Question: Dear Luise: I have been working in a tux shop this summer between college semesters. A guy I knew came in to get fitted for his wedding. We didn’t go to school together because he went to a church school, but we used to live in the same neighborhood and our parents were friends before his both died. A year ago, we swapped cars. Mine was a mini-compact and got really good mileage and his appealed to me because it was a hotter car with twin carburetors. I went back to school, in another state, and that was that. Well, when they came into the shop, I was glad to see him and he was furious with me. He said my car was a lemon and blew up, and that I knew it was on it’s way out and took him to the cleaners. After he told me off, he stormed out. I had no idea. Mine was the newer car and was running great. I don’t feel financially responsible, but I feel bad. Help! Don
Answer: Dear Don: Bummer! I assume that your trade was an “as is” deal. What else can you do with two used cars, right? It’s an unfortunate situation because he’s apparently been seething for some time and when he saw you, his rage was detonated.
I guess if you were looking pretty hard for a positive side to this situation, he’s rid of that charge before his wedding. Not much comfort, I’m sure. What he does with this is about him, not you. He may or may not have learned something useful. He’ll have to cool down to find out.
I would suggest that you use this as a lesson for yourself, since you can’t appease him without parting with money that you don’t owe him and probably don’t have. Look at what you could have done differently. For instance, since there was paperwork involved in transferring titles, you could have written an “as is” contract, of sorts. I know, since yours was the newer car that what happened was unexpected, but you both could have addressed a higher level of personal responsibility in the transaction. You can also learn from this that storing up rage is a pretty serious issue and one that you don’t want o copy in you own future dealings.
It sounds like he has had a lot of loss for someone so young, so if you can access some compassion regarding his behavior, it may help you through this.
It doesn’t sound like there was any depth to your connection and so trying to get back on an even footing isn’t an issue, if I read you right. I don’t think any further apologies are in order beyond the one I am sure you tried to make at the time he came into the store. I wouldn’t send a wedding card and take a chance of setting him off again at a time that is focused on joy and the future. Close the door, and move one…sadder but wiser. Blessings, Luise