What happened, you ask? The Wal-mart parking lot, that's what--the most dangerous place in Branson. I've pretty much seen it all--a lady and her grocery cart knocked over by a passing car, my children and I nearly run over by impatient drivers, my van nearly backed into many times. I'm telling you, that place is a close call waiting to happen.
So, I'm in a hurry because I have three hours to shop, get stuff home, finish grading some papers and go pick up my kids. I'm returning a cart, but I'm slipping it through two vehicles, one of which isn't lucky enough to remain untouched. The grocery cart decided to leave a two-inch kiss across a cherry-red truck. A surface scratch--something few people, if any, would notice unless they were looking for it. But, I wasn't being careful; it shouldn't have been there in the first place.
I wrestled with leaving the truck without a note; after all, it's not like I dented the side of someone's door. But, after my pastor's message Sunday morning, I knew I had to leave a note. Overboard to some, but after all, isn't that what integrity is about? Character requires us to be honest even when it hurts. It says "be different and do the right thing"--show that others matter more than your comfort...or wallet.
As I'm starting my note, a middle-aged lady and her friend come out and saddle up to the truck.
I approach her, "Is this your vehicle, ma'am? I wanted to let you know that I put a small scratch in the back by the bumper."
She lets out a little 'oh no' before glancing at the scrape while her friend responds to me, "Oh, that's nothing."
"Well, I just wanted to do the right thing and let you know." I finish writing down my information.
She takes it and says, "Well, this is my husband's truck, so I don't know what he'll do." Never a good sign when a couple doesn't take dual ownership of a vehicle. Apparently it's his baby and she's not going to claim responsibility one way or the other.
She proceeds, "We're actually from Arizona [which I already knew by their plates], and we have a second home here." Great. More good news.
I want to plead with her that we live on a limited budget; that I can't afford to spend money on cosmetic make-up for a truck. I want to tell her that I'll donate money to her favorite charity. I want to beg for mercy. But, I'm relatively self-respecting and don't make a habit of groveling. Instead, I re-iterate my desire to do the right thing, and pray that the gold cross around her neck prompts her to show grace.
I don't know what the outcome will be, but I know I did what I was supposed to--even if it costs me. In the mean time, I'll be a little more careful with grocery carts and pray I don't see an Arizona area code on my phone.