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Beginner's Heart

Beginner's Heart

‘it’s just stuff,’ or, the important things ~

A very nice man hit my little bluebird car Monday… <very sad face> It was an honest accident. He wasn’t moving when I began backing out of my parking space — he didn’t even have his back-up lights on when I looked in my rearview mirror. And when he did back up, my little sports car was too short to be seen over his truck’s TALL tailgate. Neither of was going fast (exiting a parking space in a shopping mall??), but he still managed to totally crumple my left rear fender… Sigh… But no injuries, of course, and it’s just a car…

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Have I mentioned how much I love my 11-year-old car? It was my Ph.D. present from my extravagantly romantic husband. I had seen it parked in a Borders parking lot once, and said it was my dream car. It still is. Like me, it has mileage (more than 100,000 of them!). But that’s okay w/ me — she’s still the best car in the world.

I’ve only had two real accidents in my whole life. Plus one tiny fender-bender where someone hit the car behind me, pushing it into this same car’s black rubber bumper. It was such a small thing I never even bothered to get it fixed. So I’m kind of vague on the whole ‘what to do when you have an accident’ protocol… I got out of my car, looked at the rear end — where I thought Mr. Truck had hit me — and was (for one brief happy moment) delighted to see no mark. Whoohoo! Then I saw the fender… :(

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It looks like crumpled tissue…:( The wheel well is cracked on the inside, and the fender no longer seals against the door. But this isn’t really about my poor little car. It’s about the fear nice Mr.. Truck  showed when he came to check on me & my car. It’s about his concern for me, and my concern for his fear…

Mr. Truck is Mexican — possibly Mexican American, but most likely not a citizen. Probably (he had no driver’s license to give me) not a legal immigrant. His English was sketchy, and he had an insurance receipt from a group I’d never heard of (nor has my insurance company). I’m betting nice Mr. Truck was driving a company car. Lucky for him, there’s barely a scratch on it. I make this leap of faith because Mr. Truck looked absolutely terrified when he first engaged with me: middle-aged white chick in crumpled Beemer… I can’t be sure, but I’m thinking he didn’t anticipate that I would pat his arm and tell him things would be okay…

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Note: my sister asked me, when I recounted this story, ‘Did you pat his arm? I bet you did.’ And I had to confess: yep. I patted the poor shaking man’s arm. Sheesh. But I also wrote down the tag on the truck, his phone number, his address, and his name. I’m not STUPID, just worried for his shakiness.

Yesterday, when my husband called Mr. Truck’s phone number (at an apartment in our neighbourhood, known for not being picky about who or how many live in the apartments), a man w/ even less English expertise than Mr. Truck answered. Glen tried to tell Mr. Truck’s friend that we were going to pay for the repairs on our car, and not report the accident. I was worried about Mr. Truck, and Glen was worried about our rates going up. As usual, we’re a match made in heaven! Mr. Truck’s friend kept telling Glen: Mr. Truck working; Mr. Truck working. No matter what Glen said, Mr. Roommate responded ` Mr. Truck working. 

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And I’m sure Mr. Truck is. And I”m also sure he’s worried, wondering what will happen next. We had hoped that we could spare him uncertainty, let him know he was off any hook he might be worrying about.

I don’t tell this story for approval. I tell it because I cannot imagine being adrift in a country that uses your labour but affords you no measure of security or protection. A country whose economy depends in large part — as Arizona found out when it enacted its heinous anti-Mexican laws — on the flow of bodies across our southern border. I can’t imagine it; I can only pat Mr. Truck’s arm, and be glad we can afford to fix my little blue car.

It’s only a car, right? It’s not freedom, or my youth, or my native language or culture. It isn’t leaving my home to go to work to help my family. It’s only a present, commemorating an accomplishment. And it’s not nearly as important as any of these other things…

 

 

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Claudia

    Of course, the author of this story was lucky enough she could afford to pay for the repairs herself. I’m not so sure someone without these means would have been as understanding.

    • Britton Gildersleeve

      I absolutely agree. But I hope that I would be. I can’t see possibly ruining someone’s job — maybe worse — for my left rear fender, Claudia. But yes — had it totalled my car? Who knows? And of course, my husband would weigh in, as well. I’m very lucky that he agreed.

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