On the way to get my hair done (which I rarely do, because I don't sit still well) someone - lets call him Driver X -- crashed into my car.
The impact of his Honda on my Santa Fe felt like a head butt by kindergartener.
No airbags went off.
Not bad. Not something I'd want to do again; not something I've ever done, so today I let go my perfect no-car-accident 25 year perfect streak that has been running since 1986 -- nine years longer than "Driver X" has been alive. That's fine.
Neither of us were hurt, but our cars looked a bit mangled.
We called the cops and waited. No injuries, no hurry.
He was shaking (a little) so I got him out of the car for awhile so we could talk under the canopy of a convenient (like a movie!) old oak tree in front of a huge house off Thomasville Road.
I drilled him on things I'd seen on Cops and Dog the Bounty Hunter.
"You have a license? You're in America legally? You only have one ID in your wallet, right, not like 10? Any warrants? Any weapons"
(He laughed - he looked like he belonged on the set of Glee or High School Musical).
"Your car is legal? Not stolen? The plates aren't altered? And no one is hiding in the trunk? You're not trafficking humans, seriously, tell me know, pay me off and we'll split it -- also, there is a cap to how much cash you can have on you without looking suspicious..."
After about twenty minutes of my thoughtful interrogation, he still looked off and odd like he'd been in a BIG ACCIDENT and not the minor crash we were blessed with.
I asked him directly, "What's wrong?"
"I feel guilty, I'm so sorry I hit you."
I laughed. "If you were going to hit someone, I'm glad it was me. This is no big deal in my world."
But I haven't lectured to students or anyone (my kids have headphones and ignore me for fear of hearing more about the intricacies of Jacksonian politics & etc) so I kept talking.
Because I could.
"Don't feel guilty. Guilt is like self-torture and it's so selfish. And pointless. Be sorry. People who are sorry express regret, make things better and move on. If you're sorry you can come help me move boxes tomorrow...."
Soon enough, the cop was there, the papers were filed and we drove off, a little wiser from afternoon on Thomasville Road.