Tuesday, February 19, 2013


What Is a Sane Reaction to Wrecking One's Car?

When I heard the boom from the street last night, just past midnight, I had a selfish thought: please let it not be my car this time.  I've lost several rear view mirrors over the years, parked on the street, so I know the sound; but last night it was louder and somehow didn't sound like it came from directly outside my window.  I had to look, I got out of bed.  And what a sight I saw: a young man climbed out of his car once the air-bag released him, slammed the door shut a few times (it wouldn't close) and began to walk away.  He had just driven his car more or less head-on into a parked car on the opposite side (the wrong side, one might say) of the street, then ended up on the sidewalk on his side of the street.  A neighbor came out and called him back, with a calm, reassuring yet commanding tone of voice I don't believe I could ever have produced. It wasn't my car, I hadn't really witnessed anything, I went back to bed.

Curiously, the young driver did not seem angry, or in denial, but distressed more than anything.  He implored "no police!", saying he'd pay for all he'd broken: a fairly normal coping tactic. A couple of times he let out a wail and collapsed to squat, at others he was leaning, practically crying on the neighbor's shoulder. That surprised me more, but perhaps it shouldn't have.  What is the correct, adjusted behavior one should have in such circumstances?

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