Tuesday, September 13, 2005


The Original Story

Hello, everyone. If you are new to this story, please read the original text of my first e-mail to my friends, printed here in [nearly] its entirety.

From : Michael

Sent : Tuesday, September 13, 2005 2:15 PM

Subject : A Funny Story

Hi, everyone.  Mike here.  I have a story for you.

Recently, my fiancee rear-ended a guy in a Saab, as she was traveling at about 0.4 MPH.  Despite the fact that there was no visible damage at all to his car, the guy insisted on having a police officer come over to assess the damage.  (The police officer was dealing with a far more severe 4-car accident down the block at the time.)  The police officer said, "I don't really see anything here," but the Saab guy insisted on an accident report, and told my fiancee there might be "structural damage," so he should go get his car looked at.

Three days later, Saab guy called us and reported damages in the amount of $836.  The plastic cover on his bumper, apparently, has a "crease," which necessitated the complete removal of the bumper, and the purchase, painting, and installation of a new one.  For $836.  When I asked him to send me a digital photo of the damage, he announced that "it really isn't the kind of thing that shows up in a photograph."

Needless to say, I insisted on inspecting the car myself, which I did this morning.  I kid you not, you have to be within 6 inches of the bumper to see the "crease," which even at that point looked more like a very faint shadow.  Even when rubbing my finger over it, I could barely detect it.

Among the comments the Saab guy made to me were:

"Look, I could live with it, but I just don't want to."


"It wasn't like that before, and I'm sorry, but I just don't want to have to live with it."

It might not surprise you to find out that the man is a lawyer.

Anyway.  Long story short: I told him I thought this was very silly.  I told him that it is things like this that make insurance rates so high, which screws people.  ("I don't care about insurance rates.  That's not my problem," said the guy, to which I responded, "You should care.  You're a resident of this city, and it's a huge problem."  I was very polite.)

And then I offered a compromise.  Why don't I, said I, donate $836 to the Red Cross -- in his name -- to help the victims of Katrina?  That way, some good comes out of this pettiness.  It took about twenty minutes of reiterating that plan, but Saab guy said he would "think about it."

I don't know if he is ultimately going to agree, but regardless, this whole thing gave me an idea.  When I told the story to some friends, they agreed to make their own donations in his name.  A hundred bucks, twenty, fifty...it has added up, and in the hour since I saw the car, donations are up to $1,936.

So, I am now writing to ask you for help.  I'm sure many of you have already donated, and I expect nothing from anyone.  But if you haven't donated yet, or you have, and want to do more, or you just want to see Saab guy shamed, I ask you to pledge to the Saab Guy Katrina Fund.

Just e-mail me and tell me how much you would contribute.  (Don't make the donation yet -- I want a running total BEFORE he agrees or doesn't, so he knows exactly what he would be turning down for his new Saab bumper cover.)  Don't pledge anything you wouldn't give anyway -- a dollar, five, ten, fifty, whatever.  I think if we all pitch in just a little something, we could make this guy confront his pettiness, and could also help out in a big way.

After all the pledges are in, if he agrees, I will alert everybody who wants to donate, and you can all make the pledges in his name and get your own write-offs, and everything.  If he says no, I will alert you to that as well, and you can either pledge the money in your own names, or in the name of someone who deserves to be honored, or in the name of, like, "Saab Guy is a Jerk."

There you go.  Again, totally no pressure, but if you want to contribute, please let me know ASAP.  I'll keep you updated.

Best wishes,


(EDIT: a few little changes, for privacy.)

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