remembered that our neighbors had offered to lend us one of their cars if we ever needed it. Thankfully, they were home and were glad to help.

I drove more carefully than I have ever driven in my life. The last time I can remember driving someone else's car, I got into an accident on a California freeway. (This is something I'm surprised I haven't blogged about - but that's a long post for another day. Suffice it to say that the accident wasn't my fault - really.) Anyway, I drove slowly, not in a rush. I barely even swore at all the crappy drivers on the road! I didn't want my negative driving mojo to infect their car. I picked up A Girl, got her to the theater on time and was happy that the rain was down to a mere drizzle as I made my way home - with the neighbors' car still intact.

I got into our garage and wound my way up to the 9th level where they park. I had a little trouble finding their parking space (I met them in front of my building - I didn't have to get the car out of their space earlier.) Much to my dismay, their space is a bit tight, with a concrete wall on the right and someone's nice little Lexus on the left. Also, their car is a smallish SUV - I've never really driven an SUV so it's hard for me to know exactly how wide the car is. (You know where I'm going with this, don't you.)

I realize how small the space is so I back up, realign the car and slowly start to pull in and then I hear "SCRRRAAPPPPEEE!" from the right side of the car. Holding back tears, I pull back, adjust and pull in again without incident. I (carefully) jump out of the car and run to the other side where I see a huge scratch along the front passenger door. I stare in disbelief. I try to rub it out (yeah, I knew that wasn't going to work.) I briefly contemplate not saying anything and hoping they don't notice. (Yeah, I knew that wasn't going to work either and I enjoy being able to live with myself.)

I nearly start crying in front of the doorman when I leave the keys at the front desk. I ask for paper to leave a note. It says "L & J - Thank you so much for lending me your car. I'm really sorry but I scratched the door. Of course I'll pay to fix it. Please call me." I left a message on the wife's cell phone, amazed at my ability to do so without crying.

They called me around 10 p.m. and they were laughing. Yes, laughing. The husband (whose car it was) said "Are you sure you did that? I got a little scratch on that door awhile ago." Since I would never have called that scratch little, I said "No way. I heard it scrape on the concrete. It's a bad scratch." The wife told me that she's been in so many fender benders in the school parking lot that it's not even funny. She told me to take a look at her car next time I'm in the garage - which didn't make me feel any better because it was her husband's car that I scratched. They were unbelievably nice about it. They said they could care less about scratches on their car and they would let me know if they were going to fix it but in the meantime I shouldn't worry about it.

I felt a little better having talked to them but I couldn't help thinking they might be singing a different tune when they looked at it the next day. It was a serious scratch people!

In the afternoon they called, laughing again (these people laugh a lot). The husband says "Guess what! You scratched the step, not the door. I told you there was already a scratch on the door. There's a black mark on the wall where you scraped by but who gives a [hoot] about the step. Nobody gets the stepped fixed. But if you want to pay to repaint my door, you've got a deal."


dodo said...

I was really cringing with you for a minute thee - glad it turned out ok. And, what awesome neighbours you have!

Sandra said...

You wrote that story so well. I see dodo, above, said exactly what I was going to say--I really was cringing. I felt so sorry for you. I broke off my side mirror on one of those concrete pillars in a "parking incident" in a garage once and it pissed me off so bad!! They need bubble wrap on those pillars.

Kat said...

Oh my, that story sounds like it could come right out of my life. I have a van that just barely fits, if I turn in the mirror, into our garage. I can't tell you how many times I have whacked that mirror.

Jessica said...

The neighbors were very nice. Who knows - someone with less integrity might have let me go on thinking that I scratched the door. Or worse, they could have had me pay to fix it when it turned out that it wasn't my fault.

Kristen said...

Oh wow. Your neighbors sound really awesome. That must have been such a relief!!