After circling the mall parking lot forever, I finally saw a vacant spot by the entrance wall next to a shiny BMW. My inner voice woke up. Looks a bit small, it warned me, not gonna make it. But in a quick split-second decision, I swung into the lot.
Heard it. The sound of damage. The clamorous entry for a new record in world-class stupidity. Grinding score for "I'm so screwed now." Told you so, my inner voice said, before dozing off again. I just dinked a shiny new BMW with my old Corolla. I'm in shock, almost ready to cry. I'd give anything for the last three seconds. Now that it is over, I'm thinking, hearing, and seeing a whole lot better. In fact, I just see the new parking lot extension on the other side of road, wide and empty. Why I didn't see that extension in half an hour of driving right past it beats me. Intense feelings of self-loathing take over: I'm Maximus Doofus, Fool-iana, Jellybean Jackass, Joe the Neanderthal.
Of course, what is done is done. The right thing to do is to leave the own-up note on the BMW with my insurance number. But, the wise thing to do, on the other hand, is to run the hell out of there, which I did. I refer to this table when in doubt.
Table: Best course of action when you dink a car.
You are …
A check for a new car, and a complimentary copy of Halo 3
Art of Living student
Leave the note, and concentrate on the purity of your soul, for god's sake!
Engineer in dead economy (no crowd)
Engineer in dead economy (crowd)
Leave a note that reads:
Sorry, dinked your car, I have no intention to own up, just pretending to leave my contact details.
So, I backed out from the lot.
More BMW damage. Going back the same way apparently has the same result. But, once the decision to run is made, the mind at peace. Yes, the damage is awful. Yes, it does look like the beamer got a personal carwash from Edward Scissorhands. But I have a job to do. I must run, drive up my Corolla to the parking lot in the opposite street, in a spot shrouded in the darkness. A bit of touch-up paint on the bumper gets rid of any evidence.
Now, before you feign outrage, it is not that I never tried owning up. The very first time I dinked a car, I left a note on the windshield. For a minor scratch on a really spotty Nissan 240SX. I thought the owner will call the insurance directly like most normal human beings do. I even imagined that he will appreciate my integrity. Here is a good citizen, the owner would think, I for one am lucky he left me a note.
Half an hour later, my phone rang. I picked it up.
"Hey! You banged my car!"
Several things ran through my head. First, this guy was an Asian Indian. Second, why didn't I think of that possibility before leaving the note?
"Yes, but I left my insurance card number..."
"Hey Banger! You banged my car. You can't bang cars and talk nonsense. Come over here right now!"
Five minutes later, I met the guy in the parking lot. He looked he just swallowed a gallon of petrol and, for some reason, was trying to keep it down.
"Do you know what you have done? Do you know what a Nissan 240SX is? Have you ever been in one in your entire sorry life?"
He regarded me with such utter contempt I had to look away. I wished I had at least shaved my furry chin and looked like someone who had indeed been in a Nissan 240SX even if only as a passenger.
"What did you bang it with?"
I pointed at the Corolla. He looked shocked - how could a common Corolla dink the magnificent 240SX? That was like William Hung stealing a kiss from Scarlett Johansson.
I had to follow him to the Body Shop. There, he managed to get every scratch outside and inside into the claim. The Body Shop came up with a $1500 estimate.
"Man, you are lucky," said the dinked one.
"Really?" I asked.
"My brother says it would cost at least $4000. That would be major damage to your insurance."
"How is your brother an expert? Does his car get dinked often?"
"No, he works on rockets for Lockheed Martin. He knows stuff." Right, that made his brother an expert. Part of rocket science. Lucky for me, his brother was wrong on this occasion.
My insurance got him a rental car: a Mazda Protégé. The same evening, he swapped it for an SUV without informing me. Obviously, I had to cover for the difference from my own pocket. He said that the Protégé was too small for his groceries. Unless he bought Elk wholesale, I couldn't figure out why a car is not big enough for groceries.
So, all I got from writing the note was a guy spitting in my face and taking me for a ride. You can't blame me for running.
I get back to the mall, walking through the parking lot. I'm trying to see if the BMW owner discovered the damage. I hear conversation, in German. I spot a boy picking up something from the ground and showing it to his father.
Papa, Betrachten Sie diesen! (Dad, look what I found)
Ah! Sie wissen, was dies ist? The father bellows, picking up the piece of scrap from his son. He is tall, at least 6'7", looks like a brick wall, with flaming blond hair.
Es ist ein Stück eines Bumper Sticker!
A piece of bumper sticker! Oh shoot, part of my bumper sticker must have ripped off in the collision. But, how can he possibly tell anything from it?
Es ist gelb. Siehe gibt es noch eine halbe Schreiben sichtbar, ein schwarz M.
Oh no, the piece has a black M in a yellow background. I hope it is not ...
Ich habe diesen vor. Es ist ein Mystery Spot Bumper Sticker.
Oh no! It is the Mystery Spot bumper sticker.
Was ist Mysterys Spot, Papa?
Es ist ein Ort, wo Indianer fahren Corollas hängen aus.
He knows! He knows that most people who go to Mystery Spot are Indians driving Corollas. Just then, he spots me. I freeze.
"Hey you, you Indian! Do you drive a Corolla?" That is it. I can't deal with this. I run.
Papa, ist der Mann, der zerstörten unser Auto?
Ja. Fang der Bastard. Ich werde ihn töten.
He says he will kill me. I tear away with their footsteps pounding behind me.