We try to steer clear of the mal'occhio (the "evil eye" that causes bad things to happen). But the same week of our little bumper mishap, a close friend told us about his own "contretemps." That's a fancy French word for problems that can arise when one is entering a parking lot at the same time when someone is exiting, but when one of you has the sun in his eyes.
One might say to oneself, as he did, "All I can really see right now is "niente," but what are the chances that anyone would approach during the second it will take me to cross this threshold?
Well, because our local Lidl grocery store is very popular at that hour, a quasi-invisible someone could indeed be close enough for anyone entering the lot to scrape two of her car doors.
There was a witless eye-witness to this event. To clarify--the door-scraper's wife who had been following behind in another car and also had the sun in her eyes did not yet realize that her husband of 47 years was a door-scraper. All she saw was a red-headed lady jump out and begin speaking animatedly with her sociable, door-scraper husband. She naively thought, "Wow! He's just run into our beloved architect, Gabriella, whom neither had seen in far too long.
Purtroppo--unfortunately--while it's true that this Lidl is THE place to bump into friends, that nice lady was not Gabriella. The wife figured that out when she saw the face of her husband who then had the distinct look of a guilty door-scraper.
She parked her own car carefully and went over to see what was unfolding. After some phone negotiations between the nice lady and her doctor husband who was busy repairing the bodies of his patients, many documents were exchanged, photos taken, and it was determined that there would be a rendez-vous at that very spot the next day. The nice lady proposed that they all go together in her vehicle to her family's honest auto body shop to find out the cost of the damage. This sounded reasonable.
In the meantime, the door-scraper couple showed photos of the scraped car to Luca, their own honest auto-body expert. It took him about five seconds to write back that the repair would cost 400-500 euros. Ouch! Or as they say around here, "porca miseria!"
That was hard to swallow, but at least they had an idea of what to expect: if the nice lady's honest repairer said something wildly different, the door-scraper couple planned to humbly suggest they go to Luca's for a second opinion.
They should, however, have had faith that the nice lady would have an equally nice, honest auto-body guy, and this was indeed the case. When he said "450 euros" and showed them why, they quickly paid, after which the three of them left together in the lady's soon-to-be-NEARLY good-as-new car. That "nearly" qualification had to be added because the nice lady's son had previously inflicted a $400 "oops!" on the car's other side. But the parents had already decided to live with that one. (It might've been more convenient for them had the door-scraper managed to scrape that other wounded door, but it's hard to plan these things.)
The truly Italian part of this story is that even under these unpropitious circumstances, a new friendship was born. The nice lady repeatedly lamented that she and they had had to meet in this way. She invited them to come over right then for coffee. And after she whipped out her IPhone to show them photos of her very original artistic creations, they realized that the coffee offer was just a pretext. She confessed that she really wanted to give them an "omaggio"--a gift!--for having scraped her car!
Only in Italy!
THIS STORY HAS A CODA
The guilty door-scraper couple who is NOT us is going for a swim that they hope will function as a ritual cleansing!
(As the door-scraper himself said to his wife, "To tell that story in the third-person isn't going to fool anyone.")
Well, she tried.