To the man who hit my car last night

I don’t know you. All I know is what I learned from our altercation last night. And, based only on that, I’m betting you probably think you can get away with doing what you did without anyone calling attention to it.

But I’ve got this little blog here, and I can use it to seek justice.

And justice, in this case, means saying thank you.

You didn’t rescue me from a burning building. You didn’t pull me out of the way of a speeding train. You didn’t save my life or anything, but you did something right and honest. You did something decent. I give enough space — too much space — on this site to people who do things that are wrong, dishonest and indecent; the least I can do is dedicate a few paragraphs to the other end of the spectrum.

Let me give you some background: my day, leading up to our confrontation, was a little rough. I was stressed out from some things at work. I was tired. My back hurt. Whine whine blah blah yadda yadda. Get out your violin and let me sing you a song about my tragic existence. You get the picture. So last night, as I was leaving the store and getting back into my car, I was so absorbed in the task of complaining to myself that I didn’t notice you get out of the vehicle parked next to mine. I didn’t notice you rush over to me until you were already standing by my window. You knocked on it right as I was about to pull away. I looked at you and thought, “oh, Lord, he obviously wants to carjack me.” It’s not that you give off a carjacky vibe, it’s just that it was dark, and it was a parking lot, and everyone knows that strangers only approach you in dark parking lots if they intend to rob you.

I lowered my window. You started apologizing immediately.

“I’m so sorry, man.”

For what?

“I parked in the spot next to you a few minutes ago. I came around to the passenger side to put some bags in the car, my door swung open too far and hit your car. I think I scratched it. I might have dented it. I would have left you a note but I didn’t want it to blow away, so I just waited here for you to come out.”

Uh… Well, um… Thank you for telling me. I…

“Here, you can take down my insurance information. Or I can give you cash for the damage right now. Whatever you want. Sorry, man.”

No, no, I didn’t even notice a mark at all. It’s no big deal. Don’t worry about it. Thanks for telling me.

It took some convincing, but you finally agreed to not give me money for the alleged damage to my vehicle. I checked again, by the way, and I still don’t see so much as a scuff. In any case, the transcript of our conversation makes me sound more gracious than I actually was. It’s not that I was mad — I was just kind of flustered, I guess. Whatever the reason, I was gruff and short with you. It was my tone that I regret. You deserved better.

I’m not trying to make too much of this, but I really thought about it quite a bit last night when I got home. Seriously, man, you went above and beyond the call of duty. You could have driven away. That’s what a lot of people would have done. If you were inclined to be honest, you could have left a note on my windshield. That would be impressive enough. But you actually sat there and waited for me to come outside so that you could talk to me man-to-man.

I don’t know anything else about you. All I know is that you did the right thing, and you did it in the most upfront, classy way possible. When I was a kid, my dad used to capitalize on any opportunity to give me lectures about the importance of character. As I drove away, I could hear him in my head. “See, Matt, that’s called character.”

He’s right. Or, the subconscious voice in my head that impersonates my dad is right. That was a display of true character.

You know, I’m not sure why people read this blog. I think a lot of them come here for the “controversy.” Well, I guess I’m not giving them what they came for today. There’s no controversy — just a guy doing a nice thing. A couple of months ago a kid returned my wallet to me after I left it at a coffee shop. I mentioned the incident on Facebook, but I didn’t even give him any recognition here. I should have.

It’s easy to fail in the little moments. It’s easy to fail when the spotlight is dim, maybe even easier than when it’s bright and shining. Most of us never have occasion to be heroes. We’ll never make the news with our acts of courage. We’ll never be put in a situation that calls for cinematic feats of bravery. Most of us will just be given tiny, seemingly insignificant chances every day to be honest, honorable and forthright. And because the moments are negligible, many of us fall back on dishonesty and dishonor. We rationalize and assure ourselves that we are only dishonorable in small ways. But we fail to grasp the fact that we lead a life of small moments, and so being dishonorable in small ways means that we are dishonorable in every possible way. That’s why your gesture last night was so meaningful to me. It was a small moment. You did the right thing in a small way. And I think that’s a big statement.

Thanks. You inspired me.

Besides, I parked too close to the line. This whole thing was at least half my fault.


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131 Responses to To the man who hit my car last night

  1. Evan Aoki says:

    That was a true display of character, a very rare and refreshing encounter probably worth the minor scuff if you think about it.

  2. I heard a pastor once say the only thing your taking with you to Heaven is Character.

  3. I have loved so many of your off the wall thought provoking posts. but THIS by FAR is THE BEST i have read. i do love the controversial posts, im not gonna lie, it adds some spice (that isnt my own per say) to my SAHM life ❤ (btw loved THAT post too) Posts like this one give me hope for humanity and the future for our children.
    Matt, boy whom returned wallet (read that post too awesome kid!!) and classy door toucher, Thank you for every bit of good you do for humanity. To ALL unsung heros THANK YOU. Its people like you who help to keep the good things alive and a reason to keep fighting for whats right ❤

  4. Jack Crawford says:

    My understanding is that the local governments dictate that the parking spaces in paarking lots be so close together. They are the ones who don’t allow doors to be opened all the way. Bastards.

  5. Sarah says:

    Thanks for sharing! It is important for others to see or hear about people who show light in such a dark world (just viewed the Argentina footage of pro-choice group-SAD). This inspires me as well! Thanks!

  6. lucindalines says:

    Very nice of you to share this. So often we are gruff or mad or in too big of a hurry, but you are right this guy showed true character. Nice of you to share it in such a well written way.

  7. ryanspelts says:

    Thanks for sharing this. It is a reminder that in general most people are good. Most want to do good and be good. It is too easy and to common to focus on the short falling of humankind.

  8. piperbee says:

    I am glad you took the time to blog this, Matt. Generosity, kindness, and love are contagious, and we should recognize these things as often as we can.
    I also just want to say that I read your blog because you are smart and well-spoken, and what I’ve read of yours is completely true, even if it’s often (deservedly) harsh. Keep it up!

  9. Laura Suess says:

    Wow what a rare expression of kindness from humanity for this guy to do this. thanks for sharing it. It helps restore some of my faith in humankind after numerous encounters with rude, selfish, clueless people on a daily basis.

  10. robertdicks says:

    Character is its own reward.

  11. Jennifer says:

    Make no mistake, I do NOT read your posts for the controversy. I read them because you tell the truth, which unfortunately is becoming a rare action. It’s nice to know there are people in positions of influence who still tell the truth regardless of the consequences. Then again, truth be told, the truth will ALWAYS set you free. God doesn’t lie.

  12. Tina says:

    Thank you for reminding and inspiring me to be a better person!

  13. Bill says:

    This post reminded me of something I rarely talk about. I ruined 21 yrs of my life through alcoholism. I have been sober now for 24 yrs. One of the the most important lessons I’ve learned through my journey to clean living was to free myself from guilt. The small things in life that you speak of are all the little building blocks that make up who we are. Or at least what we perceive ourselves to be. If you try to lead a life of honesty and integrity you have no residual guilt building up inside you. Simple smiles or thank yous, helping a stranger or holding a door can go a long way. When I finally learned that life is not that complicated sobriety came easy. This post was well written as usual and important in a small yet huge way. Society seems to be a royal mess right now yet the answers to most of what tearing us apart are written between the lines of what you’ve said Matt.

  14. Peter Kramer says:

    Must have been the Chevy chase Starbucks. I hqqqqqte that parking lot – you Can’t park a bike there without hitting someone.

  15. luggnutz13 says:

    “To Whom much is given…” That was classy Matt. And obviously much more of the man you talk about. I’m on a feeling good right now level…Thanx!

  16. Tamara Palmer says:

    I have been in a situation very similar, only I was the one who hit the other car. I could see no damage but left a note on the windshield because I wanted to do the right thing. After a few days, a teenage girl (I was also a teenage girl at the time) called and told me that yes, I had caused extensive damage to her car and that it was going to cost $500+ to repair. I went to meet her and immediately her father told me that my note was a legal “confession” so there was no way I could get out of paying her (not that I was trying to). He had a stack of papers and I felt like he was trying to intimidate and bully me, even though I had freely given his daughter my name and phone number. Since then I have always thought that they were preying on me and taking advantage of the situation to get some money. I paid them out of pocket because my parents told me that if I used the insurance company, my rate would increase. I was really young and inexperienced and frankly, kind of dumb. I don’t regret that I tried to do the right thing at the time, but I hate to say that if the situation happened again I might not stick around, because I would be afraid of someone taking advantage.

    I think you deserve some kudos in the situation because there are probably a lot of people who would have seen your situation as an opportunity to get $$.

  17. Hi there are you currently with Facebook? Would
    be good for me to read your future articles

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