Fender Benders, Faith, and Fortunes

The Ding

An Act of Faith, Rewarded
On February 7, as I sat at my desk at work, I heard someone enter our office and ask at reception, “Does anyone here drive a gray truck?” I walked out to the lobby, where I found two Latino men whose t-shirts advertised a mobile detailing service. I said, “I drive a silver Tacoma. Is that the truck you mean?” One of them nodded. I followed them to the parking lot as this-is-going-to-be-a-hassle dread rose in me.

“We backed into your bumper when we turned our van around,” the shorter man told me. I sighed. “Let’s have a look,” I said. My truck sported a new crease, about four inches long, in the rear bumper.

“What would you like us to do?” the spokesman for the duo asked me.

I took my first good look at the men and realized they were frightened. Both of them were studying me nervously. I wondered how big a chunk of their lives I held in my hands at that moment. Perhaps their business wasn’t properly licensed. Maybe their immigration status was suspect.

Or maybe they didn’t want to lose an hour out of their workday dealing with police reports and insurance paperwork–but their fear seemed deeper than that.

I studied the nick in my bumper. Finally I said to them, “My truck is five years old. It has other dings. I would like for my husband to look at it, but I think it’s okay. But, look here: the lens cover on my tail light is cracked, too. We’ll need to get that fixed.”

The two men each let out a long breath as their expressions eased. Their spokesman, Geraldo, offered me his card. “You find the price and tell me. We’re here every Monday. I will come and pay you.”

Two days later I called Geraldo. I spent a few minutes reminding him who I was, then I told him that we were not worried about the bumper damage and that I’d found a replacement tail light for sixty dollars. “Okay,” he said, and hung up.

Monday, February 14, came and went and Geraldo did not come to my office. Later that week we left on a long-planned vacation. When I returned on Monday the 28th, I asked if anyone had come by to leave some money for me. “No,” the administrative assistant reported. “No one came by.”

I was disappointed, but not terribly shocked. I mentally shrugged. Maybe we’d get our sixty dollars back; maybe we wouldn’t.

Later that day, as I sat in my truck using my cell phone, I saw the detailing van pull up. It stopped behind me, so that I could not pull out of my parking space. After a moment Geraldo approached the truck. “Sheila?” he said. “Hi, Geraldo,” I responded.

“What did your husband say about the bumper?” I was startled. Had he forgotten my phone call? Or not understood me?

“We’re not going to fix the bumper,” I told him. “My truck is five years old. The tail light part was sixty dollars.”

“Sixty dollars?” he asked, “Yes, I told him.” Geraldo smiled, big. “We’ll be back with your money today. We came by last Monday but it was a holiday.”

Later that afternoon, as I folded three twenty-dollar bills into my wallet and said good-bye to Geraldo and his taller, silent partner, I felt a gratitude worth far more than the sum of sixty dollars. Geraldo’s faithfulness to his word had illuminated for me God’s faithfulness to His word.

God keeps His word, in His time and in His fashion–and I depend on Him for things far more dear than a new tail light.

 23 Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep His promise.
Hebrews 10:23 (NLT)


  1. I love this modern day story about patience, forgiveness and trust.

  2. Thanks, David. I hope to collect more.