I don’t know you. All I know is what I learned from our altercation last night. And, based only on that, I’m betting you probably think you can get away with doing what you did without anyone calling attention to it.
But I’ve got this little blog here, and I can use it to seek justice.
And justice, in this case, means saying thank you.
You didn’t rescue me from a burning building. You didn’t pull me out of the way of a speeding train. You didn’t save my life or anything, but you did something right and honest. You did something decent. I give enough space — too much space — on this site to people who do things that are wrong, dishonest and indecent; the least I can do is dedicate a few paragraphs to the other end of the spectrum.
Let me give you some background: my day, leading up to our confrontation, was a little rough. I was stressed out from some things at work. I was tired. My back hurt. Whine whine blah blah yadda yadda. Get out your violin and let me sing you a song about my tragic existence. You get the picture. So last night, as I was leaving the store and getting back into my car, I was so absorbed in the task of complaining to myself that I didn’t notice you get out of the vehicle parked next to mine. I didn’t notice you rush over to me until you were already standing by my window. You knocked on it right as I was about to pull away. I looked at you and thought, “oh, Lord, he obviously wants to carjack me.” It’s not that you give off a carjacky vibe, it’s just that it was dark, and it was a parking lot, and everyone knows that strangers only approach you in dark parking lots if they intend to rob you.
I lowered my window. You started apologizing immediately.
“I’m so sorry, man.”
“I parked in the spot next to you a few minutes ago. I came around to the passenger side to put some bags in the car, my door swung open too far and hit your car. I think I scratched it. I might have dented it. I would have left you a note but I didn’t want it to blow away, so I just waited here for you to come out.”
Uh… Well, um… Thank you for telling me. I…
“Here, you can take down my insurance information. Or I can give you cash for the damage right now. Whatever you want. Sorry, man.”
No, no, I didn’t even notice a mark at all. It’s no big deal. Don’t worry about it. Thanks for telling me.
It took some convincing, but you finally agreed to not give me money for the alleged damage to my vehicle. I checked again, by the way, and I still don’t see so much as a scuff. In any case, the transcript of our conversation makes me sound more gracious than I actually was. It’s not that I was mad — I was just kind of flustered, I guess. Whatever the reason, I was gruff and short with you. It was my tone that I regret. You deserved better.
I’m not trying to make too much of this, but I really thought about it quite a bit last night when I got home. Seriously, man, you went above and beyond the call of duty. You could have driven away. That’s what a lot of people would have done. If you were inclined to be honest, you could have left a note on my windshield. That would be impressive enough. But you actually sat there and waited for me to come outside so that you could talk to me man-to-man.
I don’t know anything else about you. All I know is that you did the right thing, and you did it in the most upfront, classy way possible. When I was a kid, my dad used to capitalize on any opportunity to give me lectures about the importance of character. As I drove away, I could hear him in my head. “See, Matt, that’s called character.”
He’s right. Or, the subconscious voice in my head that impersonates my dad is right. That was a display of true character.
You know, I’m not sure why people read this blog. I think a lot of them come here for the “controversy.” Well, I guess I’m not giving them what they came for today. There’s no controversy — just a guy doing a nice thing. A couple of months ago a kid returned my wallet to me after I left it at a coffee shop. I mentioned the incident on Facebook, but I didn’t even give him any recognition here. I should have.
It’s easy to fail in the little moments. It’s easy to fail when the spotlight is dim, maybe even easier than when it’s bright and shining. Most of us never have occasion to be heroes. We’ll never make the news with our acts of courage. We’ll never be put in a situation that calls for cinematic feats of bravery. Most of us will just be given tiny, seemingly insignificant chances every day to be honest, honorable and forthright. And because the moments are negligible, many of us fall back on dishonesty and dishonor. We rationalize and assure ourselves that we are only dishonorable in small ways. But we fail to grasp the fact that we lead a life of small moments, and so being dishonorable in small ways means that we are dishonorable in every possible way. That’s why your gesture last night was so meaningful to me. It was a small moment. You did the right thing in a small way. And I think that’s a big statement.
Thanks. You inspired me.
Besides, I parked too close to the line. This whole thing was at least half my fault.
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