In her Jpost column Uncommon Sense, Geulah responded to readers’ letters.
I live in an apartment on the sixth floor. Late one night, when my wife was hanging laundry, she was horrified to see a vehicle backing into our new car. Being inappropriately dressed, she couldn’t race down in time to confront the culprit. Although the damage wasn’t disastrous, it also wasn’t negligible (400 shekels, plus a day of being carless). But what was really painful wasn’t the cost. The offending Peugeot belongs to a neighbor, whom I consider(ed) a good friend. My wife was pretty certain that very night, but to be completely sure, we checked all the autos in the parking light the next morning, and found blue paint from our car on his fender.
Because no note was left on our windshield, and no message on our answering machine, I waited several days, hoping my friend would come in to talk with us. He didn’t.
I am very upset. If he or his wife was driving, why don’t they apologize and pay? The only excuse I can imagine is that the basher was their 18-year-old son, a newly-minted driver, and that he hasn’t told his parents. My wife says that I should initiate the discussion, because it’s important for these people to know about their son’s driving and evading responsibility, so that they can re-educate him.
It is very difficult to sustain a warm relationship with someone you suspect is inconsiderate and/or dishonest. Even being civil when you meet him in the elevator is tough! However, being worth a lot more than 400 shekels, friendship merits efforts to preserve or restore it. As the injured party, you may feel that HE should take the first step; but true friends don’t bother which such petty calculations. It’s obvious that you won’t rest until you know the truth, and you won’t know the truth until the two of you talk. In the meantime, don’t rush to judge him.
Superficially, the picture is clear: his car thumped yours, and his silence is deafening. At second glance, however, a lot is obscure. Who was driving — your friend, his wife or his son? Could it have been someone else — an employee perhaps? If so, your friend might be completely ignorant of the incident.
Did the driver know the auto is yours? After all, you mentioned it is new. Maybe the driver recognized your former one and didn’t know you traded it in. If the driver did know, maybe he/she intends to contact you and just hasn’t gotten around to it. If the driver didn’t know the owner’s identity, why didn’t you find a note? Could winter winds have blown it away, or rain disintegrated it?
Although talking about the accident may be unpleasant, you have nothing to lose. As things stand now, with suspicion and bitterness gnawing at you, the friendship no longer exists. If, since the bang-up, you have been cool to your friend, he may be bewildered but hesitant to ask you to explain. In the best-case-scenario (which is what I’m hoping for), a frank discussion will expose the facts and bring both of you relief. The son’s possible guilt will automatically arise, and if he is indeed to blame, his parents will decide, on their own, how to handle the situation. (Resist any temptation to lecture; the father will be squirming enough, thank you). If you end up learning that your worst suspicions are true, you will sadly have to relinquish this false friendship, but at least you will be able to put the whole incident behind you.