THE BLOG
07/10/2013 12:07 pm ET | Updated Sep 09, 2013

No High Road in this Parking Lot! What Would You Have Done?

My mantra is all about taking the high road, although I usually write about taking the high road as it relates to love, marriage, divorce and everything in between. But, as we all know, the high road is applicable to all other aspects of our life as well. The high road provides that moral compass that serves to steer us in the actions and the decisions that we make.

I have to tell you what happened to me today ... and I would love your input on what I should have done!

I was meeting a colleague at Starbucks. We were sitting outside when we heard a loud crunching sound. We looked across the parking lot to see a parked (and driverless) minivan rocking back and forth, and an SUV trying to pull into the parking spot next to the van. I asked, "Did that SUV just hit the van?" We weren't sure. It was one of those surreal moments where you catch the end of the scene and start to piece it together. If the driver had hit the van, surely she would get out and look to see what happened, and when she didn't, we were confused. The SUV then backed out and left the parking lot. I noticed the tag number as it was pulling away (as I thought it might be leaving the scene). I walked over to the minivan to confirm that it had been hit.

Wow! The front passenger side of the minivan was totally damaged. The hood and side panel were both dented and majorly scratched. The SUV had indeed taken a good smack at the minivan.

I walked back towards the Starbucks and planned to go inside to find the owner of the minivan when I noticed the driver of the SUV hadn't left the parking lot at all, but rather had parked about seven rows away and was getting out of her car. I thought, "Thank goodness she realized she hit someone's car, and she is coming to find them." I watched as she walked into the coffee shop, and proceeded to simply wait in line to order her coffee without a care in the world.

This was a young woman; I'm guessing she was between 18-20 years old. When I realized she wasn't going to seek out the owner of the van, I walked into the coffee shop and asked, "You do realize you hit that van out there, right?" She looked at me and grunted, "Yes." I continued, "You really need to ask around and find out who drives the gray van." She nodded, and said, "OK," and I walked back outside, hoping she was going to do the right thing.

Unfortunately, during that brief moment, the owner of the van did return to her vehicle (I'm assuming she was a woman) and left, never noticing the damage to the passenger side of her van.

I continued to watch the young woman in the coffee shop, and she made absolutely no attempt to find the owner. As she left the shop with her coffee in hand, she had to walk right by me. She tried to ignore me, but I stopped her and said, "By not stopping when you hit the car, and by not finding the driver, it's now considered a hit and run, and when this gets reported, you are going to be in trouble. I would recommend that you call the police. Clearly it was an accident, and you need to let them know what happened." She looked at me, didn't say a word, put her ear-buds in, walked away, entered her SUV, and left the parking lot.

I was so frustrated. This young woman knew she hit the car, knew there was significant damage, knew she had been seen, and yet still did nothing. She failed to take the high road at every opportunity that presented itself. I felt horrible for the owner of the minivan who drove away completely unaware of the damage that had been done. I pictured her discovering it hours later, and thinking, 'Oh no!" I know how costly it can be to have body-work done on both the hood and the side panel.

To finish the story, my colleague, who had written down the tag number, made and model of the SUV, reported what we had seen to the manager at the Starbucks and the local police station. I'm not sure what happens from there.

Clearly this young woman veered off the high road while in the parking lot this morning..

Nobody said taking the high road was going to be easy. The high road can be bumpy and full of potholes to navigate and avoid (let alone parked minivans!). It's opting to do something that may not always be the easiest choice, but is always the more thoughtful choice. It's making decisions that will make your kids, your family, and your friends proud. It's living your life so that you can look yourself in the mirror every day. The reality is no one is perfect. We all make mistakes. We all make decisions we wish could change. Striving for the high road is not an impossible feat. It's not a "holier than thou" attitude or approach to life. Taking the high road simply means that you try, with all good intentions, to make the right decisions. That's why I like to say that the high road has less traffic and a better view!

I'm curious. Did we do the right thing? Should we have done more? Should we have minded our own business? Should we have made more of a scene? What would you have done?