The ‘uh-oh’ moments
Updated: October 29, 2012 1:58AM
Thump. Crunch. BAM.
As drivers, most of us have had at least one “uh-oh” moment, when we realize that we just made contact with something that we shouldn’t have, be it another car, a parking garage post or some other immobile object or structure. After that initial stomach-dropping feeling, there is also an adrenaline-fueled wish to somehow turn back time or, yes, even to flee and forget.
For at least 95 percent of us, that instinctual urge to wish it all away — without the involvement of another person, an insurance company or law enforcement official — remains just an urge.
When, for instance, I inadvertently bumped into a pole at a narrow drive-thru area, I got out of the car to make sure not only that I didn’t have any bumps or scratches on the car, but that I didn’t damage the structure, either.
On another day, a windy spring afternoon at a shopping center parking lot, my son opened the passenger side door about one second before I could say ‘Be careful not to hit the car next to us!” After that “Oh, @%#!” moment, I made sure that there was no dent or ding before I got my shopping cart and went into the store.
That’s just what you do.
Imagine my dismay, then, when I recently came out of an event to notice a dent in the back drivers’ side of my husband’s car that I had borrowed for the night. Thankfully, it wasn’t his brand new car — you know, the one in which I can’t even drink a beverage and have to park at least 15 feet away from absolutely anything — but it was a noticeable bash and had telltale paint marks.
As far as we can tell, someone who was backing out next to us probably turned their wheel just enough to smack into our car. It had to be a pretty significant jolt to their car, from the looks of things. But still, the person drove away without a note or any kind of acknowledgement.
If that’s happened to you, you know how maddening it can be. Do we pay out of pocket or pay our insurance deductible to fix something we didn’t do? Actually, I don’t have a problem paying a deducible if everyone steps up to the plate and calls it what it is, an accident. But I do have a big issue with a person who took the easy way out, knowing full well that they damaged someone else’s car and followed that urge to drive away before anyone notices.
Auto body shops fix these kinds of dents, dings and damage all the time.
“Yes, we see it a lot,” reports Jim Rapata, manager of Burlington Auto Body in La Grange.
Rapata doesn’t think that the rate of hit-and-dash accidents is necessarily any higher now, but does say that people often point out that the damage their cars was not their fault.
Meanwhile, Eddie Shima, manager of John’s Auto Body in La Grange, agrees there is almost always someone who comes in and says that their car was hit and the person responsible for it left the scene. But on the plus side, Shima reports that all is not lost in today’s society, when accountability can seems like a tenuous thing.
“There are some people who hit a car and then leave, but believe it or not, we’ve had a huge positive response with people leaving notes on windshields,” he said.
Shima cited one recent job they did, a man’s car had been hit at a church parking lot.
“The woman who did it put a note on the windshield but she also stayed there until he came out,’” he says.
The owner of the car had it buffed out and touched up, but didn’t go for a total restoration that would have cost the elderly, and honest, woman a lot more money.
And that’s another good thing, say local auto body experts. A process called Paintless Dent Removal, offered at both Burlington Auto Body and John’s Auto Body, can minimize the appearance of any damage.
“Even for hail damage or shopping carts, you can bring the car in without having to fix and paint the whole panel,” explains Rapata.
In the meantime, I am going to be more careful where I park. And I’m pretty sure that after this recent incident with our other car, it will be a good one-mile walk to any destination from a parking spot. Too bad they don’t make any Star Wars-esque “deflector shields” for cars, because that would be a “BOOM” and a “WHAM” I’d sure like to see.