Introduction: Yes, I’ve been gone for a long time. I’ve been busy starting a new business so some things had to go on the back burner, like The Coffee Chronicles. It actually feels good to be writing a column again. I’ll be trying to do more of it but we’ll see. There is still a lot to be done for the business. But anyway…

My faith in humanity has been restored. I found my comfort zone again in being the “nice guy.”

To all those who are groaning and facepalming, piss off. And I mean that in the nicest way possible. Love you!

I was a nice guy a couple weeks ago and was nervous as hell about it. I did what I tell people not to do.

As you may have seen, my car was hit while parked. I came out of Starbucks and this young lady was shaking and almost in tears. She was driving a brand new car and misjudged the turn radius pulling into the space next to me.

First, the smartass surged to the front. I thought to myself: I put 82,000 miles on my car through 48 states and two countries and I get hit in Springfield where I grew up. Okay.

Then, a battle ensued.

This all happened very quickly so you have to try and keep up here.

The nice guy and the realist were duking it out. I know what I have to do. Call the cops. Always call the cops. You have to. Even for a small fender bender. You need the police report for even a minor thing because nobody ever does the right thing.

The nice guy suckered punch the realist and turned to the young woman who was so obviously distraught. Not sure if I was allowed to in today’s world (which bothers me but is another story), I hugged her.

“Calm down. No harm, no foul. It’s okay. That’s why they call them accidents. It happens. It’s not bad. Really, just calm down.”

The realist started to get back up and the nice guy kicked him in the face.

She calmed down and gave me all of her information, explaining it was a brand new car she had bought herself and had a long drive back to school. I took pictures, explained what I should do, but wasn’t, and what she should do if ever in this situation, but I just wanted her to calm down.

I made her promise me she would order coffee and sit and relax for at least 15 minutes before continuing her drive. The last thing I wanted, I told her, was for her to start a long drive in this condition or worse could happen.

It wasn’t bad and I kind of had an idea of what would happen. I had a feeling the cost would be less than her deductible or close enough so I let her go into Starbucks with another promise that she wouldn’t drive until she was calm.

The realist started to whine again so the nice guy kicked him in the face and I went on my way.

Eh, I was nervous. Being a nice guy has caused me a lot of problems over the decades. It’s cost my a lot of time and money.

I finally went to my body shop the other day, Jerry Grey’s in Havertown. I’ve been using them for decades. It went like I thought. Under $1,000, including the cost of the rental I’d need for a few days. They spoke to the realist: don’t worry about the bill but get the rental money up front if she decides to follow their advice and not go through the insurance company. They would take care of the bill no matter how it went, but the rental, that I would need for 2 to 3 days, would have to come out of my pocket.

I could have been not so nice. Chris, Jerry’s son, pointed out different things that may or may not have been caused by the accident. If it was going through insurance? There was some light scratching farther forward that I knew could just be buffed out and some scratches higher up that I knew had been done by Dani, my dog. I completely ignored the scratches along the door frame as I had no idea where they might have come from, but I knew a good cleaning and buffing would get it back to normal.

No, I said, be nice if she plays nice. Just the simplest thing you have to do to get it back to where it was, a 2018 with 92,000 miles on it. Chris pointed out the dented bumper that could be popped out with a hair dryer and mallet in five minutes and the hit that took off paint above it that definitely was from the accident and needed to be replaced.

Subaru parts are cheap, he explained. He used the front hood as an example, something he sees often. If it was a Kia or a Hyundai, the cost to replace is $1500 to $2200. For a Subaru, it’s $800.

I wrote to the young woman and explained everything, asking how much her deductible was. She called me back later.

We had a nice conversation. Her deductible was $1,000 so she’d rather not go through insurance. I explained about the car rental.

She instantly Venmoed me more than I needed for the rental and said she would pay the balance after I got the receipts for the rental and work.

Then, we continued to chat.

Her drive back to school was a lot further than I thought. I was thinking Penn or another local school. She had been on her way up to Massachusetts. If I had known that, I would have insisted on 30 minutes.

It just all made me feel good. I’ve been taken advantage of by, well, everybody. Friends and family continually remind me of that. But there is still some wiggle room between being a realist and a nice guy.

Yes, I’ll be taken advantage of in the future. It’s not an “if,” but a “when.” I still believe the wins, though, far outweigh the losses.

Afterword: if you see some guy on the ground in the Starbucks parking lot, and he looks like me, help him up if he’s not whining. If he is whining, kick him in the head.

Aye, I’m Philly.