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Feel free to wreck our old car

Which is exactly the thought that came to mind when someone else’s car plowed into the right rear door of our 12-year-old Toyota, leaving a dent the size of a small barangay.

Fortunately, no one was hurt.

Save for the financial injuries that would be sustained later by the guilty party, no human, animal, or plant life was harmed by the incident.

Although I did lose sleep. Literally.

After all, the incident took place at six in the morning and I was roused from bed by our excitable landlady who lived two doors away.

According to her, the minute she heard a crash, she was already at our door, knocking relentlessly, with the urgency of someone demanding rent from difficult tenants.

Her persistence paid off.

As soon as I answered the door, I promptly told her that our rent was current and that my wife and I preferred to deal with matters domestic once we were wide awake.

But when she told me what happened, I became as sober as a priest performing extreme unction.

I immediately rushed to the scene, right across the street, wearing nothing but a pair of boxers and a cheap, loud shirt that said, “Ask me about homeopathy.”

Upon my arrival, I was accosted by a guy much like myself, only older, more useful to society, and had better taste in clothes.

He pulled on his cigarette as he extended a hand in greeting. I then heard him mutter an apology and say something about how his son caused the whole trouble in the first place.

He pointed to a boy barely in his teens with a weak smile on his face.

Turns out that the boy that morning was given the keys to the family car. And while waiting for the designated driver to bring him to school, he turned on the ignition, fiddled with the wheel, and pretended that he was either Michael Knight or Michael Schumacher.

The boy’s illusions were shattered the moment he crashed his right front fender into our car, which had undergone a general checkup the previous month. (To ensure that it ran like a dream, we had to go through a financial nightmare.) Unwilling to be worked up by the whole situation, I immediately demanded a settlement, one that was in my favor.

Besides telling the father to have the whole door repaired, I demanded that some dings in the car’s exterior should also be fixed and repainted as well, as consolation and payment for our inconvenience.

I knew I was pushing it.

But there is such a thing as good luck.

The father was only too happy to comply with my requests since he happened to run a specialty automotive shop in the area.

Right after we both examined the extent of the damage, I gave him the keys and we began to talk about the difficult art of maintaining an automobile.

It was the beginning of a mutually-beneficial relationship, based on trust and goodwill.

Once the door is fixed, I’ll be asking him to give me an estimate for the car’s paint job.

No harm in requesting a deep discount.

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