My bad is not sufficient

This past week I spent a lovely, relaxing time in Key West with my husband. It’s been 3 years since our last real vacation, and we’d saved for the treat. It was nice.

When we arrived home from our sojourn, the first thing Steve noticed – in the dark of night, no less – was that someone had smashed into our parked car in our absence. Upon further investigation, we found that the culprit had stepped up and admitted her folly (she thought she’d hit our neighbour’s garbage can) and offered to pay the cost of repairs. That’s cool and honourable, and as a result, my well-earned mellow wasn’t harshed by the incident.

If it ended there, it would be a nice story about how taking accountability is always the right thing to do. Unfortunately, it doesn’t end there, because apparently this person’s idea of taking accountability includes strings. In order to pay for her mistake, the perpetrator wanted me to go to her preferred body shop, whom she’d pay in cash, to get the work done. After all, as she suggested, her bumper looked way worse than my car (I, of course, never saw her bumper) and it was only going to be $400 to fix that.

It’s not going to cost $400 to fix my car; it’s going to cost $1200. Though she may be less than thrilled by the amount and would prefer I’d drive all over town getting cheaper quotes or potentially getting substandard service from her cash under the table hack, she’s paying it. She may be out a grand, but I’m out my car for a week, plus the two hours it took to get the quote I did get – from a guy I know and trust, by the way. And my investment – my car – is now less perfect than it was when I innocently parked it on the road last Friday.

Taking accountability doesn’t absolve us from responsibility, and it doesn’t give us the right to dictate terms of recompense. A truly honourable person admits fault, and stands up and takes it on the chin, all 1200 bucks of it.