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.