Recently, on my way from FIU to my office, I was in a minor accident. I wasn’t on the phone, or texting, or looking for a song on my iPod, or putting on my makeup. I was just driving. I was making a right at the next light, and got in the lane to do so. A driver who was not in the lane decided he needed to be. As he pulled into the lane I was passing him, and his right front hit my driver’s side back door and rear.
It was clearly his fault. My initial reaction was to yell the F-bomb in the car, as I accidentally turned on every contraption attached to the steering wheel (lights and wipers). I stopped, still fuming, and stared at the driver. A hundred thoughts ran through my mind: Money is tight, this makes it worse. I have to get to the office. Why is this happening? F-ing idiot! What did I do to bring this into reality? I bet the damage is bad! What do I do next? These thoughts cover the main themes of my thinking.
He motioned for us to pull over. I did. I haven’t been in an accident in forever. Well, at least not one that resulted in any damage. (About a year ago a young woman ran into the rear of my car while backed up at a turnpike exit, but there was no damage). I was really at a loss for what to do. We exited the cars. He apologized. By now I wasn’t angry anymore. I replied “it happens.” He explained he hadn’t seen me. I replied “I make a hundred mistakes in a given week. Sometimes you are lucky, sometimes not.” I told him it could be worse. He said it could always be worse.
We went about the technicalities of these types of incidents, and have remained in touch, trying to resolve the issue amicably. That brings me to the points of this story. Anyone who knows me knows I am working on being a calmer, more compassionate and loving person. My initial reaction, out of fear and a sense of disappointment in life’s current offerings, was anger. But once the other person had a face, my anger dissipated and I was able to be calm.
The lesson here is we are who we are, and within that we can change. I am a reactive person. This has its positives and negatives. I have some initial bad reactions. That is a negative. On the positive side I am spontaneous and often am told my reactions and expressions are funny, bringing humor to situations.
The second lesson in this is that everyone isn’t a selfish bastard seizing any opportunity to take advantage. I don’t plan on trying to get anymore than what it will cost to have the damages fixed. I don’t have any injuries, and I am not conjuring any up. The young man offered to call the police to secure my rights. I didn’t see it as necessary. I do not expect he will try to turn the tables. To me, this reaffirms faith in humanity. We hear so many horror stories of the selfishness and evil of our fellow humans. We almost expect the worst, and try to protect ourselves at every turn. But humans are more good than bad. And what is more, we have the capacity for self-improvement. We can get better everyday. We should probably keep working at that.
Oh, and despite having a passenger side mirror, you should still look over your shoulder to be safe.