Nicely Done

For someone who has a bit of a rep as not being a “nice” person, I sure do get myself into binds because I’m trying to be nice.

Monday afternoon, I heard a crash outside. I looked out the window, which is right over my desk and saw a beige pick-up pulling away. The back of the truck was very near our parked car, but the car kept going so I didn’t think much of it.

Less than a minute later, the doorbell rings. A woman with a red geranium perched in one hand and a little dog circling manically at the end of a leash in the other says “Is that your green car out front? Someone just hit it! Backed into it and drove away! But I got the license plate. Mouthed to the driver: ‘I see your license plate.’ She kept going. Turned right on Grand.”

I should have run out when I heard the crash, I suppose.

As it was, I went to our neighbors across the street first. Ruth and Mike are in their 80s, very pleasant neighbors. From what I saw, the truck had backed out of their driveway and was likely driven by one of their many grandchildren who come to visit. Only Ruth was home. Given her dementia, the conversation was unproductive. She can make neighborly conversation, but has no idea who’s been there visiting or not.

I called the police. Gave them the plate number. They said they’d look for the vehicle. Called insurance. The whole deal. The damage almost certainly exceeds the value of the car. (No, no — it was the Buick, NOT the Jag!)

When Mike came home, David talked to him, told him what happened. Mike immediately phoned up the grandson, who came right over. They examined our car and his beige pick-up, then came over.

We had the conversation in our entrance hallway. The grandson says he thinks he would have felt it if he hit our car. He is twenty-something and earnest. Mike clearly believes him. Mike says how’s there’s no damage or green paint on the grandson’s truck. I refrain from pointing out that the kid has had three hours to clean it up. They also note that the paint left on our car is white. I don’t ask how beige scraped over dark green looks different than white.

What I do say is that right now the cops have the kid as a hit and run and he should go to the cop shop. I figure they’ll deal with it, match the paint, etc.

The cops call later, say the kid is playing dumb and they can’t do anything without my witness. Whose name I neglected to get. The insurance company is not so sanguine and is talking about having the claims agent check the kid’s truck while they check ours.

I’m torn. For us, there’s no fault. There is a $500 deductible. And it annoys me that the kid isn’t taking responsibilty, though I also believe that will catch up with him.

I keep seeing Mike’s face in our evening entranceway, the weariness on it. The need to believe his grandson wouldn’t lie. Mike and Ruth no longer make their annual trek to the sunny Southwest and instead have stuck out the last two long Laramie winters. Ruth is too far gone for it.

We’ve knocked on the neighbors’ doors, looking for the woman with the red geranium, who told me she was there visiting her dad on the corner. No luck. We’ll run a classified in the paper through Sunday, looking for her or her dad.

After that, I don’t know. Maybe it’s worth $500 to leave Mike alone.

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