Louise Kelly comment: How hard do you have to hit another car before you apologise?
How often have you come back to your car – parked either on the street or in an underground carpark – only to be greeted by a nice new little scratch or dent?
While the fact that some of our fellow car owners are happy to ‘hit and run’ irritates, it’s such a regular occurrence that it’s almost become an expectation.
But what if you’re actually in the car when the ‘hit’ occurs?
Sitting behind the wheel of my motionless car, I was looking up how to get to my new dentist on Google Maps when I heard a small bang and the car shook.
For once, I’d made my way back to my 06 Opel Astra with plenty of time to spare on the parking ticket so I was making good use of the extra minutes without the fear of going head-to-head with a Dublin city clamper.
A well dressed woman in her mid 50s had disturbed my smug reverie by reversing into me in her 00 Mazda while parking in the space in front of me. Close to St Stephen’s Green if anyone wishes to set the scene for themselves.
Naturally, I waited for said driver to come over to apologise for the whack but, after attempting to correct her car (it was still over the line), she rustled for her handbag, locked her car and started to walk away.
The reason I mention the age and model of the cars – in case you’re wondering – is to establish that I wasn’t overly concerned about significant damage or scratches to paintwork.
But I was astounded that this woman was prepared to leave without having the courtesy to exchange details, examine any possible damage or even extend a simple apology. It got worse.
The disbelief, coupled with the fact that I’d taken off my high heels to drive and was now fumbling in the back to find them, delayed my reaction time but I managed to jump out, shoes on, just as this lady passed my car.
“You do realise that you hit my car, don’t you?” I asked as she strode past, eyes forward.
Her response in a thick south Dublin accent: “You need to know the difference between a tip and a hit”.
For the purposes of full disclosure, let me digress and reveal that I’m no stranger to car crashes. When I first passed my test, I managed to ‘hit’, crash and overturn my car (same car) in three separate incidents within the space of perhaps a year and a half.
While I put this series of unfortunate events down to inexperience and the mistake of purchasing a car that obviously had 666 written under the paintwork, my point is that I took responsibility for each one – and I also know when I’ve been hit.
Getting back to the scene.
I suggested that the first words spoken from her ladyship should have been an apology and we could have left it at that.
She met this with a barrage of comments that can be simplified into rage at me for having the audacity to question her parking skills. I decided now was the time that we should exchange details.
“I am not giving you my name. The car is parked perfectly”.
At this point, I quietly lost my cool and reached for the phone. I’m going to take pictures of your licence plate, your insurance details and where your car is parked now, I told her.
Things escalated quickly from there, to the hilarious and slightly unnerving.
Our driver extraordinaire proceeded to take close to a hundred photographs of my car – which had been stationary throughout its ordeal – while repeating comments seemingly to herself such as ‘what is her problem’, ‘this is ridiculous’ and ‘I don’t have time for this’.
When the comments turned a little more aggressive and I was in no doubt that they were directed at me, I informed her I was calling the gardai got into my car and locked the door.
"Step away from the car," I asked her from behind my window shield as I placed the call, the very busy woman rapping on my window with her keys all the while.
By the time the gardai arrived, she had left the scene – a development I was initially thankful for to be honest as I was beginning to sound like an extra in Law & Order.
While I spent about five minutes trying to manoeuvre out of the space that she had left me, I laughed at how ridiculous the whole situation had become simply because this woman wouldn’t own up to hitting my car.
I also missed my dentist appointment.