To the Anonymous A*!hole Who Hit My Car

by Dax-Devlon Ross

I woke up Tuesday morning to an unpleasant surprise. You had hit my car.

It caught me off guard. I was still groggy. Morning was shrugging off a hangover. I’d unlocked the door, as always, and was reaching for the handle.

That’s when it caught me. My bumper, hanging their like a thirsty dog’s tongue.

After the initial shock — I literally turned back around and went back inside — I returned to make a more complete inspection. Dark scrapes above the left tire. Pieces of the fiberglass on the ground. The thirsty bumper still waiting for a drink of water. I’d hoped it wasn’t so bad; it was bad enough.

I was angry at you. But more than that I was disappointed. At some point whether in haste, a state of distraction or with reckless disregard you hit me and drove away.

Accidents happen every day. I was in one a few weeks ago. Matter fact,  the insurance  company called me just before I sat down to write this. I gave a statement. They told me not to worry. I was covered. The lady I grazed would get her car fixed. I went back to work. End of story.

That called taking responsibility. I hit her. I pulled over. I waited for the cops. I filed a report. You didn’t do any of this. And because you didn’t I’ve already lost time, money and at least a shred of my faith in humanity.

I did my best to be Zen about the incident. Mine was a first world problem, a middle-class problem. It was just a car, a material possession. I could get the car fixed. It wouldn’t cost that much. And it would be as good as new.

But being Zen misses the point. I shouldn’t have to clean up your mess. You  shouldn’t have simply driven away.

What is it I would’ve wanted, you ask? Money? An apology? An explanation? A good, solid swing? Better policing? More cameras on the streets? Really, I would take anything. Anything. Because the worst part about a hit and run is that I don’t know anything so I can’t do anything other than pick up the pieces, put ’em in my pocket, and, in my case, drive to the mechanic.

I shouldn’t have to tell you that living in this world is hard enough on its own. The natural disasters. The brutality of the seasons. Accidents. Disease. Illness. The fact that people like you make it harder pains me to no end. You’re not the only one. I see it in our constant climbing, clawing and backstabbing to get on top of one another, in our abuse of authority and acceptance of mediocrity at all levels of society, and in our allegiance to senseless practices that serve no rational purpose other maintaining the status quo.

We can make different choices — choices that reflect our best selves — at any time. That’s the change I really want to see. I want it more than a new financial system, more than free healthcare, more than full employment, and more than relief from debt. Us making different choices. Us practicing self-efficacy. Us taking personal accountability. Us treating one another with real not fake-for-the-camera decency.

Forgive me for sounding shallow or naive, but, dammit, if we just tried a little harder the world could be such a better place to live. Which isn’t to say we’re doing bad. Despite the surprisingly widespread perception that global violence and random destruction is leading us to the brink of disaster, we live in the least violent time in human history, one in which the chances of you or I dying a violent death is as close to zero as its ever been. Even enemies are generally civil to one another.

But just because we stand a better chance than our ancestors of sticking around  doesn’t mean we should pat ourselves on the back. Civilization is evolving. Democracy is evolving. Our conduct toward one another should be evolving as well.

The greed I see Americans “occupying” against is just one sympton of the widespread epidemic. Greed is what we can solve through the systems we have in place. We actually have, at our disposal, the tools to prevent greed from running amuck. We can reign in wealth disparity. We can ensure that people are protected and safe and fed. We have the resources, the technology, the institutions, the intellect  and, I believe, the will to make more a just society.

But even once we resolve our financial issues we still have to address our ethical issues. How I treat you and you treat me and we both treat the world around us sometimes comes down to money but always come down to morals.  We have to be willing to take responsibility not just for our beliefs but our actions. And that can show up in all sorts of ways:

  • How we treat others
  • How we make and spend our money
  • How we spend our time (and who we spend it with)
  • How we use our power
  • How we care for the environment

After I dropped the car off at the shop I asked myself what I would have done if I was you. I would’ve thought about the cost of fixing the car. I would have thought about my insurance premiums shooting up. And, you know, those are perfectly natural first thoughts, so I don’t blame you for being selfish initially. What I would hope is that I wouldn’t stop there. I’d take into consideration the chain of events that I’d set in motion. I’d acknowledge that driving away wasn’t a solution. That wouldn’t stop anything–not even my sense of responsibility. Sure, I’d forget. But then I’d remember. And at some point I’d have to face my actions. No matter what else I might be or do in the world, I would be also be a coward. Not because I drove off. Not because I left someone else to clean up my mess. I’d be a coward for one reason and one reason alone: I ran from the reality that we’re all in this shit together.