I parallel parked the car and was walking across the street to my daughter’s daycare when a man came out the house I was parking in front of and started yelling at me. Something in Slavic. He was pointing at the car in front of my car, at the rear bumper. In thick English, he shouted “You hit car! What do we do about this?!”
I told him we didn’t have to do anything about this, since I didn’t actually hit his car (true). Also, I told him I didn’t like the accusation. I turned back, to cross the street to the daycare with him shouting after me, “You come back here. Tell me, yes? How we fix?” I was just on time to pick up my daughter—just—and certainly didn’t have extra time to stand around arguing with this shakedown.
Of course, when I returned, he was still out there, pacing between our cars. Again, he was pointing to a small smudge on the back bumper. “How are we were going to fix? You fix. You tell me how?! Or, I call police.”
If anyone threatens to call the police it’s best to just call the police first. Especially since, if I had just left, he would likely have called it a hit-and-run, or some nonsense.
Waiting for the police, my daughter says she has to use the bathroom, immediately. I told her she was going to have to wait. But she insisted, if she waited any longer she was going to just go. So we hurried back to her daycare and while she ran to the bathroom, I did a lousy job explaining to the staff there why I’d been shouting at the Russian man outside and that the police were on their way. My explanation didn’t seem to put anyone at ease. Instead, they all seemed on high alert, and seemed grateful to see me leave again.
After much standing around, listening to this guy tell me we needed to fix this, before the police arrived, finally, the police arrived. The cop, thumbs in his vest, listened to our stories separately. He was remarkably patient, having been called out for what was quickly shaking out to be a non-issue. The Russian demanded he do something, but the police officer just shrugged. He pointed out the lack of a corresponding smudge on the bumper of my car (Although, to be fair, my whole car is a smudge.) His words: “With a little elbow grease, you could buff that smudge, right out.”
The cop took me aside, “Look,” he said. “It sounds like the guy just wants you to apologize.”
“Okay.” I said. “For what?”
The Russian interrupted, “For hitting car! You apologize.”
I asked the officer, “Are we good here?” He nodded and I got in my car and, fifty minutes after I’d arrived to pick up my daughter from daycare, left for home. As I drove away, the Russian was arguing with the police officer. He scowled at me as I drove away (I gave him the finger).
This won’t be the last time we see each other. Not by a long shot. Since he lives across the street from Lillian’s daycare, we will likely see each other every time I drop her off, and every time I pick her up.
Maybe this is why I could never live in a small town.