While sitting parked in your car, a car next to you opens their door carelessly, hitting your car. What do you do?
Mine is a rather sad story. Quick, simple, and stupid, but the results were severe, maybe too severe.I had this happen while I was sitting in my brand new 2004 Toyota Prius. I had the car less than a month and was in our building’s parking structure. The parking structure was the ramp type, so all of the spaces were on a slope except for the ends. I was parked in a spot designated for compact cars and I had backed into the space.* I was showing the features of my new car to a co-worker that was interested in the hybrid-electric technology. The car was on, but the engine was not running. The guy parked next to me was driving a full-sized Suburban (definitely not a compact car) and had wedged it into the compact space next to me, nose-in (so we were driver’s door to driver’s door). When he walked up, he just flipped the door handle and let the door swing out and bounce against my door. I rolled down the window and said “Jesus man, have some respect, will ya?” The guy whipped around, obviously unaware that I was in the car when he walked up. He said nothing and just got into his vehicle and fired it up. I tried to get out of my vehicle to look at the damage, but he started backing out, so I had to close my door so he wouldn’t hit me. He hit my side mirror on the way out gouging a chunk of plastic out of the housing. As soon as he cleared, I jumped out of the vehicle and he was getting ready to drive away, so I screamed “I have your licence plate and a witness a$$hole!”. I didn’t have the plate number, but I was ready to chase him down the ramp to get it and my co-worker got out of the vehicle. The guy rolled down his window and proceeded to ask me why I was just sitting in my car like some psychopath. I asked him why he was some self-entitled prick that thought it was OK to beat up other people’s cars like a douche bag. He let out a string of profanities and roared down the parking ramp. I got back into my car with my co-worker and we followed him down the ramp at a more than safe speed, when we got to the exit he went through the monthly pass line and I had to go through the attendant line and show my company ID to get out. He got away, but we got his plate number.When I got to the front of the attendant line, the parking manager was in the booth with the regular parking girl. He asked me to exit and come back into the structure to discuss my travel down the ramp. Crap. So, I came around and re-entered the garage to talk to the parking manager. He wanted to know why I was coming down the ramp like my arse was on fire, he had me on video and he intended on reporting me to my company. I and my co-worker explained what had happened with the guy in the Suburban. The egress of the guy in the Suburban wasn’t lost on the manager either. Since there were two different incidents (the door and hitting the mirror), he had me fill out two different incident forms. He told me that the door ding was one thing, but hitting the mirror and leaving could be turned over to the police for hit and run, but since the manager could identify the guy because he has a monthly pass, he was going to refer it to the owner of the pass to talk about paying for damages. That said, my speeding was not excused and he was going to turn me into my company. I thought that was a bit unfair, but agreed and went on my way.The next day at work I was called down to HR expecting to get an earful about the speeding. It turned out that pass and the vehicle belonged to my company. They asked me to fill out another incident report regarding what they were calling an “Employee Altercation Incident”. I was interviewed for about an hour and felt like I was being interrogated, especially about which way the vehicles were pulled in, who got there first, and who hit whom. I was later asked to sign a summary statement of the incident. I talked to the co-worker that was in my car and he had gotten the very same treatment. The driver was an engineering VP in our company and had provided a much different accounting of the events, basically saying that I was the one that hit and ran, but his story didn’t add up. Not because I had a witness, but because they had the video from the parking structure showing that he exited down the ramp first.The final result? The company paid for all of the damages on my car, but I still got written up for a safety incident because I gave chase to the VP down the parking ramp. The VP did not fare so well. He was demoted to a Manager, loss of pay, and received other censures. I asked my HR Director what the whole deal was as it seemed extreme to me. I thought the guy was a class-A prick, but this was a career-crippling result. She couldn’t elaborate on the specifics, but she said that hitting my door was a passable mistake, not backing in with a company vehicle was a low-level company safety incident, leaving the scene of an accident was high-level safety incident, but his largest mistake was when lied about the incident. That action was an Ethics and Integrity violation and an intolerable violation for any employee, much less a corporate officer. She said he was very lucky to have kept a job at all.I saw the guy around the office a few times, but he never said a word to me. Frankly, I felt a bit sorry for him. He left the company within a year as he was never going to be moving up in ours.Thinking back to this incident doesn’t bring up feelings of anger, but just sadness. Such a stupid thing created so much damage.* Backing into spaces became a habit for me while working for the company as it was a safety requirement when driving a company vehicle. Some think tank somewhere had proven that most accidents happened while backing out of parking spaces, so our company made it mandatory. It is a practice I use to this day with my personal vehicles and I even back into my garage.