illos,  Life Lessons

The Dent

Like all new car drivers, I like to park my car as far away from everybody else in the parking lot as possible. I don’t mind walking farther if it means avoiding door dings and shopping cart scratches. So when I pulled into the meeting room (church) parking lot, the same rules apply. I surveyed the available spots and opted for a shady spot near the back.

What I didn’t realize was that this Sunday was “All Day Meeting” which means pretty much what it sounds like: meetings all day. And lunch and lots more people from out of town that fill up the parking lot. Silly stupid me. So when I came out to my car after the first meeting, you can imagine my alarm when I saw this big industrial-sized van in primer gray parked RIGHT NEXT to my shiny new car. All I can think is: they are too close! There is no way they can park that close and not smash their doors right into me!!!

I rush out to the passenger side of my car and peer down at where their door would make impact. Sure enough, there’s a tiny crescent shaped nick the size of my very short pinky fingernail. I look directly across to the side of the van and there’s an itty bitty piece of red paint stuck to the corner of their door. ARG!!!!!!!! I knew it would happen! Why! Why! Why was I so dumb to trust that people who go to church are more careful and considerate than the average public. I am an idiot. I should have parked down the street or better yet taken the bus.

The dent is very very very small. In fact when I told Toby about it when I got home, he asked me not to point it out so he could find it for himself. He couldn’t see it. I had to show him. So really there is nothing to get all upset about EXCEPT that I hate it when I think something might happen and then it DOES happen… it’s like having a pet peeve. Or getting kicked when you already have a bruise. Whatever. Maybe I’m over-reacting.

I went back into the meeting room, seething. I know who this van belongs to and I had half a brain to go and confront the guy. Except I’m at church and I’m the prodigal daughter who is coming back to the fold after being gone for ten long years of eating locusts in the desert. I’m not really in a position to be getting confrontational with a “brother” about my big fat shiny new material object that I can’t take to heaven with me when I die. Plus, this guy has a big family and they all pile into their rusty old van that is painted primer gray because that is what they can afford. I could buy FOUR vans AND put braces on all his kids with the money I spent on this car. So I need to eat humble pie with a capital H.

But it gets worse. As we’re standing around talking and greeting people, I am introduced to my denter and he shakes my hand. I’m trying to be nice and not think about The Dent but HE HAS A LIMP FISH HANDSHAKE!!!! His fingers barely touch my palm before he pulls his hand back and shoves it in his pocket. I hate it when people shake hands like that. It’s like a sign that says, “Don’t Trust Me”. A limp hand shake isn’t sincere. Are they afraid they’re going to catch something from me? Why bother shaking hands? Why not just pull the ol’ I-was-just-leaning-forward-but-then-I-decided-to-smooth-my-hair-out-instead move? I don’t know. I was rumbling inside. I wanted to say “Listen Denter, you dented my new car and you shake hands like an old lady!” (I take that back, I know a lot of old ladies who shake hands very warmly and sincerely. So maybe it was like an old lady on her death bed…)

I didn’t say anything. I just smiled and tried to be the better person (or the better wimp according to Toby). This guy probably has no idea he nicked my car. He probably didn’t even notice that my car is shiny and new. Or maybe he did it on purpose to teach me a lesson. I have no idea. Maybe he was yelling at his kids or pondering some scriptures or just in a hurry to get out of the car and wasn’t careful. I’ll probably never know.

At the end of the day it was bound to happen and I’m learning to get over it. Maybe someday I’ll get to know this guy and we’ll laugh about it while we scoop ourselves servings from the mystery casseroles in the pot luck food line.

I have to wrap this up. I’ll have to fill you in on the towel spreading that “Biff” would be proud of tomorrow. The baby is insisting that she CANNOT play by herself and she needs me right this very minute.


  • Marci

    Years ago a woman had the nerve to open her car door right into my new truck WHILE I WAS SITTING IN IT. I vaguely remember having a surge of anger and letting her know that I was pissed. This was after storytime at the library. Sheesh.

    My motto now is that a new car isn’t broken in until its first MINOR dent. My energy is best used to worry about other things.

    Have fun with your new, broken in, car! Babybug is adorable!!!

  • Leah

    The way I look at it, dents are bound to happen sooner or later, so there’s no use getting worked up over it. The limp-fish handshake, though…that deserves some ranting. ;)

  • Annika

    I was the opposite – I got a new car in January and was a complete wrreck until I finally hit a shopping cart in April. I guess I knew it would happen sooner or later and just wanted to get it over with. My husband even offered to knock his Vespa over onto the car but that felt like cheating. Anyway I feel much better with the tiny nick.

  • Annika

    Oh! I just remembered – Mazda gave me a liitle bottle of touch-up paint. It’s like nail polish for my car. Maybe your dealer has the same thing?

  • erika

    yay! it’s broken in, less stress. at least it is teeny tiny. i was eating some food in my car before i went into the grocery store and the wind blew a shopping cart into my car. it was hard and loud! it wasn’t the first dent, but it is the biggest.

    yay for dents. love your illustration, so surreal and reading about it made it so much better. :)

  • Becky Z

    You said it well. I have a hard time with limp handshakes too. I don’t understand why some people do that.

  • BeachMama

    Glad you got that little dent out of the way, now you won’t have to worry about it :).

    I hate those wimpy handshakes, give me the creeps.

    I was out today driving on a beautiful stretch of road along the world’s longest skating rink (the Rideau Canal, in the winter) and if I didn’t know you were in California I would have sworn it was you and Toby in the car behind me, all shiny and new too!!

  • Jennifer

    Sorry you got the dent, but boy did this whole story make me laugh. Denter and the limp fish handshake put me over the edge. When my now OLD car (another german made vehicle) was brand new I went to a supermarket near a retirement community. I don’t know if it’s ALL elderly people who don’t care about other cars or just this particular community but I got no less than 3 dents that afternoon. ONE happened right in front of me! An old man was trying to get his oxygen into the passenger seat and his bony butt was knocking his door into my door. I just cringed and didn’t say anything. I don’t know how to confront elderly people.

  • Betsy

    I have found in my experience that once something minorly damaging happens to something brand new of mine, I rarely have anything happen to it ever again. Or at least, for a reasonable amount of time. Dropped and dinged the edge of my iPod within a week of having it and it’s been perfect ever since. Was ‘gently’ rearended a month after buying my first new car and not a scratch since. I can only hope you have this same luck.

    There is nothing more displeasing in meeting someone (especially a man, but women bug me too) with a weak handshake.

  • aunt kathy

    I’m so sorry about the dent. As you say, “you can’t take it with you”. But in the meantime:) see what you can do about the touch-up paint. I’m sure it’ll do the trick.

  • beck

    *squinting at the illio trying to recognize Denter*
    But I probably don’t know him anyhow.

    I feel the pain (but you have more expensive pain than I) because the herd of gnats I drive through every morning takes the paint off the front of my car in “freckles” if I’m not consistant with wiping the bug guts off.

  • Keely

    The thing about the handshake gave me the chills. The bad kind…like the heeby jeebies. Yuck.

    Our first night out (in our now old car) Daniel and I got rear ended at a red light by a drunk driver who was too busy being drunk and fighting with his also drunk girlfriend to look in front of him. When we got out to look at the damage, the girl tried to pick a fight with me. I was bummed about the whole thing for a few days, but I still love our car.

  • DeeJay

    I bought my Camry 2 years ago this month. Took it to my sister’s house in south Texas for a vacation and on the 5th day of owning it the people across the street from her backed into it and caused $1000 damage. I cried. My brand new car was scarred for life. It’s fixed and you would never know that there was anything wrong before, but I know…..

  • Lu

    better you got a small dent than a big huge bad ass one. it sucks either way, though, but at least it is out of the way now and you can enjoy your car from now on.

  • ash pdx

    Wow! I think you showed a lot of restraint not saying anything to him. I guess there is nothing he could do even if you pointed it out to him since it is not something you would take into a shop.
    Unfortunately, it had to get nicked sometime by a pebble or whatever. What a bummer though to have it happen so soon and to know the culprit.

  • Clownfish

    You have such a Zen readership. I could really knock my BP down a couple notches if I followed their lead. But I’m not there. If someone swings their door into mine, I’m ‘ticked’ (not my true word choice). When I’m getting out of my car, close to another’s, I’ll put my hand on the edge of my door as a buffer between our vehicles.

    Come’on people, we live in a society! What is that Golden Rule saying?…

    No one wants to shake hands with a limp fish. Grow a spine, look me in the eyes and shake my hand!

  • AmyinBC

    Sigh. The new car fears. Had them. But such is life I suppose (although I am still completely anal about where I park!) Sad when our new car is not showroom perfect. I am sad for you. It could have been worse. A co-worker of mine had her first fender bender the day she drove it off the lot! On day two as she waited to get it in the shop for some cosmetic surgery it was rear ended again! Poor woman..

  • Aunt Doreen

    I have a friend that’s an elderly lady and she has had a “limp” handshake for all the years I’ve known her. I have since found out that she has arthritis in both her hands and she is unable to give a good hearty handshake due to the pain. Boy, do I feel bad now!