Friday, April 13, 2012

Smashing into Angels

Let me begin by stating that Tuesday started off badly from the git-go.  I overslept by ten minutes, which put me an hour behind for the rest of the day. From the moment my feet touched the floor, it was a race to make up time as I  threw on jeans, gobbled down a dry breakfast bar with a java to-go, threw books and keys into the car, then pushed as much as I dared over the 55 MPH limit while keeping a close eye in the mirror for those dreaded blue lights.  
By the time we reached Lancaster, I was feeling the stress of the morning rush and had become a bit frazzled.  Before we could dash to class, however, Sissey had to make a customer delivery for her newest financial venture. She had recently joined the cottage-industry route to fortune and fame and was slowly making her way up the corporate ladder of success, one pocketbook sale at a time, as a serious and dedicated personal consultant and sales representative for a purse company. She was adamant that "the customer comes first," even if it meant pushing it close to getting to class on time. The purse delivery added fifteen minutes to an already-rushed schedule, but the package was safely delivered, and she had her commission in hand.  
For some insane reason, I figured I had just enough time to run to the bank to deposit the check the customer had given her and still make it back to campus in time for class.  I flew to the Wells Fargo across town, pulled up to the ATM, scrambled through the car for a pen, found one that was out of ink, accidently dropped the check between the car seat and the console, yelled "Dadgummit" as I dug around for a second  pen, retrieved the check from between the seats, inserted the debit card,  punched the PIN into the machine, and got an "Error Message" that stated "This machine is unable to accept deposits at this time."
"Darn it!"I hollered as I retreived the debit card. "Now I've got to go to the drive-through window. We're going to be late for class!" 
Thinking I could just back up, then pull through the adjacent line, I threw the car into reverse, mashed the gas pedal, and ..."BAM!"
The jolt jerked us both forward as we screamed.
"What happened?" Sissey cried.
I looked into the rearview mirror and saw nothing, so I opened the door and jumped out of the car.
A squat brown car hovered behind my oversized SUV like a small brown beetle hiding behind an elephant.  A woman about my age was standing in front of a little Chevy HHR, looking at her fender as I approached.
"I-I-I, I'm just, I'm just so, so sorry," I stammered, embarrassed and mad at myself for the stupidity of smashing into a car while exiting the drive-through in reverse. "I honestly didn't see you. I didn't see anything. Are you O.K.?"
"Oh honey, don't you worry about anything. It's nothing," she said with a smile, as I nervously leaned over to examine the damage to her car. 
"But I hit you! And it was completely my fault!" I said in a shaky voice, tears filling my eyes. "Let me go get my insurance information, and I'll write down my name and address," I continued, as I turned to head back to my car.
"There's no need for that," the woman said, "There's not any damage done."
 I looked at the obvious dent in her fender, a perfect impression of the trailer hitch protruding from the back of my car, then looked back at her. I pointed to the hole in her car and stated the obvious.
"There's a dent in your fender."
"Oh, that's nothing," she said. "I hardly see anything at all. You just go on now and don't worry about it."
I knelt down and ran my hands over the fender, feeling the circular indentation in the panel of the bumper.  I stared at the dent, not quite sure what to do.
"Well, let me give you my name and number in case you change your mind," I told her as I stood back up.
"No, I don't want it," she insisted.
"Then at least give me your name so I'll know who I hit."
She laughed and said, "Nope! I'm not even going to give you that.  You just go on now and don't worry about a thing."
I walked back to my car, shaking, confused, not fully understanding what had taken place. I sat in the driver's seat, grabbed onto the steering wheel, and looked over at Sissey.
"I'm not quite sure what just happened," I said, as I slowly put the car into drive and nervously inched forward, this time driving around the bank parking lot instead of backing up through the ATM line. As I entered the drive-through window from the proper direction,  I glanced over at the car that I had smashed just as it was exiting the teller line. 
The car had new tags on it!  New! It was a brand new car!
I had just put a dent into the front fender of a new car, and the driver didn't even want to know my name!
Yes, I was definitely confused.
What had just happened? Why hadn't she called the police, dialed 9-1-1, reported the accident, filed for insurance, called an ambulance, screamed "Whip lash!"? There were plenty of witnesses; in fact, the entire teller line at the bank as well as several customers had been in full view of the crash and it was obviously my fault.
What could have possessed her to let me put the first dent into a brand new car and get off scot-free?
Was it a new car and she didn't want her husband to know she had secretly driven it?
Was it a loaner car while her car was being serviced?
Was she driving without a license, with a suspended license, with a revoked license?
Was she returning from a three martini lunch and thought maybe she had smashed into me?
Was she an escaped convict in a stolen car, planning a bank heist until I smashed into her?
Or was she a kind, forgiving soul who knew ordinary people did stupid things and who didn't think a little dent was a very big deal?
I couldn't decide if my day had gotten worse, or if it had just gotten a whole lot better, but as I drove back to campus, I thought that possibly, just possibly, I had run into an angel.

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