I'm not normally a hugger.
A handshake, if you must, but better a quick wave and a "hi."
So it was with quite a bit of surprise that I found myself in the middle of an intersection over in Missouri, giving a hug to a young girl who had just run into my car.
I was in DeSoto, Mo., going to see some friends. My wife and I were in our car, waiting to turn left when we felt a thump from behind.
I swore and got out of the car to check the damage, vision of hours ahead spent filling out accident reports and exchanging insurance information.
A young girl got out of her car, now a foot or so behind mine, and immediately began apologizing.
"I am so sorry," she kept saying, trembling.
I asked her if she was all right. She said she was, fighting to hold back tears. She couldn't have been much more than 16, although I am a lousy judge of age.
I took a quick look at my car. No damage I could see. I looked at her car and it looked pretty good, too.
Then I said something fatherlike such as "Oh, sweetie, you have to be more careful."
She gave me a hug.
So I awkwardly told her to be sure and pay attention and to take care of herself.
I mean, this wasn't my first time at the circus. I have been hit many times before and I have been responsible for hitting other people as well.
After a woman hit me at McDonald's, I assured her there was no damage and asked her to try to relax and have a good day.
The man who backed up 15 feet or so to run into my car in Fairview Heights also didn't manage to do any damage.
It's not like I drive expensive cars or really care that much what they look like. I am much more worried about how people are than how damaged my car might be.
A lot of times, when I'm waiting to make a turn, I look in the rearview mirror and wonder if someone is going to come roaring up and hit me.
This time it never occurred to me. Luckily it was just a tap.
After the hug, I got back in the car and made my left turn.
"No damage, huh?" my wife said.
"No," I said. "But I believe that's the only time I've ever hugged someone who rear-ended me."
I couldn't help but think that the drivers behind us must have wondered why that old guy was hugging that young girl in the middle of the highway.
"You're weird," my wife said, and not for the first time either.
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