While we were in a store last night, someone pulled into the parking space next to Barrie's truck and raked the driver's side, from the rear wheel, across the quarter panel to just under the gas filler cap. It wasn't a lot of damage but her truck is her baby and if I had done it, I'd have left town without a word.
We didn't know about it until we came out of the store. One of the store employees had seen it happen and as we started to get into the truck, she came over and said "The guy driving this car (pointing at the car next to us) just hit your truck then went inside that restaurant over there." I was on the passenger side at the time.
"Honey - come and look at this!" Barrie said loudly. I knew something was definitely not good. I walked around the truck and looked at the damage as Barrie threw her purse into the truck, locked the doors and asked "What did he look like and where did he go?"
"He had a purple shirt on, sunglasses and he went into that restaurant right there" the young lady said, pointing at a restaurant 3 doors down. Like a woman on a mission, Barrie started toward the restaurant with me trying to keep up.
I followed her into the restaurant readying for the fight I knew I was going to be in. I figured if the guy had hit her truck then left the scene without any notification and went into a restaurant/bar, he was probably going to deny the incident and things would get ugly.
As we entered the restaurant the maitre d asked Barrie if he could help her. We were looking in all directions and people were wondering what was going on. Barrie said "I'm looking for a man in a purple shirt with sunglasses!"
The maitre d pointed to the left side of the restaurant, around a partition and said "You mean that man?"
I steadied myself as I walked toward the end of the partition. If he wanted to cause a scene, or worse, I would be ready. My years in law enforcement had prepared me for this if it was going to happen. I stepped around the partition (Barrie was already there and walking toward him at a brisk pace) and saw my possible opponent...
The man was at least 65 years old, small, somewhat crippled, with thick glasses. I have to admit I was a little relieved because I knew he probably wasn't going to give me much of a fight. Barrie walked up to him and got right in his face and said "You hit my truck in the parking lot!" The man replied "I didn't know I hit anything, his words somewhat slurred. She then said a couple of things that I didn't hear but I think I'm glad I didn't. "Call the police, Baby" Barrie said as we walked toward the vehicles. To the man she said "You're not going anywhere until the police come."
The man followed us out to the parking lot, walking in a manner that suggested he'd probably had a few too many but being very cooperative. He looked at Barrie's truck and said again "I didn't know I hit it." Barrie, being really upset since her baby was damaged, responded "How could you not know you hit my truck? How could you hit something and do all that damage and not know it?!" The man mumbled something then walked around to the driver's side of his car, opened the door and sat on the seat. Our friend Jen, who was with us, echoed Barrie’s words to me. “How can he hit something like that and not know it?”
I was already on the phone to the police as I watched him, more than ready to jump on him if he tried to drive away. He merely sat there with his phone in one hand, digging in the glove compartment for his paperwork. I had called 911, but apologized to the dispatcher for using that number since it wasn't really an emergency. (She didn't know just how close the man had come to losing his life if Barrie had put her hands on him.) The dispatcher asked if anyone was hurt and I said no but also said I believe the man had been drinking, based on his movements, his slurred speech and his staggered gait. She asked where I was and I told her "In the plaza behind and just south of the mall." Her response was "Sir, that narrows it down to about 20 plazas." I said "It's behind the cinema and we're in front of the Rue 21 store." Apparently she was familiar with this store because she said "You're in front of Rue 21? OK, I've sent out the call and an officer should be arriving shortly. Is the man trying to leave at all?"
"No. He's just sitting in his car and on the phone." I wasn't going to tell her that if he tried to leave we might need an ambulance as well. She also said we should turn on Barrie's emergency flashers so the officer could locate the truck more easily. That done, we just stood there waiting for the police to arrive.
One of the waiters came out of the restaurant and asked what was going on. He said the man was his uncle and he was concerned about him. He looked at the damage to Barrie’s truck and mumbled something, then went around to check on his "uncle". (As we watched them and talked more to the waiter we got the idea the old man wasn't his "uncle" after all.)
After about 10 minutes of waiting, and Barrie getting more angry and anxious, someone else arrived first. I can’t tell you how relieved we were to observe the arrival of Lexington's version of "Paul Blart: Mall Cop". He pulled up in his truck marked "Maintenance" and asked if there was a problem. Being the ever observant and dedicated security officer he was, he had observed the emergency flashers and immediately responded. We informed him what had happened and that the real police were on the way, which I think hurt his feelings. He didn't really say much about the vehicles but told Barrie he had determined there was no real emergency and she needed to turn her flashers off because they were causing a commotion in his parking lot. She let him know the police dispatcher had instructed her to turn the flashers on and she would be leaving them on until they arrived. I kept quiet but knew he obviously didn't understand who he was dealing with.
He noticed Barrie’s identification credential and asked where she worked. She told him she worked at the Federal prison in Lexington. He decided to inform her that he had retired from the state prison before getting his job in mall security, a fact that didn’t really impress anyone. Barrie and Jen are both Feds and I’m a retired Fed so his status as a retired statee wasn’t that impressive. And little did he know that if he pushed her too far, she would give him an ass whipping just as easily as she would the old man.
After about 20 minutes of waiting the waiter from the restaurant said “I hope you guys didn’t didn’t have any plans.” He was trying to be friendly, I think, hoping we’d go easy on his “uncle.” I told him it was nothing important, we were just going to eat dinner. He said “I can bring you something from the restaurant, if you want.” I told him we’d let him know. A few minutes later he quietly told Jen “He has some seeing difficulties and some mental issues but this is the first time I’ve ever known him to hit anyone.”
Finally we saw a police car pull into the parking lot - and go the other way. Apparently the flashers didn’t work after all. He turned around and came toward us and I stepped out into the driving lane to get his attention. As he pulled up a second cop pulled in behind him. They both got out, walked over and asked if everyone was OK. We informed them that everyone was fine and showed them the damage to Barrie’s truck. At that time a third cop pulled up and parked. They got Barrie’s license, registration and proof of insurance, then went around to speak to the old man. The first cop asked him how long he’d been in the restaurant and he said “Only for a few minutes.” A forth cop drove up, looked over and apparently decided three officers was enough to handle this situation, and drove away. I realize they thought they may have to deal with an intoxicated driver but I thought four cops for this one old man was a little much. Must have been a slow evening. Or maybe they, too, wanted to prevent an ass whipping.
The first officer on the scene talked to the man for a few more seconds, from a distance of about three feet, then came back over and said “I don’t believe he’s been drinking. I think it’s just his disability.” He hadn’t been close enough to smell anything and hadn’t asked if he’d been drinking, nor done anything that, in my opinion, would have allowed him to make that determination. I think the cop felt sorry for the old man, who had gotten a cane out of his car and was now leaning on it. Great prop and good thinking, I have to admit. Wish we'd thought of it.
The various officers looked at Barrie’s truck, then at the old man’s car and assessed the damage. While they were doing that the old man received a call on his cell phone. He answered, then put a folder in front of his mouth to prevent us from hearing (which didn’t work) and said “I hit someone’s car in the parking lot. I’ll have to call you back.” The cop that arrived last wrote everything up and came back over, returning both drivers’ paperwork and giving them each a piece of paper with the case number on it. The officer informed Barrie to call her insurance company and give them the information and they would handle everything. That was it. It was over. The ending was a bit anti-climactic. I think Barrie was a little disappointed that the old man didn’t get busted for DUI, or at least a good ass whipping, but it was over. We all got back in the truck and headed to a restaurant for our dinner.
Needless to say, Barrie wasn’t in the best of moods. We got to the restaurant and, of all things, one of the waiters looked a lot like the old man. Barrie’s only comment was “He better not be our waiter. That’s all I’ve got to say.” Fortunately for him, he wasn’t.
We both started a diet on Monday. Last night wasn’t a good night for that. Barrie said “I was going to have a salad but I’m mad.” The waiter came by to get our drink orders and Barrie said “I’ll have a Bud light, the coldest one you have!” The rest of us ordered cokes and water and let her calm down. She ordered her favorite chicken instead of salad but it was OK. She needed comfort food.
By the time we had finished dinner she had calmed down somewhat and was able to laugh a little at the events, even though she was still fairly angry about her truck being damaged. When we got home she posted a couple of things about it on Facebook, letting everyone know just how she felt about that old man, blind people driving and irresponsible drivers altogether. We ended up making jokes about it and she went to sleep feeling a little better.
We called the insurance company this morning and they said they would handle the entire thing for us but we’d have to pay the deductable and they’d “try to get it back from his insurance, but it’s a long process and could take months.” Otherwise, she said we could get the police report ourselves and call his insurance company and let them handle it. You can guess which we chose.
We took the truck to her dealer to for an estimate. It was $1480.00. Of course, the truck is only a year old and she wants everything replaced like new. And that’s what we’ll get.
So that was our evening. That old man will never know how close he came to experiencing grievous bodily harm. As angry as she was, Barrie would have beaten the old man down, then beaten the “nephew” as well if he tried to interfere. This morning, we’re glad nothing like that happened. (Although I think she might have had a salad and a glass of water if she’d gotten to do that.) This morning a man is still alive thanks to several things working in harmony. Barrie does have the ability to control her temper. I was there to prevent a mishap if she lost it. And the old man himself, while he did hit her truck, was too pathetic in appearance to allow us to stay angry at him personally. I’m just glad it wasn’t me who damaged her truck. I’d still be on the run….