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I Let The Guy Who Crashed My Car Go Without Paying Damages (And Now I Feel Guilty!)

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Dealing with frustrating people hasn’t been my forte as far as I can remember. Monday’s car accident confirmed this. This narration is not about the fact that I have incurred a damage of close to ₹80,000 on my car due to someone else’s fault. This narration is a guilt trip of a person who hasn’t been able to convince himself to resort to shouting or violence or willingness to sit in a police station for long hours to get justice.

So it seemed like this Monday would be a good one. A Monday that followed Diwali and a joyful weekend for most of us. So, yesterday afternoon in the post-monsoon heat, which is surprisingly cruel this time,  I took my beloved car to meet someone. Ironically, it was to be a public relations meeting to improve my professional relations.

Now, I’m not going to sulk about the increasing traffic on the western express highway because I understand building the metro rail is good for all Mumbaikars in the long term.

Let me go into the flashback. It’s 1.15 pm. I’m driving on the flyover just in front of the Times of India building on the Malad highway. Despite barricades having been put up and a mild jam, I somehow luckily manage to find a lane which is comparatively emptier. Now, here is the clear picture – on my right side there is the divider and the left side of my lane has these barricades all along, till the foot of the flyover, to stop vehicles from coming in the lane in which I am driving. As my lane is empty, I’m happily driving down, when I suddenly and shockingly, feel a major thud. There is a loud sound. A taxi has hit my car on the middle left side of my beloved car. The reason I am shocked is because there are barricades on my left side and a divider on my right. How can it be possible? Then it dawns that there must be a gap between the two barricades.

I stop the car, get down and I see a cab driver coming out of his vehicle which has a yellow number plate. So, clearly, the driver was so impatient with a jam on his lane that he was doing a change of lane after finding a gap between the barricades on his right. He did all this without paying much attention to the oncoming vehicle from the back of the right side.

Let me bother you with a little technicality. I have seen lots of drivers unknowingly driving into blind spots. When a person drives a vehicle into an area and he’s not aware of certain areas that he cannot see and ignores the instinct to stop or not move in those directions, he is most likely to get into an accident, hitting someone or something. And all that just because he can’t see.

I understand the entire situation. I get out of the car and have my phone with me. I do a recording of the lane I am driving in and his position. How could he possibly have hit me? All this, while the driver starts providing excuses. He also makes it a point to tell me that I am wrong.

When an accident happens, people sometimes don’t even realise how they have screwed up and usually begin by reacting defensively from the first second onwards. These kinds of people make sure that they don’t stop talking.

I hate it when people don’t accept responsibility and believe that shouting and raising voice will somehow be its best option. It is a very common sight.

But I, keeping my calm, ask him to get the car in the corner. I survey both our damages and come to the conclusion that the damage was major in my car and that I would need to use my car insurance. But I would still need to pay. All those owners with more than 3-year-old cars will understand this.

I continue with my decision to stay calm and handle this man with facts and ask him to pay a fair amount for my damage.

And mind you, all this, while the driver is shouting and making up fake stories using absurd logic to say that I am wrong. And making phone calls to his friends.

Then I see there is a police van coming, but I respectfully tell them that I can handle it because I’m so confident that my reasoning with patience will work as he will accept his mistake.

The owner of the cab also comes. He obviously hears his own driver’s story first. And gets all upset on me. It doesn’t bother me, but I still believe I should deal with him reasonably, so I ask him to come sit in my car in the AC and understand what happened. And eventually, I tell him he owes me a few thousand bucks for his own driver’s fault. He refuses to pay. He doesn’t listen and keeps ranting on loop.

Mind you, I am a human, and after an hour of this exercise in the hot sun at 2 pm, my belief and patience are fading. I am afraid that I’ll stoop to his level since the urge to shout and swear is so strong. But I am also scared of not reaching his level.

I head to the police station, which is only 100 feet away. The owner also reaches after 10 minutes.

And somehow before stepping into the station, all those thoughts and advices come flashing back in my head, which have been fed to me since childhood – to never get involved in a police case. “Let it go, nothing comes out of it. It is more stressful.”

Sadly, as I step in, I find the environment inside very unfriendly for a person who wants to talk and not shout and be logical and wants to be heard for fair play.  Eventually, I feel my throat become dry, my breathing become fast and all sort of negative emotions and hopelessness creep up. And….. I give up.

Patience fading off, belief in logic fading off, fear of wasting more time and energy hopelessly building up.

I couldn’t find who to blame —

The cab drivers – who on the road are either speeding up or slowing down or talking on phone, among other things and are always in a hurry.

The licensing authority – which issued his driving license without checking whether he understands and has respect for the rules of safe driving.

The owner of the cab – who is constantly putting pressure on their cab drivers to earn more and do more shifts, which results in more driving in a day and also faster driving.

The barricade setting crew of the highway – for the gaps in the barricades that encouraged the cab driver to take a short-cut and hit my car coming from the adjoining lane.

The people in my life – who always advised me to stay away from a police station. As it is, it means more stress and loss of time with no possibility of fair play. I have always been fed hopelessness.

Or myself – that I tried dealing with people with patience, calmness and logic. But with no one listening from any side and this strong feeling that I’m wasting my time and my life on those who are just not concerned about my pain and loss, I gave up.

I am so sure I have a lot to grow.

_

Image source: Michael Coghlan/ Flickr
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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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