During my travels back East, my brother and I treat my mom to a dinner out – just the three of us – a rare occurrence. But on the way to the restaurant, my brother’s car is rear-ended – hard – as he yields to a car in oncoming traffic.
I scream (embarrassing, yes, a girly scream, but I’m sitting in the back seat and my head bobbles like a linebacker hit on both sides).
My brother does the manly thing – he curses, loudly and emphatically.
I can’t quote him, because this is a G-rated blog, or at least PG. But his expletives are descriptive enough that I worry for the other driver, who begins to unfold his tall, lean body out of his car.
I can’t tell how much damage there is, but I’m most worried that my brother’s much-loved auto is scratched/bent/harmed, and our special dinner with our mom is ruined.
I hold my breath. Usually my younger sibling (by 18 months) behaves with well-tempered patience, but when he gets pushed too far…well, things can get ugly.
My mom and I stare straight ahead, still seated in the car, while my brother and the other man inspect both vehicles.
Voices raise. With eyes closed, Mom squeaks out – “Are they arguing? What’s going on?”
I listen closely, still not turning around to actually view the scene.
“No. They’re talking in a civilized tone,” I whisper, puzzled.
“But what’s the noise?” she asks, fearfully
“Um, they’re chuckling…?”
Gently opening his car door, my brother sits back down in the driver’s seat with a small smile on his face.
“What did the guy say?” I wonder out loud.
As if in partial shock, my bro states: “As soon as I climbed out of the car, the guy says, ‘I’m sorry – it’s all my fault.’ ”
The three of us sit still, stunned.
No one acknowledges fault these days. In this litigious world, we are all grilled to NEVER SAY YOU’RE SORRY or admit fault. Never.
My brother’s car is moving us along now to dinner. Bro’s face is clear and happy, and I don’t think just because his car’s bumper saved him from a crashed and ugly fenderbender.
I think he’s smiling because the guy who hit him immediately took credit for the crash, shook hands, and said, “whatever the cost, I’ll take care of it.”
Life is full of fender benders. How we respond to them, – that’s what really counts in the long run.