Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Door dingbat

Rewind to the spring of, say, 2004. It's a few days after I just bought my first (and probably last) brand new car.

Nothing flashy. Just a 2004 Nissan Altima, with enough extra features to allow me to ride in comfort, but nothing garish or unaffordable. The important thing for this anecdote is that the car was new. Not a scratch. Only the miles I put on it during a test drive. New car smell and everything.

So the pride of driving a new car was still with me three days later, as I drove to the very top of the parking garage to park waaaay far away from all the inconsiderate jerkholes who had no respect for other peoples' brand new personal property. I was worried, of course, about the all-too common phenomenon of the door ding — those small dents in your car caused by the careless opening of a door by the occupant of the car parked next to you.

And sure enough, when I returned to my car for the commute home, there was a large divot in the side panel of my formerly new car — just THREE DAYS AFTER I BOUGHT IT!

Pissed? I was. Enraged, even. But it made sense. Buy a new car, put too much emotional energy into the idea of having a new car and fate pretty much demands that you be brought back down to the hard pavement.

To paraphrase John Lennon, instant carma's gonna get you.

Over the past few years I've acquired quite a collection of door dings. Large ones, small ones, long ones, short ones, round ones, deep ones, shallow ones. Sometimes I wonder if it helps my fuel economy, the way the dimples on a golf ball help it slip through the air.

Now whenever I see a new dent, sure, I'm ticked off. Well, disappointed is more the word. The point is, I'm used to it. I've come to accept that it's just a fact of life in the urban environment.

But not everyone has come to that realization.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago, I'm out running errands on a Saturday afternoon. My Supermodel Wife calls and invites me to beat the heat with her and our two daughters at our favorite used book store in JoCo. By the time I arrive, my SMW has already parked and taken the kids inside. I meet up with them, browse for awhile, pick out a few books, read to my 7-year-old for a while. You know, we're having a nice time.

About half an hour into our excursion, a fit-looking 60s-ish woman approaches my SMW and asks if she drives a gray Toyota. SMW says yes. The woman replies that "we have a problem with a door ding" and asks SMW to come outside.

I stay with the kids inside where it's cool. SMW's not too upset. She's also used to getting door dings and anyway it's nice of the lady to come in and report it to us.

Ten minutes later SMW returns to the store. Now she is pissed. The woman hadn't come to confess to denting our car, she came to accuse SMW of denting their car. During the discussion, the woman tells my wife that their Lexus SUV is "the only car we have, and we're always careful not to park where any other cars are…"

Well, SMW said she saw a small scratch in the clear coat, but couldn't conclusively say that it was from our car. Nevertheless, she gave the Lexus owner our phone number. Not sure why she wanted it. If she asked, I'd apologize and say I feel bad about it, but I'm not paying to fix a door ding.

This happened a few weeks ago, and we never heard from the Lexus owners. I'm a bit bummed about that. Because I'd love to get on the phone and explain the realities of driving a car in an urban (suburban) area, and that if your priorities are so far out of whack, you shouldn't be driving such a fine automobile.

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  1. What does it being the only car they own have to do with them being an utter jerkoff?

    I also bought my first new car in 2004. The first night it was at a strip club, the second weekend at the Brooksider. Both poor decisions.

  2. er...the word you're looking for is karma.

    Carma is a hippie chick in the Bay Area; she smells of patchouli, wears flowers in her hair and will give you the crabs. (Or so I hear)

  3. @Nick,

    Nope. Carma was the word I wanted. I understand what karma is, and I was going for a play on the word since I was discussing automobiles (CARma. Get it?)

    I guess I should have thrown in a "pun intended" but I really didn't think it was that subtle.

  4. It wasn't that subtle. Not at all.

    I hate dings on doors! But I'd have to say that my most unfave "ding" was when I chose to park my brand new 2002 BMW in a parrallel position on Ward Pkwy down on the plaza about a week and a half after I got it. When I came out, the asshole who had been parked in front of me (in an SUV) had backed into my car (for no reason! He was the first in "line" on the damned curb!) and popped my grill out of place. It was in pieces. To say I was pissed would be putting it mildly.

    Fortunately, no damage was done to my hood...just the grill had to be put back together and then snapped back into place. The service guys at the dealer said I was lucky. Usually when the grill gets punched out like that, it's because the hood gets bent. But mine was fine.

    I never parked that thing in a parrallel position again. I'm sure it was a totally random occurrence, but still! It messed with my mind, for sure!


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