Mirror, Mirror on the Ground

Saturday, October 18, 2014


The day began like most other days, with my Shih-Tzu licking himself and making obnoxious slurping noises. I swear, if this dog were human he would be one of those people that takes hour long showers. It’s also 5:15AM, but who’s looking at the clock? I get some coffee brewing, because when my wife wakes up she should be able to enjoy a hot cup of coffee. There’s no reason to break that tradition now.

It’s my day to drive the daughter to school, and surprise, she just remembered that she has a poetry project due today. In our most polite parenting voice, we urge her to write a poem of some kind - because a rough draft poem is better that an incomplete poem. With backpack and lunch in hand, we’re off to the car. It’s 7:40AM, but it’s also Friday, so there’s hope in the world.

My car is nearing the exit of our gated community (OK, it’s an apartment complex, but there is a gate). There are gardeners working feverishly to plant new ground cover and re-seed for winter. The entrance gate is closed. The exit gate is open. I proceed to drive out slowly, taking care to avoid spooking the greens-keepers. The gate, in what is most certainly a rebellious move, begins to close. It totally ignores the car sensor - there is supposed to be a car sensor, right? We hear a loud bang followed by a snapping sound. Then realizing that it may have made a mistake, the gate re-opens.

As I step out of the car, I see that my passenger side rear view mirror is on the ground. One of the gardeners picks it up and hands it to me. I thank him, because I’m polite, but don’t really know if that was the appropriate response in this situation. My poetry challenged daughter says that she thought a giant bird had hit our car, and that her ear hurts from the noise. On the drive to school, while my daughter is taking selfies of herself, I wonder how much this gate incident is going to cost me. The $1,000.00 figure keeps popping in my mind because it’s a nice round number and, like a trip to Costco, car repairs always costs more than you think they will.

The property management staff are very nice. But the way that they calmly tell me that they are not responsible for any damage, indicates that similar incidents may have happened here before - I’m guessing. They take an incident report and ask me to feel free to email them some pictures to attach to the file. This was not the scenario that I was expecting, so I leave the office slightly deflated and mirror-less.

Cut to: exterior - repair shop - day. All of the credit card stickers on the door do little lower the repair estimates floating around in my mind. I ask for the cash option, AAA discount, whatever, and fill out the necessary paperwork. As luck would have it, the side door buffs out rather nicely and doesn’t require any bodywork. The mirror, on the other hand, can’t be resuscitated and must be replaced. The bottom line is that it is going to cost me about $305.00 - a bargain compared to my original mental estimate.

We have options as consumers and residents. I could do some independent testing to verify that there is a working sensor beneath the exit. I could press the issue and go to small claims court. I will probably do neither of these, because in light of the damage, this is not the battle that I want to expend my energy.  I would still like to believe that we have a realistic expectation that automatic gated entries and exits should remain open when a car is within their reach. But, really, I just want my mirror back.

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