On the way home from work, I was sitting at a red light, at least six cars from the intersection. We had been stopped for about a minute when BOOM, I got rear-ended. It was so loud that the driver of the car in front of me got out to check if I had hit her car (I hadn’t) and so jarring that a light came on saying “Airbag Malfunction” (not exactly reassuring) and the passenger side mirror came off its post, attached only by wires, like a severed finger hanging on by a few tendons. Once the initial shock wore off, I thought WTF?!? I hate confrontation, but I was bracing myself to ask, “What were you thinking?!?” The other driver was immediately apologetic. He had sad eyes.
Driver: I am so, so sorry.
Me: It’s okay. Well, it’s not okay, but it happens.
D: I am so sorry, I am having the worst day. I can’t believe it. I am so sorry my bad day has now affected you.
After establishing that neither of us was injured and exchanging some basic information, he admitted that his head was somewhere else and that he had been staring at the sunset in the distance.
Me: Is everything okay?
D: I’m getting a divorce.
The look on his face said that this was a very, very recent decision. And maybe not his choice.
I tried to make him feel better by remarking that I had been procrastinating on having some cosmetic fixes done on my bumper and now I would get a brand new one! Last year, my car was hit while parked, no note left except for a long scratch along the right side of the bumper. At the time, damage to a material item was so far down on my list of priorities (1. Get through day. 2. Get through day. 3. Get through day. You get the idea.) that I never called the insurance company or even bothered to write down the date it happened. The driver continued apologizing about the inconvenience this would cause me and I continued saying, shit happens. Because it’s the truth. If there are any redeeming qualities of having recently emerged from a really shitty year, it’s that it makes you more empathetic to others. It also allows one to truly appreciate the vast differences between an inconvenience, having a crappy day, and feeling like your life as you know it has turned to shit. I really hope he has a better day tomorrow.