On my day off a couple of weeks ago, my car got rear-ended by a pick-up truck at the intersection at Tabuan Jaya. I was the first car, stopping because traffic was still heading my way when I got there. By the time the driver behind me pulled up, traffic cleared. She kept going, and I was still there. It was a good thing the traffic did clear, because her pick-up pushed me into the main road.

This was the second time this scenario happened. The first time it happened, I had a lot more things on my dashboard and the entire collection leaped into my face. I didn’t even know what just happened. This time round, I only had two things in the open and both were behind the gear box. My Starbucks tumbler jumped into the passenger leg space, and my phone dived into the garbage bag.

I just sat there processing all this and the lady came to check if I was okay because I was taking too long to get out of the car.

We both got out the survey the damage and quickly found out that we didn’t share a common language. Perhaps just enough to get by. But we were both calm. Nobody lost their temper, or raised their voices, pointed fingers. There was no drama throughout the whole thing.

“What happened?” I asked.

“I thought you were gone,” she said, still speaking Mandarin.

“That’s a common enough mistake,” I said. “Now what?”

“We go to your mechanic.”

I tried describing where my mechanic is but the language barrier wasn’t the only problem. She only recently moved here from Sibu. I decided to call my mechanic and let him give her directions.

She asked if it’s okay if she went and pick up her son from tuition first.

“Go on,” I said. “I trust you to meet me at the workshop.”

Not only did she meet me at the workshop, she got there before I did.

My mechanic assessed the damage and told the lady that he can only get an accurate quote by the next day. She was very attentive and asked all sorts of questions. I could only follow half of it, but I can tell she is no pushover. Neither was she trying to shirk responsibility or shuffle blame.

They will have to replace the bumper, the reflective strip, license plate, straighten out the dent and re-spray it. It will be in the ballpark figure of RM1,000. I know I wasn’t paying, but I cringed anyway.

Another mechanic helped me patch up the license plate so it won’t fall off before I delivered the car the next day. He was laughing that I had a roll of masking tape in the car. I told him I was cat-sitting a couple of months before.

Before I left, I tried my best to tell the lady that I’m sorry that this had to happen to the both of us.

“I’m the one who should be sorry. I hit you,” she said.

My mum was full of concern that the lady would simply vanish, leaving me with the bill. To tell the truth, I wasn’t the least bit concerned until then. Sometimes you just want to have a bit of faith that people will do the right thing. I spoke to the lady and had a good feeling that she will honour her word. My mechanic also said the same thing when I dropped the car off.

Since she and her family were new in town, they haven’t found a mechanic and was letting mine fix her car after my car was done.

I was car-less for four days.

For a few days after I got my car back, I was bracing for the mechanic to call me and say that she never turned up.

A few days ago, he called. When I picked up, there was a pause on the other end.

“Oh! Sorry, sorry! Wrong number!” he said and hung up.

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