The first thing I felt after the impact was sheer, murderous rage at the driver responsible for what I knew was going to be a very expensive fender bender.
The second thing I felt was a gentle wave of compassion and forgiveness for the poor fellow, because we all make mistakes.
And then I asked myself an important question: "How am I going to explain to my wife that I just backed my car into her parked vehicle with enough force to tear the bumper off not just her car, but mine as well?"
I live in an old farmhouse in the country. At the back of the house is a generous parking area. Normally, my wife and I park alongside one another, leaving room behind for any visitors.
On Saturday, my wife left the house early to run some errands So when my daughters arrived in their two cars for our regular Saturday family breakfast, they parked in her spot and in the spare space, leaving lots of room for my wife to slip her car in behind.
So far, so good.
My wife got home just as the eggs were sizzling in the pan, and as always, we had a lovely, chatty family visit.
When the breakfast was done we tidied up and chatted a bit more. But soon, inevitably, the girls had to leave. We waved goodbye as they drove away, then my wife and I talked about how the rest of the day would go.
"We have a tee-off time at 2 o'clock," I said. "So what do you need me to do before then?"
Well, my wife had a long list of errands she needed me to run. She said, "You need to be back here at 1:15. So that only gives you just over an hour and a half. Can you do it?"
I rolled my eyes at her. "Of course I can. Why do you think I am incapable of meeting even the most simple of deadlines?"
"Oh, I don't know. 30-some years of experience? You better get rolling."
I grabbed the grocery list and bolted out the door, remembering as I got in the car that I didn't have the carry bags for the groceries, but fine, there are only a few, this once we can use plastic, and if I go to the gas station first I can save time on the drive and avoid construction ...
So I threw the car into reverse and stepped on the gas, thinking, "...and really, if I'm a tiny bit late getting back, it's no big d - ..."
When you do something as monumentally stupid as backing into your own parked car, it is very frustrating. I mean, not only have you done something utterly witless, but there is nobody else to blame.
I couldn't very well blame my wife for parking there. It was where we always park when there are extra cars, and really, it's not a specially made invisible car, it's not like it fell from the sky, I couldn't claim it was hiding behind a tree and leapt out at me.
It was parked. Right there. A big, honking, 2 ton car, plainly visible to the naked eye. If that naked eye wasn't attached to a guy too dopey to look for it as he got into his own car or, say, to check his rear view mirror before gunning his engine.
My wife was inside, running a vacuum, and hadn't heard the crash. I surveyed the damage, picked up the various pieces of car scattered all over my driveway, and slowly walked back into the house.
As she saw me come in, she said, "Shouldn't you be on your way to the store?"
"Well, yes. But ... I've had a bit of car trouble."
"What kind of car trouble?"
"I sort of had an accident."
"What, somebody hit you as you pulled onto the road? How many times have I warned you to look ..."
"Well, more like I kind of hit someone. Well, not someone. You. Well, not you. Your car."
"My car? But my car is parked .... ohhhh ..."
She went out to look at the damage. Which was hard to hide. When two bumpers are lying on the ground, you can't really chuckle and say "Oh, that will just buff out."
The good news? When I took the cars into the auto body shop, the cost of getting them fixed wasn't nearly as bad as I figured it would be.
The bad news? What you pay the auto body people is only a tiny fraction of the cost of doing something this stupid.
I figure I am going to be paying for this little fender bender for a long, long time.