I was walking out of the grocery last night, pushing a small cart loaded with a couple of bags groceries when it happened. A man was backing his SUV out of a space, alternating between looking over his shoulder and watching me and other pedestrians through the windshield.
It's a tight parking lot, four rows of angled spaces packed into what would be a generous space for three. With four rows, only the smallest cars can make a smooth job of backing out; most drivers have to do a little back and forth. This guy was no exception. He was on the second reversing leg, almost lined up with the lane--
On the side of the lane opposite where he'd parked, an older long-bed pickup truck wasn't all the way into its space. It wasn't over by much. I'd noticed it as something to be aware of, thanks to its shiny wasabi-green paint job and sable-and-cream dual pinstriping.
The man in the SUV hadn't, quite. He reversed slowly, carefully, and put his back bumper right into the side of the SUV, behind the left rear wheel. The pickup truck shuddered on its shocks and the sheet metal crumpled inward. I'd been watching as I crossed the lane in front of him and did that intake of breath you do when something goes irretrievably wrong.
By then, I was at the side of my car, thirty or forty feet away. The man in the SUV made eye contact with me, hard eye contact, and I wondered where my pepper spray was, just in case. He pulled back into the space he'd been parked in before and seemed to be thinking. I tried to watch him out of the corner of my eye, as he got out, checked his back bumper, and got back his SUV.
As soon as he shut the door, another man, a redhead with a fringe of beard, came out of the grocery, walked over to the truck, got in, started it up and looked around. By then, I was frankly staring, entranced by the tableau. (It would have been a good time to get in my car and leave, if my best path out hadn't been right between them.)
The man in the SUV kind of shrugged like he'd made his mind up and rolled down his window. "Hey, buddy! Hey!"
In the pickup, the driver looked around, then rolled his window down.
"Yeah, buddy?" Mr. SUV got out and walked over to the green truck. "I-- I backed into your truck."
The redhead said something back, and got out. Both men walked to the back of the truck and looked at the damage, talking quietly.
The SUV driver reached for his back pocket. By then I had put my groceries in my car, and was standing where I could duck behind it. When he reached back, I flinched. But he was going for his wallet.
The redhead held up a hand and shook his head, speaking loud enough that I could hear him, "No. No, it's okay. I can fix this myself."
The two men shook hands, got back in their vehicles and, one after another, pulled out and left.
Make of it what you will, but if nothing more, it's a pretty good example of how to act like an adult, from both of them.
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