On Tuesday morning, December 1, 2015, I backed into a mailbox with my van. I was in my friend’s neighborhood, dropping off my 8-year old like I do every weekday morning before school. I’m not proud of it. I was distracted and not paying attention (like I should have been).
This was a first-time occurrence for me. I had never done this before. What should I do? How do I handle it?
I knocked on my friend’s door and told her what happened. Should I call the police and report this, I asked her. Will I receive a ticket or citation?
She and I looked at the damage. It was minor. More damage was done to my left taillight than to the mailbox. Thank goodness I hadn’t touched the bricks surrounding the mailbox.
My friend suggested I knock on the door to explain what happened and leave a note with my information. So I did.
No one was home at the time, 7:15 a.m. I could hear a big dog barking – not welcoming me. Perhaps the canine knew what I had done.
I left a poorly handwritten note on the back of my Publix grocery store list (it was all I could find in my messy van) explaining my accident and my sincerity. I placed my business card in the note and suggested the mailbox owner call me so I could pay for damages or replace the mailbox.
Throughout that morning, I was little on edge. My shoulders became tense. I was expecting an angry call any minute that day. But my phone never rang.
The next day I left another note for the neighbor. This time I left it inside the mailbox on a normal sheet of paper. Again I apologized and said I’d pay for a replacement. I left my phone number and email address.
That afternoon I did hear indirectly from the victim, a kind lady named Yvonne who surprised me with a text and also this email (pictured):
The message said this (below):
My name is Yvonne and I did get your note about hitting the mailbox. I want you to rest your mind about it and you do not need to replace it. It was on its last leg way before you tapped it. Accidents happen so please do not worry anymore about it.
I cannot tell you how happy and shocked I was to receive such a heartfelt note after I hit someone’s mailbox. For once I felt like good karma had come to me.
I had done damage to someone’s property. But instead of paying for it, I received a thank you from that person. Then I was given a compliment on my writing that the owner wants to share with a classroom of young students. How does this happen?!?!
Maybe Yvonne was in the holiday spirit? Or perhaps she just really knew I felt terrible about what I had done?
I never expected to receive a thank you and a compliment after I made a mistake like I did though…
This was so ironic to hear such thoughtful words from a fifth grade teacher, from someone who teaches on the two subjects I’m most passionate about: reading and writing. My mother is a retired 5th grade teacher too. I grew up hearing stories of what it was like to teach kids at that age.
Yvonne, thank you! My friend said perhaps I was meant to hit your mailbox?! I think that’s a bit of a stretch… But I think somehow we both found some traits we needed in the other person–courage, passion, gratitude and holiday spirit, even though we are strangers…even though we’ve never met before… So thanks to you, for your understanding, for your thoughtful words and for letting me feel better about what I did!
I share this story with others to bring forth a bit of holiday cheer. Sometimes our mistakes can actually help others and even ourselves.
But do be careful driving and backing out! 🙂 Happy Holidays, friends!