I was in a car accident last night.

Don’t worry. I’m fine. I got rear-ended while I was stopped on a side street letting a big rig back out of a parking lot. Some guy turned the corner too fast, didn’t see me stopped until it was too late and, though he rammed on the brakes, he gave me a good bump from behind. I got out of my car filled with dread, certain that my car, which I love so much (it’s a 2000 Nissan Altima, not a Jaguar or anything, but it’s the first new car I’ve ever owned, and it’s been good to me), was now a slightly condensed and more angular version of its former self.

The first thing I noticed was that the guy who hit me looked a lot like John Corbett (who was the DJ on Northern Exposure, Aiden on Sex and the City and the groom in My Big Fat Greek Wedding — wow, that guy’s got quite a resume for someone most people wouldn’t recognize by name). He had slick model-boy hair, with the kind of slightly off-kilter spikiness that looks so casual it clearly took hours and hours and big heaping goop-mounds of product to achieve, and which no normal person can maintain until 10:30 at night, when this occurred. This being the heart of Hollywood, CA, my next thought was that maybe it WAS John Corbett. That’d be a good story, wouldn’t it? Well, it’s not this story. Sorry.

As I walked back to my bumper, I saw that his car didn’t seem to have a mark on it. Whew! That was a good sign. And my bumper looked a lot like it used to, only with about ten to fifteen stark white nicks across it. Not a good sight to see, but a reminder that the good folks a Nissan sure know how to put together a good, solid machine. He gave me his phone number and his name. So of course, when I got home, I googled him. Turns out he’s a graphic designer. A pretty decent one, too, judging by his website. If you’re looking for a nice, boyishly cute graphic designer, check out his resume:

(Can I get in trouble for linking to that? I mean, I don’t even know this guy. Look, don’t be mad, Nick. I’m just trying to get you a job.)

Anyway, I don’t think I’ll call Nick, as my bumper’s problems can be solved with some touch-up paint — which let’s be honest, if it takes the slightest bit of effort, which it does, I’ll probably never bother to go buy anyway.

And that makes me feel plain awful.

See, the damage Nick did was a LOT worse than the damage this woman did to my bumper a few years ago. In fact, the last time my car touched another car was only a week after I bought it. Keep in mind, I had spent the last seven years of my life with a piece o’crap car, dented, dirty, ugly and barely running. When it finally died, I knew it was time to trade up, and I decided I was ready at last for a new car. I had been doing my research for months. I knew exactly what I wanted. I shopped around, found a good offer and finally made the plunge. I sunk almost 20 thousand D’s (d’s = dollars, another slang term I’m trying to coin — pass it on, will you?) into my new wheels and I drove them around LA with pride — until one rainy day this woman slammed her tiny Mazda thing into my rear end.

Again, not my fault, but the scatches she made were obvious, and they were obviously her fault. My car was a pristine machine, just a week off the lot, and I cannot convey how freaked out I was that my perfect little baby had been damaged by this awful, awful woman. Oh, I didn’t yell at her or anything — I’m not one of those kinds of people — but I took down her name, and then I took my baby to a body shop for an estimate.

The body shop guy was suprisingly honest. He got a look at my bumper and kind of rolled his eyes. He realized what it took me until last night to realize — that I was overreacting. That blissful euphoria that comes with anything new and exciting can’t possibly last forever. Sooner or later, the scratches will appear, and you’ll have to learn to accept them. (Geez, when did I get so moralistic?) Sure, it would’ve been nice for my car to stay perfect for longer than a week, but ultimately, a few scratches is nothing to freak out about. And even a few more scratches, like I got last night, is still not such a big deal. The car guy gave me an estimate of about $300. Then, as I was leaving, he told me to take the woman’s money and put it in the bank. He didn’t think it was worth it to get the bumper fixed.

The good news is that I found an honest body shop to go to if I should ever need one. The bad news is that, yeah, I made the woman give me the $300 — and I never got the bumper fixed. Even though Nick did more damage than she did, I’m not going to ask him for anything, not even the cost of the touch-up paint I probably won’t buy. It all comes down to time and maturity, and I’ve changed a lot in the last three years, both in how I deal with cars and how I deal with people. If that woman had hit me a little later on, she would’ve saved herself some money.

So Maha in the Mazda, if you’re reading this, drop me a line. I think I owe you something.

You know, like lunch.

I’m still keeping that money.

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