I am a terrible driver.

When I was fifteen my brother’s girlfriend taught me how to drive, so I blame her. Kidding. I actually overheated her engine that night by pressing the gas and the brake at the same time…two pedals, two feet, right?

When I was seventeen I skidded through a (luckily empty) four way stop, and nearly hit a stone wall. Fortunately a street sign and a ditch slowed me down a bit. When I told a friend about the extent of the accident I was able to get into all by myself (with nary another car nor leaping deer in sight), he asked me if I had been drinking. When I said no, he said, “I wouldn’t admit that to anyone if I were you.” (That comment always elicited the greatest laugh from my father when he told the story over and over again for years. At the time, however, it wasn’t nearly as funny…because I had been driving his car.)

Things have improved over the years. I’d like to think I am a better driver now (especially with my loved ones in the car). However, upon arriving at her chemo treatment the other day, my mother may have made some comment to one of the nurses to the effect that if my driving didn’t kill her, the chemo probably wouldn’t either.

(Was that what you said, Mom? I may be paraphrasing.)

All of this preamble is leading up to telling you I got into an accident today.

I’m fine. It was very minor.

I was at a gas station, and I backed up and scraped a woman’s bumper. I got out of the car and apologized to her as we assessed the damage – no dent, just some scuffed paint. Still, I thought for sure she was going to insist on calling the police, which would have caused me to miss making it to the bus stop in time to pick up my children.

She asked if we could exchange insurance information, just in case. I fumbled through my wallet and glove box but I couldn’t find any proof of insurance. Again I thought she’d want to call the police, but she didn’t.

Perhaps seeing my flustered demeanor and catching my furtive glance at my watch, she kindly offered, “I think that’ll buff right out.”

I gave her my name and number, and we agreed she would call me if any repairs were needed.

I drove away thinking about how we always have a choice – to be kind. I’m sure she was annoyed that I had backed into her. It was completely my fault. She could have been hostile or rude. She could have insisted the police were called, instead of trusting a stranger to make good on a promise.

She chose to be compassionate and kind…and I was so grateful.

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