The Uphill Slide

There is always something.



Across the lot from Walmart the golden arches shone, recognized even by three-year-olds. “I want french fries,” Caleb said. I was going to buy bananas.

Fifteen minutes later I pulled in line at the drive-thru. I was next up to the window when I looked down for a moment and hit the bumper of the car in front. A coat-clad arm was stretched to the window getting an order. The arm pulled back in, and the door opened. The man got out to walk back. “Do you want to pull out to park?” I suggested. “Unbelievable,” he said. “I’m sorry,” in reply. He said, “This is a $75,000 car.”

I handed him my owner’s and insurance cards. “My car is only $20,000 but it means as much to me as yours,” I claimed. Maybe not. It’s useful—even a necessity. Not a status symbol. “I’m 66 and not a liar,” I said in response to something else. He scoffed. Rightly so. The mantra of Dr. House. “Everyone lies.” I blogged the same in response to my son’s accuser. My written words quoted in court as a have-the-last-word by my ex-daughter-in-law against my son. Suggesting that those words were a confession and not simply a statement of the truth about lies. Her statements the Trump-like twist.

The well-dressed man’s clothes that sharply contrasted with my sweaty just-come-from-the-gym clothes and hair made me feel at a disadvantage. He asked for my driver’s license. “Why?” I questioned. He said we could call the police. He wanted to verify my identity. I asked him not to photograph my ID. Questioning my identity led me to suggest he might steal mine from the ID. His wife (an assumption), who I hadn’t noticed, suggested we try to be civil. I responded that I was trying with an apology to which he responded with the price of the car. Our first words brought us to this exchange. He was scrawling my address when I told him I was in midst of divorce and had a different address. Caleb tapped the window. The woman asked if I had a little one, and her tone changed.

I drove across the river and remembered I hadn’t even asked his name. Oh well, there would be a claim or none. I told my daughter the story. She said she would have behaved quite rudely. I laughed thinking there might really have been a police call was it her accident.

My phone ran. It was the man. He apologized. He said he had been a jerk. It was an accident. And I had a lot going on. I thanked him for calling. I said I understood his attitude because I had hit his car. He said he couldn’t sleep that night if he didn’t apologize.

I think we both slept better that night. He was not a jerk at all.

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