When we were kids, there was a popular category of insults that went something like: “When they gave out brains, you thought they said trains, and you said, ‘Give me a slow one.’” Or “When they gave out noses, you thought they said roses, and you said ‘Give me a big red one.’”
The turn of events following Sunday’s fender bender on the Beltway has brought out my inner 12-year-old and, to the jackwagon who hit us, I say, “When they gave out morals, you thought they said quarrels and you said, ‘I don’t want any.’” I know that’s supremely lame, but I couldn’t think of any rhymes for conscience, ethics or integrity.
Here are a few more details pertaining to the accident and then I’ll give you the upshot.
After smacking into our car, Mr. White Cadillac Driver pulled over to an outer lane of the busy bridge where he hit us. He got out of his car, came up to ours and said, “I’m sorry about that. I was trying to change lanes and thought someone was going to let me in but they didn’t and I hit your car” and then provided his insurance and contact information. Because he admitted fault and our blocking a lane was a safety hazard, we opted not to call the police. He mentioned the brand new Cadillac belonged to his wife, who was not in the car.
After we got home, we called Mr. Cadillac Driver’s insurance company and ours and reported the accident.
The next day, after I blogged about what was simply “an inconvenience,” we learned that he reported to his insurance company that the accident was not his fault. The company denied our claim.
Now I suspect perhaps Mrs. Cadillac had something to do with this, but I have no proof. (But can’t we all just picture that conversation?)
Now while the two insurance companies duke it out, it is going to cost $2,500 and up to three weeks to have my car repaired. But here’s what sticks in my craw. He abandoned his conscience and lied. (I am reminded of the O’Jays’ song, “Backstabbers.” “They smile in your face…”)
I recently received a message from a reader, bemoaning the apparent cultural trend toward claiming innocence, even when guilty, until caught. Paris “the-cocaine-in-my-purse-isn’t-mine” Hilton is a recent example.
In the case of Mr. Cadillac, I’d like to think either conscience or first instinct prompted him to admit fault and apologize. Then, for whatever, reason—absence of witnesses, change of heart, sticker shock, an angry wife—he changed his story. And now, like Miss Hilton, he is out to see how far he will get.
While I believe people are fundamentally good, my experience with the ethically challenged is that, once they have told a lie, they begin to believe it. Conscience no longer plays a role. Delusion and entitlement take over.
I’m not sure which hurts worse, $2,500 worth of dings and dents or a swift, sharp stab in the back.
8 responses to “Pants on fire”
Several years ago, I was driving my little Miata, turning left on to E Street from Mass Ave in front of Union Station, when I was hit by an out-of-state tour bus. The driver was apologetic – claimed at first that he didn’t see me, and then, on second thought, that he thought I was parked. He begged me not to call the police, assuring me that his (nice, family-owned) company would take care of me.
Because he was so mortified, and because it was rush hour on a busy street corner, I agreed and took his information. The bus company eventually paid, but only after many hours of screaming into the telephone and some threats of legal action by my insurance company.
Lesson learned: always get a police report, no matter how inconvenient.
I’m so sorry for your trouble.
We definitely learned that lesson. Thanks!
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You raised a lot of issues in my mind: see http://potomacgrasshopper.wordpress.com/2010/10/20/who-can-you-trust/.
Good luck as this proceeds.
As a teenager, working at a mall, my parked car was hit. The driver took off but someone wrote down his license plate number. My father, the attorney, suggested that I try to resolve directly with the driver. The conversation went like this, “I didn’t hit no car.” “Do you realize that leaving the scene of an accident can result in losing your license and we have a witness?” “Well, I didn’t hit no Cadillac!” Hmmmm, if it had been a Cadillac, would you have stayed or put a note on the car?
My thanks to the woman who posted the license number and left her phone number. She declined a reward, said it was the right thing to do. That is what ethical, moral, honest people do.
I keep saying it and saying it…”There is no integrity anymore”. Anywhere. Sad.
Just last Friday saw an episode of Judge Pirro, wherein a guy took down info of the driver who hit his car, was “nice” not to call the police, etc., and got the shaft from the offender’s insurance company. The judge told him that he could still file an accident report, despite the fact that time had passed since the accident. You might want to consider that. Sorry I can’t be more specific, but the scenario sounded just like yours.
Should I assume that the Cadillac bore Virginia tags? (snide)
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