Putting fear in the hearts of Capitol Hill’s bravest drivers who park curbside are motorists who parallel park their abused automobiles by hitting bumpers of other cars parked in front of and behind them.
One would think that the hit-and-park drivers would be easy to find once a better maintained car is damaged, since the culprit’s car would leave paint marks matching their vehicle’s color. Not true when some bumpers on Capitol Hill are so badly abused there’s barely any paint left on them. Walk up and down any Capitol Hill street near Seattle Central College and find some bumpers wired in place by coat hangars or duct tape. Most cars parked along the street in zone 21 have hundreds of pellet-sized nicks, if not larger chunks of metal showing.
The first time that my red Toyota was nicked down to the metal it was parked along a curb outside my apartment complex. I fretted over the resultant damage but the culprit was nowhere to be found. The catastrophic evidence was actually minimal. Little nicks. Three of them.
The next time that my parked car was hit, six more tiny nicks deep to the metal were added. By then I realized that parking along the street meant more than suffering scraped paint. My ego felt badly bruised. I didn’t want to be caught driving a tasteless and embarrassing car like that.
Trying to minimize future damage, instead of protecting the bumper with silly putty or industrial-sized springs to repel other vehicles, I ordered plastic decals from eBay to glue to my bumper and cover the “sin.” I figured that the decals would break before any more of my paint job was damaged.
More nicks kept appearing along both of my car’s bumpers. That’s even when I’d allowed plenty of air room around my car whenever I parked. Then a larger scrape happened; it stretched from the back license plate on my car and around along the driver’s side. It ended by exposing metal at the rear part of my tire well. The value of my car plummeted faster than you can flush hundreds of dollars down a toilet.
With no note left on my car where the vandal accepted ownership for the damage, I pondered calling the police, but felt, “What is the point?” I wasn’t going to turn it in on my insurance only to have my rates go up or, worse, risk getting dropped by my carrier. It’s not like the police would be able to figure out who had hit my car.
Then I realized maybe that the police would want to keep record of all the hit-and-run crimes committed against parked vehicles here on Capitol Hill. Maybe I should have called them. Perhaps that would have been the socially responsible thing to do.
I posted my dilemma on Facebook. “Do I get my car fixed only to have it damaged again? Or do I just accept the fact that my car is going to look like a beater, no matter how much care I give it, mechanically?”
All my social media friends’ comments suggested that I needed to let go of the idea of driving a nice-looking car. It’s a privilege to live on Capitol Hill where I can walk to work and enjoy a vibrant social life with all the coffeehouses, taverns, and unique shopping opportunities here.
Just like thick and muscular calf muscles that Capitol Hill residents earned from climbing up the Hill from downtown on a regular basis, the damaged bumper sticker is telltale symbol of living on Capitol Hill – one of Seattle’s most desirable residential neighborhoods.