Sometimes accidents happen in life
from which we have need of a little madness
to extricate ourselves successfully.
-François de la Rochefoucauld
On Monday night it snowed.
After midnight, it changed over into ice- little pellets bouncing in the snow.
At some point, it slid into a freezing rain, “glazing” what had already fallen. Making it slick and deceptively pretty, but potentially deadly, quite like a Krispy Kreme doughnut.
I live on a rural road and my house sits ominously between two sharp curves, both indicated by obscenely large signs in screaming yellow. Most cars tend to drive by hesitantly, on tiptoe, as if afraid to disturb us.
Tuesday morning, I handed Jeff his lunch cooler and coffee mug and told him that the roads seemed fine, people were driving past at a decent clip.
Apparently I was wrong. As were many of those drivers, I guess, as tow trucks were kept busy all day long.
At the end of our road is a one lane bridge, and Jeff was forced to swing off the road to avoid a collision from a car that couldn’t or just plain didn’t stop. His car suffered a broken tail light and some body damage.
Another car came around one of our curves and lost control, driving through my mailbox, sliding down a hill, maiming my magnolia and seriously turfing my front yard.
Inside the house, the kids and I were completely oblivious to the excitement outside, until a knock at the door revealed a downtrodden and sheepish young man in a sopping wet leather jacket. Water dripping off the end of his nose, he told me he owed me a mailbox. I looked past him and saw the car in the yard, and- I couldn’t help it- clapped my hand over my mouth and laughed.
“Oh my,” I said. I’m not even kidding. Oh My. It appears that at heart, I am an elderly Southern woman.
“I’ll pay for it,” he murmured. “The tow truck is on its way.”
“I’m so sorry,” and he started to back away.
I felt so sorry for him. He looked like a kicked puppy.
“It’s okay,” I said. “Are you all right?”
He nodded and shuffled back up to his car.
I don’t know, maybe other people know what they’re supposed to do at this point. Call Geico or whatever. I had to do work, but I know what’s really important, so I told Jake to take some pictures for the blog. (They all focused on the screen in the window. Note to self: show Jake how to use camera.)
The tow truck came, as did, somewhat surprisingly, a police officer, who gave me an incident report (do they have printers in cop cars now or what?) and the guy’s phone number. “He wants to pay for the mailbox,” Officer Freezing Rain told me. I was completely distracted by the form-fitting plastic bag that was protecting his- what? Hat? Cap? Is there a special word for the thing officers wear on their head? “You can settle it between the two of you, or you can go through insurance, it’s up to you.”
He left before I got up the nerve to ask if I could photograph his head gear.
Here’s the photos of the carnage.
The top of the mailbox actually flew into the middle of the road and then someone else hit it, so that it skittered to the edge.
At this point I decide to call Jeff and tell him the mailbox has gone on to the dead letter office in the sky.
“Did you get the name and license number?” he asked with suspicion in his voice.
“Did you get his phone number?”
No. Wait! Yes! I have the incident report thingie.
“Did you ask him WHEN he was going to buy us our mailbox?”
Well, no. See, I hadn’t really thought this through. Certainly I didn’t expect him to show up next day with a shiny new mailbox wrapped up in a big red bow, but…
I got a scolding for being soft-hearted, being too nice. A bleeding heart treehugger liberal. Same old song.
When I tried to explain that I felt bad for the kid, and I really did think he was going to make good on the mailbox, and that I honestly didn’t care anyway, it wasn’t like I was emotionally attached to our mail receptacle, that only made it worse. Jeff doesn’t believe the things that people say. He pretty much thought that I had been scammed.
“You are going to call him tonight and demand to know when we are getting our mailbox.”
But, before we had even finished our dinner, the doorbell rang and there stood Mailbox Boy, checkbook in hand. Jeff gave me a look and said he’d handle it, going outside and shutting the door behind him.
A while later he came back in. “That kid is a gentleman.”
Jeff had taken only half the amount the kid had tried to pay.
“I felt bad for him,” he said.
I laughed. And he laughed. And it felt so good to laugh at ourselves, after the most stressful, tense, dark month that I can remember living through in a long time. The sound has been so long absent that the kids looked at us doubtfully, not sure how to process this madness.
Kid drives into our front yard and all we can talk about is how we hope he doesn’t think we’re upset or mad about it. The address on the check is only a few houses away. We worry that he will feel badly every time he drives by. We feel like the guilty parties for not being nicer. And dude, I feel old, getting all mother hen over a kid who must have been at least 24 or 25.
But I feel good. We could have been nicer, sure, but we were pretty nice. It paid off, reaffirmed my faith in the basic goodness of strangers. I like when that happens.
Plus, I get to buy a new mailbox 🙂 Whoop whoop!
Tomorrow it’s supposed to snow, AGAIN. I’m thinking of strategically placing my trash cans…
** By sheer coincidence, this post is a very loose interpretation of one of the writing prompts this week in Mama Kat’s Pretty Much World Famous Writing Workshop (photo journal entry of what winter looks like in your town). So we’ll pretend that was totally intentional. Go check out the other entries! **