Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Is the Emotional Response to a Fender Bender more Devastating than the Damage

A colleague of mine who usually get to the office long after me in the mornings was at his desk when I got there. He planned to get in early to take care of some paperwork. He seemed flustered this morning. He is usually a calm, jovial fellow. Before I could ask him what was up, he told me he was involved in an accident in the garage with an employee of another company. The garage, I said. Yes, he said and proceeded to tell me the story. What was interesting to me about the whole thing is this.

The usually calm, pleasant conscientious person who is always confident and self-assured was twisted. Even though it was a minor fender bender, no personal injuries and minor damage to the vehicles, he was shaken. He was concerned about the effects on his license, insurance premium and his reputation. This early morning accident in the parking garage, as folks hustled for parking spaces, brought anguish and grief like a hit from an 18-wheeler. He had questions swirling around in his head about what may happen to him, who else will get involved and what it will mean for him down the road. He could not recall the last time he had an accident or any kind of a vehicular mishap.

When ones confidence is shaken they seem to grovel, get nearly incapacitated and seems to loose hope. Fortunately, we pay insurance premium, in some cases at a premium, as a security to cover or assist with the monetary costs of these potential mishaps or worst scenarios or incidents. I guess there is no cushion or buffer for the emotional response or considerations. Even with this ‘cushion’, we go into such tailspin when accidents, even minor mishaps, happen or when we lose control. My friends reaction is not about the damage alone, they were minor, but also the impact on his insurance premium, the other driver and his feeling of failure.

Will my premium increase, will I have to pay more each month, and will I get points on my licenses? Oh boy, what with the deductible, the mechanic and repair issues, the other party to the accident needs and expectations for their vehicle and the repair. What kind of a person do I seem like to others? These financial, emotional, image, personality concerns, even though no fault or blame is apportioned to him, was in his head and on his lips. Talk about taking it personally!

Hmmmmm! I think my dear kind, gentle friend would go into melt down mode if this was a more serious situation. I guess some of us would shake it off or get the finger of blame in the mix to get rid of some of the angst. He just took it all, feeling totally responsible and affected. The story is not all glum however. They came to a good decision to get the vehicles repaired and will continue to be good neighbors.

How do you see this situation? Do you think that his behavior is a response to loss of control, the damage to his vehicle or his self-image? Is the emotional reaction to an accident as devastating as the damage even in a minor accident? Or is it a personality issue?

What is your opinion? How would you react to a fender bender?

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