I was sitting in the passenger seat in my husband’s car in the post office parking lot, waiting for him to mail some bills, when another car pulled out of a parking space and backed directly into our driver-side door. It made a definite crunching sound, so I waited a moment for the driver to pull forward again or at least stop. Nope—she just kept going, right out of the parking lot.
But I'm a mystery writer, right? So of course I got her license number. Beyond that I was pretty much useless as an observer: I could tell you that the driver was a white-haired female, not tall, and that the car was an older model and showed no damage when I watched it pull away (while memorizing the license plate). And that was about it. Don’t ask me to be a witness at your trial.
My husband didn’t even notice the damage when he got into the car. Maybe “damage” is too strong a word: the door panel was slighted pushed in, period. I had to tell him about the incident. To put this into perspective, he drives a 1993 Honda Civic with a lot of rust, so you might guess we aren’t too concerned about appearances, at least where our cars are concerned.
But then we faced a dilemma. Do we report it to the police? There was no question of filing an insurance claim, but still, it was an accident, and the woman had driven away, oblivious, which is itself a crime. So we decided to go talk to the police (I should note that the police station is two blocks from the post office—it's a small town).
Armed with the license number, my husband went into the station. (I, the witness, elected to stay in the car so as not to overwhelm our tiny police force. Besides, it's my husband's name on the registration). An officer entered the license number into his computer and came up with the owner of the car: an 84-year-old local woman driving a ’93 Mercedes. The officer did not reveal whether she has had any prior accidents.
He then offered my husband a choice: one, he could file a formal complaint (which, the officer implied, would involve both time and paperwork), or two, he could call the woman. Huh? The “victim” in this case is supposed to call up a stranger and tell her that she had run into him and didn’t even seem to notice? And that's all?
I was disturbed that the police seemed uninterested in doing anything about this, and came close to discouraging my husband to act. Face it, this woman is still on the road, in her tank of a car. This event took place on a beautiful day, with clear visibility, so she has no excuses. What if the next time she runs into something, it’s somebody’s beloved pet, or worse, a child? She is at best unaware of her surroundings; at worst, criminally negligent.