I've always been a fan of the Joe Martin comic strip Mr. Boffo, which I always considered similar to the Far Side. One of my favorite things he would draw featured "People Unclear on the Concept."
I had my own experience with a person "unclear on the concept" this afternoon while visiting my hometown overnight.
My wife and kids and I came into town late this afternoon for a friend's funeral tomorrow. This visit, we're staying with my mother-in-law at her house. I parked (legally) on the street in front of the house, and unloaded everything into the house.
About fifteen minutes after my arrival, the doorbell rang. I corralled the dogs and kids and answered it. A frazzled woman that I didn't recognize stood there.
"Who does that car belong to?" she asked, pointing to my (again, legally parked) 4-Runner.
"Mine," I said.
"Well, I hit it."
"Uh oh," I said. "Is it bad?"
"Yes," she said. So, we went out to take a look. It wasn't too too bad. There was a small dent and a good amount of scraping on my back passenger door. It will need to be fixed. As it turns out, the lady lives across the street from my mother-in-law, and backed straight out of her driveway and T-Boned my car.
"I'm so frustrated," she said. "I just got it fixed from backing into a car parked where yours was two weeks ago. My insurance agent is going to be so mad at me."
Well, yeah, I would assume so. Apparently, my mother-in-law's neighbor just slams it into reverse and plays Russian Roulette with her car when backing out of her garage.
I smiled sympathetically, and said, "How would you like to handle this?"
She looked at me quizzically.
"Well," I said, "would you like for me to get an estimate and let you know how much it is going to be?"
"I don't know. You can just talk to Jeff about it."
"My insurance agent," she said. "You can just drive it up there and see what he says to do."
"Um, well," I said, trying to be nice, "I can give him a call, but I'm not just going to drive up there."
So, we stood there awkwardly for a few moments.
"Maybe, you can just give me your information," I suggested.
"Okay," she said. "I'll go write it down."
I smiled and went back inside to try to control a hyperactive 11-month-old, who was tempting fate with a heavy wooden rocking chair. Five minutes later, the lady knocked on the front door. She handed me a piece of paper with her name and address (in case I couldn't read the street number across the street), as well as the name of her insurance agent. The piece of paper didn't include the agent's phone number, the insurance company's name, or policy number.
Being that we are in the small town that we grew up in, I wasn't too worried about figuring it out. I also didn't want to create a problem for my mother-in-law with her neighbor. I took the piece of paper and thanked her.
I was about to go back inside with the baby, but she had one more thing to tell me.
"By the way," she told me sternly, "you need to move your car and park in the back of the house from now on. And tell your people to park in the back from now on, too."
Yes ma'am. I'll get right on that.