Is Answering Back a Sign of Disrespect Always?

th            When do you draw the line between respect for the seniors and your own self-respect? When do you define “answering back” to an elder person as defense and not disrespect?

My cousin’s car was hit by a reckless driver last Sunday. The vehicles stopped when the traffic light was red, when suddenly a pick-up truck bumped the rear of my cousin’s car. The impact was strong that made her car move forward and hit the car infront. The driver behind her Honda Civic car was a 39 year old guy who apparently came from a drinking spree.

The cars were not insured comprehensively which meant that the guy had to pay for the damages with his own pocket. The police came and upon interview it was found out that he had no job. His mother, a retired teacher, came to the rescue and settled matters with us. The guy had a cold feet leaving his mother to talk with us. Jerk.

Contrary to what me and my cousin expected, the mother was arrogant with us. She said that they had no money to pay for the damages. When we became more frustrated, she said that we could just  put his son to jail. If she has to pay, we have to wait until the end of the month for her to have the money for the damages. With that one month delay, they offered no loaner vehicle nor would they pay the transportation expenses that may be incurred as my cousin will go back to her work.  It was an unfair offer.  I understood that they have difficulty but not to see any remorse on their part, especially her son, was unacceptable. It was a “take-it” or “leave-it” offer to us. Unbelievable but true.

All I can remember is the heated discussion that came after.  Personally, it felt bad talking loud and angry to an old woman. Confident with my reasons and the possible consequences of their non-compliance to the damages,  I was able to make her agree to pay for the damages. We had no choice but to undergo a ranting verbal battle with her, a way I never wanted to resort to.

It felt bad. But I had to answer back.  I asked for his son so I can slap on his face, what stress he brought to my cousin and the more hassle he is bringing by not having the balls to face us. But like any mother, she protects his son by saying she has to help him and we just let him be.

It made me feel weak because she was an old lady and it felt like I was fighting with my own mother or grandmother. When her husband came into the picture and posed as someone intimidating, things got worse. He gave us statements, almost calling us “names”. I felt a strong urge to verbally fight back to defend ourselves even if we know we didn’t have to since we were the victims. Their son caused the accident, that main fact should not be forgotten.

But there are just people I guess, who even with the fact that they caused the misfortune, would remain arrogant to the victims. They would have turned the tables and just control the whole agreement if we let customary values take place. I believe that we were raised well by our parents. We grew up being taught not to answer back to the elders, but today I just had to. We just have to insist that they pay otherwise we will take their car. And God forbid, we will let their son be sent to jail.

           I am angry with that 39 year old guy for putting his parents up for something like this at a very old age. I am sad that he had to drag his parents to cover his ass.  I am sad that he has to put his parents into a situation where their pride and dignity will be crushed just to defend him. Moreover, I am angrier that he made me rant at this parents. 

We got them to pay for the damages. I apologized after but from the look in their eyes, they were angry at us for not agreeing with their plan. More that they were furious that we answered them back, not maybe in the same pitch they used but still, we answered back.

It still felt heavy but we know that it would have made us felt worse if we didn’t do what we just did.