Accidents Happen, Learning Happens

Photo: Isaiah Rustad

We got rear-ended yesterday. Nobody was hurt. Mani’s car has some significant damage, the repair of which will be covered by the other driver’s insurance. We’re both a little rattled, though. And of course, there’s the hassle of dealing with appraisers, repairs, and all that jazz.

After we’d both pulled over and gotten out of our cars, I asked the woman what happened. She said she didn’t know why I had stopped.


I stopped because there was a yield sign, and there was oncoming traffic where we were about to merge.

If the car in front of you isn’t moving, don’t keep driving.

She was clearly frazzled, as I would’ve been in her shoes. I HAVE been in her shoes. Accidents happen.

She thought her car wasn’t registered (and thus, not currently insured), which meant it would have to be towed. After I had already placed a call to the Amherst Police, the woman pleaded with me to take care of things privately. Later, she again asked, in the presence of the officer, why we had to go through insurance. It was at that point that she said we’d gone to high school (roughly 30 years ago).

We *knew* each other, after all. I told her oh, yeah. I thought you looked a little familiar. But honestly, I’m not sure if I remember her or not. This made me feel somehow deficient, as if I was shitty person for not running over to give her a hug.

The officer said, “Because not going through insurance never works out.” Then the woman asked the police officer if she could get a ride back to work. When the officer said no, she asked ME for a ride.

I told her I needed to think about it. The office asked her to go wait in her vehicle while she wrote up a report. And the woman walked over to my car, knocked on the window, and asked me again for a ride.

“Jena. JENA. Have a heart,” she said, looking me directly in the eye. When I told her I wasn’t comfortable doing that (not to mention the fact that I was cramming about 40 things into a two-hour window), she said, “Why? WHY?”

She didn’t have her cell phone, so she borrowed mine to call her husband, then her father, then her workplace.

She went back to her car and the officer came back to ours a few minutes later. Apparently, this was not her first encounter with the other driver. “Oh, I’ve dealt with her before. She’s always like that,” she said.

The experience pushed all my of boundaries buttons. It was as if she knew it would be hard for me to say “no” to her pleas for a lift. And it wasn’t until later that I was even able to articulate why I felt so uncomfortable and pushed. We were also in the middle of *our* day.

She was acting like a victim, even though she had just hit us. Yet I immediately questioned whether I was being cold or lacking compassion.

Having boundaries does not mean you are cold and heartless.

Yes, I am learning.

4 thoughts on “Accidents Happen, Learning Happens

  1. daniel says:

    Been there. Suffered very similar feelings (“am I wrong?” “should I help this person more”) What you said: “Having boundaries does not mean you are cold and heartless.” Thank you for sharing this. It helps.



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