A Moral Quandary

Last night after returning home from a Pinewood Derby event, I noticed that my rear driver side door had been dented in. This was no small job and I was quite aggravated to discover this. After wrangling with my wife on the futility of going back to investigate, we returned  to the not yet complete event.

Upon closer investigation I ascertained that the damage had not been caused by a vehicle. There would have been paint missing and the impact point would have been lower on the door panel. No, a person or other obtuse object had made this damage. I ran through a catalog of people who might have done this on purpose but could not think of anyone. My next thoughts centered on who likely would have done it on accident. I focused on one particular family who were infamous for being loud, rowdy, and rambunctious and I knew that they had been playing around in the parking lot before we had initially left.

When we arrived, I saw one of the suspect kids and asked her if she knew anything about it. She responded that she did not, and giving her the benefit of the doubt, I walked back into the building.

The activity was not yet over, so I arranged to make a general announcement of my discovery. After asking for information, doubtful that anyone saw anything, I was soon approached by several people. I was told that the father and a son of the suspect family had some sort of kerfuffle outside and a) the father threw his son into my car, or b) the son had kicked in my door in attempt to kick his dad. Either way may suspicions were confirmed, but I was at a loss that even the father was involved. Even more disturbing was the lack of integrity on his part to disclose to me what he had done.

I quickly located the perpetrator and approached him, stating that I understood that he and his son had had a 'run in with my car'. His whole demeanor seemed to change.  He was quite upset, not at me, but rather his son, for it seemed that the full weight fo the implications of their altercation came to bear.

He seemed quite insistent that he would pay for it because It became apparent to him that his insurance would not cover the outcome of a domestic dispute, yet we both knew that he would not have the cash to cover the damage. He remarked that he would have to take out a pay day advance, for he expected to have to pay at least over a grand in repairs.

Now enter the moral quandary. Justice demands that he pay restitution for the damage to my car. Mercy would say that I should forgive him his debt and foot the bill myself. But even though I have comprehensive insurance that would likely repair such a thing, I do not wish to file a claim, however, because I do not want my premium to go up.  I also don't want him to take out a payday advance loan, simply because I find such institutions to be morally reprehensible and the equivalent of economic slavery.

Now, I do think there is some moral middle ground to be had here. I think he should still pay for it. It is only just that he pay for the damage done; I am an innocent party in his domestic issues with his son.  I would, however, be willing to front the cost and have him pay me back on some predetermined terms that would be substantially less economically impacting than a loan shark. I would not charge interest, I would be satisfied with a simple return of principle.

Are my thoughts on the matter too much to ask?

Posted on May 31
Written by Wayne Hartman