Saturday May 25, 2013
One Bruised Bumper Amid the Christmas CrunchBarry-Lee Coyne Salem-News.com
I was left with the feeling that the jingle of cash was the only green they savored.
(SALEM) - Some of us are able to maneuver around Holiday traffic by deploying sleigh and reindeer but for the vast majority of Americans we find ourselves relegated to using an old-fashioned high-octane auto. I certainly fit credibly in that category. Just a few weeks before Christmas my wife and I signed up for a two-day Conflict Resolution workshop. We were interested in equipping ourselves with the gift of greater tranquility in time for the season of "Peace on Earth, Goodwill toward Men (and women as well)". The class was held in a local Episcopalian church and led by a bearded pastor. No sooner did the class begin that somebody came into the room asking "Does anybody here happen to own a white Kia? There was an accident in the parking lot!"
We were the car owners and wondered what damage had occurred. As it happened, when I excused myself and got to the lot, the driver was nowhere in sight. However, a cryptic handwritten note scribbled on lined yellow paper was perched on the windshield. It stated that "Tim" was very sorry for the damage he had caused but would pay for the repairs. He had left a phone number to call. The damage caused was a nasty tire scrape that chipped away nearly a foot of paint on the bumper's left side.
After class was over I called the number and got Tim, reassuring him to get a good night's sleep and not to worry. I promised we'd be able to work things out without the need to involve insurance companies. He seemed quite relieved. That next week I approached two auto body repair shops for estimates. They both insisted on wanting to remove the entire bumper and apply some three coats of different paints. Their rationale was that if they only touched up my bruised area that the contour might be uneven. I replied that this wasn't my concern but both refused to budge. Their estimates ran around $750 and $800 respectively. It was hardly a noble Christmas present.
I was left with the feeling that the jingle of cash was the only green they savored. So the search went on. Meanwhile, I sponged down the cream-colored bummer and removed the tire marks. Now only the elongated scrape remained.
And I was determined to use a different approach to the next auto shop, which was a block away from our neighborhood senior center. "Sir, I have a slight bumper problem caused by an honest driver in the church parking lot downtown," I intoned.
"He bruised my rear bumper and left a note on the windshield promising to pay for repairs. But this is the Christmas Season and I'd hate to take advantage of his offer." Mike the repair guy decided to take a quick look even though he was preparing to take off to meet a driver in distress.
"You know, sir, I'd want to be charged a la carte and not for the entire meal when all I really need is the appetizer." He chuckled and assessed the damage. "I can do an adequate touch up for only $500. Would that meet your budget? I happen to be a Christian too, and don't go for exploiting my customers."
Yours truly was ecstatic. That night I called Tim and told him about the series of estimates. He was amazed that I would be his advocate for a more reasonable repair price. However, since he showed integrity with me I thought he deserved nothing less. It was the high season for Christmas shopping and we both had very busy schedules.
Four days before Christmas we finally met in person at the church parking lot where the accident took place. We chatted amicably and agreed to stay in touch. He handed me a $500 check with the name blank to take care of the damage. It was the perfect tune-up of the Holiday Spirit. Peace had been restored to both our hearts, thank Heaven.
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