So I had a bit of a rough weekend in terms of driving. I had a hitch mounted cargo carrier on the back of my jeep to haul camping supplies. I guess I had a hard time judging distances, I blame the heat.
I hit two things: I ran down a fast food joint’s sign and bumped someones SUV in the parking lot. There’s a difference.
When I bumped the guy’s car, I felt really bad. There was barely any damage, a small dent in the rubber probably on its way to popping back out. I stayed out in the parking lot and waited until he came out of the store and explained what happened and apologized. He looked at the bump briefly and agreed that it was too small to care about. We went on our way.
I stopped briefly when I cut a turn too hard and clipped the fast food sign. It made an awful sound. Not a full stop, a rolling stop really. I’m pretty sure the sign was already down and I just finished the job, it was rusty and seemingly sheered off at the base. I didn’t feel bad though. As a matter of fact, I was more concerned with any damage to my jeep and wondering why they chose such a poor place for a sign. Honestly, I laughed hardily as I drove down the highway, trading jokes with my wife about the situation and my impending arrest.
Here’s what separates the two incidents:
I identified with the SUV owner, even though I’d never met him. He is a person and deserves to know that his car was bumped. I was prepared to pay for any damage caused because I wanted to do right by him.
This fast food place is a nameless and faceless corporation. Their parking lot was unkept and cared about me only enough to get me out of their drive through line.
Chain stores need to identify themselves using their people. Managers should have their pictures up and meet customers. Clerks should make a bit of small talk and use their names. It’s an easy fix really and customers will come back because they were treated like people BY people. It’s not that corporations need to increase the number of self reporting sign runner overs, they need to increase the customer return rate. Even corporations can be small town shops.
If I had met Bill the manager or even knew his name I may have let them know that I ran their sign over. I might mention to him that it was really poorly placed though.