Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Hit and Run

     Recently, work sends me out of town. After dropping Deanne off at the bus stop, I fill gas, then head for the arterial that connects to H1 Freeway. We'd left early at 5:40m, my usual time, so it is still dark.
     A red light. Trying to make a right turn. Traffic already heavy—though not bumper to bumper—and no way to safely enter the steady flow. After the briefest of pauses, oncoming cars begin making left turns onto the street I desire to enter; they must have a left-turn green arrow that gives them the right of way. A short pause, then Thunk!—my car jiggles, having been struck from behind by a vehicle—a white pick-up, a quick look in my rear-view mirror reveals. I swear and a moment later the light turns green so I ease forward while checking to see if the truck will follow so we can investigate damages and exchange information. It does. An immediate right onto the street—truck still following—and another right into a convenience store parking lot, and Zoom!—the truck whizzes off down the road. I peer out the window to catch its license plate but it's too dim and distant—just a blur blending into darkness.
     I put the car's gear into Park and get out, expecting to see a bashed-in trunk or dented in bumper. Around the back fender there's...nothing, no damages, not even a scratch. (Well there are lots of pre-existing scratches, but no new ones). Inside the trunk beneath the carpet liner, there's only virgin metal; no creases or crinkles. No muffler damage or leaking fluids outside underneath, either. Good enough. On to work.
     Upon arrival, it's well lighted. Only then do I notice upon closer inspection that the passenger side rear fender, just beneath the natural seam, is distended for half its length by a quarter inch. Above the seam is metal, below is rubberized plastic. Has the lower portion just been knocked out of place? It appears so. Gentle kicks and nudges don't drop it into place, so I leave it for later.
     After I get home, two long screw drivers inserted behind, lift the flange up and ease it back into its slot. Praise God!—as good as new! (Or, at least it's the same as before.)
     I later share with Deanne and the kids that I suspect the driver doesn't have long for this world. My car was motionless. Why did he hit me? Then, rather than do the right thing and check for damages, he digs out and in essence says, “The heck with you—catch me if you can!”
     “Did he have a license? Was that his car? Was it stolen?” I ask rhetorically. “To have such a lack of concern or respect for fellow man—what does that say about him?” Everyone's quiet and attentive. I don't think his future looks too bright.”
     Then I share with them what they should do if they ever bump into anyone: stop somewhere safe, inspect for damages, and follow the instructions on the back of the insurance card. It says, “Don't admit fault,” but if it's clearly your fault, you should apologize,” I say.
     “As things turned out, I probably would have let things go. But I would have certainly asked, 'What happened? How'd you hit me?'”
     I tell Deanne during our evening walk, “In Hilo, this would never have happened. You'd probably recognize the truck. Or someone would stop and say, 'I know that guy, he lives at so and so.' That's the thing about small towns—everyone knows everyone.”
     Honolulu is getting to be ever bigger, ever more cosmopolitan, and ever more mainland-like. There are still lots of considerate people with plenty of aloha—at the job site, in stores, and at the librarybut more and more we're seeing that every-man-for-himself attitude and behavior. It's sad and disturbing.

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