It’s never a good thing to wake up in the middle of the night to someone pounding on your door. In the fuzziness of sleep, there isn’t even time to start worrying about the possibilities outside the door: fire? a thief? a child who needs help?
We woke up in the early hours of Tuesday morning to our neighbor informing us that Jonathan’s car was hit in front of our house, along with our third neighbor’s car. Apparently, the crash sounded like an explosion and the other car’s alarm was going off. We sleep like rocks and hadn’t heard a thing.
A young high school student was speeding down our street and had misjudged how close she was to the parked cars. Fortunately, our little red Acura only lost his side mirror. Our neighbor’s car was hit very hard, with its wheel turned in and bumper hanging off.
All in all, the ordeal will cost us very little– a few precious hours of sleep. But, what I did come to appreciate is how a car accident forced us to finally meet our neighbors. There we were, huddled on the sidewalk in our goofy pajamas, each pondering why 16 year olds are given driver’s licenses. Turns out, the guy three doors down is Australian. And, he’s putting a pool in the backyard right now. SCORE! Another neighbor (who lives just steps away from our apartment) has had her mother living with her for an entire year, and we’ve never noticed.
Once everyone returned to their sleepy dark houses, and I had resolved to get to know my neighbors a little better, I wandered over to the driver and asked how she was doing. Visibly embarrassed, she responded, “I feel really, really dumb.” Her dad had showed up and he rubbed her shoulders consolingly. In situations such as these, my first instinct is not usually to offer grace. My first thought is to be really annoyed and avoid conversation with the other person because, well, she hit our car and it was sort of a dumb mistake.
But we’ve all made dumb mistakes. (Anyone remember when I mixed up ‘gas’ and ‘break’ on the golf cart and rammed into my uncle’s car? I’m certain Grandma Jeanne still remembers since I sent her flying off the back. Whoops.)
But, for some reason (growing older? or maybe just being half asleep?) I said, “You know what? It’s really okay. We’re glad you’re not hurt and you don’t have to be embarrassed at all. This stuff happens.” It felt good to say those words, and mean those words. It felt good to look at her and see myself– the self of past and self of future. It also felt good to have a very, itsy bitsy tiny glance of what grace looks like on the giving end, and the receiving end. I realized I don’t offer grace enough, which also makes it very difficult to receive grace when it’s offered to me.
You know what else felt really good? Getting a rental car today from her insurance company. It’ll be really tough and totally inconvenient for Jonathan to have to take a four wheel drive Toyota Highlander up skiing tomorrow in the snow, instead of his 1990 Acura.