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Jun 23, 2020 239 0 Margaret Ann Stimatz
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Don’t Let a Knucklehead Skier Derail You

Suppose a street skier approaches head-on while you are driving up a lane; you veer close to a parked car and lo! You hear the sound of scraping…what would you do?

Sometimes, perpetual winter devours springtime in my state. That year, as late as mid-March, continuing snowfalls were forcing ploughs to dump the excess in the street parking areas. This left parked vehicles encroaching deeply into the narrowed road space, however closely they snuggled to the buried curbs. And it funnelled two-way traffic on my street into a miserable, single lane.

As I inched precariously up that lane, it happened. An apparition loomed before me. Pumping his poles and grinning euphorically, a street-skier was accelerating toward me headon. Something had to give, and now. I veered my sedan close to a parked black SUV. Too close. At the nerve-rending screech as the cars scraped against each other, I cringed. On my left, the skier sailed past obliviously, face agleam with unbroken bliss. When a hasty scan around me revealed no witnesses, I drove off. Yes, I bolted from the scene.

No witnesses in sight—I got away! Relief mixed with fury at that jerk. Endangering all in his path…What an idiot…numbskull…total knucklehead. Look what he “made” me do—turned me into a hit and run driver. In the midst of my name-calling and blaming, a tinge of guilt bubbled up. My conscience was trying its best, nudging me to face another part of the story—my part. Was not I the one who had hit the SUV? Was not I the one who had fled the scene? But I ignored all that. Blaming and name-calling were more enjoyable.

Pricking of the Conscience

However, day after day, my misery grew. Because of my home’s proximity, I had to drive right past that wretched scene daily, sometimes several times. Past that ominous, black SUV, parked always in the same spot. The sight of it haunted me, until one day, I suddenly felt compelled to eyeball the thing close-up. With faked nonchalance, I strolled past slowly. My heart sank. Etched into the black paint along the entire length of the driver’s side was a thin white line. A scratch carved, undoubtedly, by the passenger-side mirror of my white sedan.

My mind went into a tail-spin. That’s nothing…A dab of paint will touch it up fine…Body work costs a ton…It will drain me…That owner has money, driving that rig…I am not shelling out a cent to fix that sucker…

Then, my thoughts shifted. What if the driver is young, someone who had borrowed that SUV?…A single parent? Paid minimum wage at the day care on that corner? Someone with no means to cover this damage, with no answers for the angry owner?

For some reason, this scenario hooked me. Imaginary though it was, this picture of a struggling, suffering young adult touched my heart. It also broadened my perspective. For the first time since the accident, I was actually considering someone besides myself. I was concerned that my action could be hurting someone else and wondered how I could make amends.

Attack from Sleep Invaders

Still, I was stuck, obsessed and stewing. I convinced myself that the victim—once he knew I was the guilty party—would try to rip me off with exaggerated damage estimates; or show up at my front door to threaten me. I was a wreck. Growing anxieties and fears invaded my sleep at night. Finally, I knew what I had to do. I had to go to Confession.

I poured out everything. Father was very kind but firm. When I left the Confessional, I was still afraid and anxious, but I was no longer stuck. At last I was determined to take action.

I jotted this note, including my contact information: I’m the driver who left the white scrape on your door a couple of weeks ago. To contact me about repairs, please call. But when I went to place it on the SUV’s windshield, my life did another extraordinary flip: no SUV. That’s right. For the first time in over three weeks, the black SUV was not in its customary spot. It was nowhere to be seen later that day, the next, or the day following. To date, never once since I wrote that note, have I laid eyes on it again.

What can I say? I think God gave me a huge break! Even though I ignored my conscience for a long time and did things my way, once I finally made my Confession, the Lord blessed me with the first peace of mind I had had in weeks. And, He gave me courage and resolve to do what I needed to do. I guess God in His mercy was satisfied with my note. He knew I intended to make things right. In any case, though I did not deserve it, He allowed that SUV to literally vanish from my life without a trace!

We all get derailed at times by the ‘nitwit skiers’ of this world and we all accidentally cause injuries when we do not mean to. However, I do not have to make things worse. The next time a ‘street-skier’ comes barrelling at me, or the next time I have an accident, I do not need to exacerbate matters by running away. I will be the knucklehead if I fail to check in with God, talk to Him about what is going on, and allow Him to be part of the resolution. I will be the numbskull if I forget that God’s remedies are always so much better than my own.

Margaret Ann Stimatz

© was brought back to her Catholic faith in the flood of heavenly graces released at the death of Pope John Paul II. She has published articles in “Family Digest,” “The Word Among Us” and two Guidepost collections. Most recently, she co-authored “Mercy for Little Souls,” a booklet of inspirational reflections on the suffering and self gift of a young priest, Father Stuart Long. Stimatz is a licensed therapist working with children who are emotionally distressed, as well as their families.

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