Post Camino Changes – the damaged car

How can you judge whether you’ve changed after walking the Camino? Sometimes the changes are so subtle they go unnoticed, except by those close to you.

Sometimes though the changes are profound and significant.

I want to tell you a story which has shown me how profound the changes have been within me.

My wife Jennifer and I recently went to Ireland to research the possibility of mounting a Celtic Camino tour. I hired a car out of Dublin Airport through Hertz. For a small additional cost I was able to upgrade from a standard car to an Audi A3 that was nearly brand new – it had only 800mls on the clock.

On the third day we drove into a small town south of Dublin and parked in a carpark under a shopping centre. We then went for a walk to explore the town.

When we came back about an hour and a half later I noticed a handwritten note under the windscreen wiper. The note was written by a woman who had witnessed someone crashing into the side of my car while trying to park.

Note 2

It was dark, and the car was black, and I hadn’t noticed – but on closer examination I saw that two panels had not only been scratched, but staved in. There was extensive damage.

The witness had taken down the registration of the car that hit mine, and in fact had confronted the driver saying that he should make an attempt to find the owner of the Audi. But he evidently brushed her aside, did his shopping very quickly, then drove off without leaving a note.

That’s what prompted the witness, a lady named Angela, to then write a note and leave her mobile number. It was very kind of her. She was an angel.

I called her, quite distressed by the damage to the car, and she was very sweet and said she would corroborate her account with the police and with Hertz.

I then went to the police station and filed a report.

Why was I distressed? Because I hadn’t taken out insurance when I hired the car. I believed my travel insurance would cover any rental related incidents. But I’d never actually read the fine print so I didn’t really know.

Also, when I upgraded the car, the excess was increased to €2000.

i called Hertz and told them what happened. They informed me that even though it wasn’t my fault, I was still responsible for the damage until such time as their insurers could get restitution from the driver of the car that hit me.

So they would be deducting €2000 from my credit card.

Before the Camino, this is how I would have reacted: I’d have been angry at the driver for doing such a lousy thing and driving off without leaving a note. I’d have been angry at Hertz for the injustice of my having to pay for damage that wasn’t my fault. And I’ld have been anxious for the rest of the trip, worried that my insurance wouldn’t cover the excess.

I would have regarded the whole incident as a personal attack – as though the universe was conspiring against me to destroy my joy at being in Ireland.

i would have talked about it with Jennifer the whole trip, ruining our time in beautiful Ireland. And most probably I would have called my family and whinged and gone O woe is me. I would have regarded myself as a victim of a foul act and a massive injustice.

In fact none of that happened.

When Jennifer and I realised what had happened, we did a high five in the carpark and we laughed. We made the decision then and there that it wouldn’t bother us, and that everything would work out as it should.

I was very calm. I asked myself: what’s the worst that can happen? That’s one of the huge things I brought back from the Camino. Whenever I was confronted with something irksome or troublesome while walking, I asked myself: What’s the worst that can happen?

You can’t find a bed? Then sleep in a field under a tree. That’s the worst that can happen. And hey, it’s a fine night. That’s not so bad.

I figured in this instance, the worst that could happen was that I’d have to pay €2000 to Hertz. Losing €2000 for something that wasn’t my fault? Sure, that stings, but I wasn’t going to let it bother me. It’s only money after all. No-one was hurt. No-one was killed.

I wasn’t going to let it spoil the trip.

I didn’t allow myself to think about the actions of the other driver – whether what he did was right or wrong. I figured that was his stuff which he’d have to deal with. How did he feel doing that, and driving away? Probably not good. Irrespective, I wasn’t going to allow his energy to impact on my energy, and Jennifer’s.

I put it all in the hands of the Universe, and trusted that everything would work out. And then I left it at that and didn’t think any more about it.

Over the next ten days or so while driving around Ireland I never discussed it again with Jennifer. When I handed the car in the manager at the Hertz Office looked at the damage and tut-tutted – and said that yes, it was unfair, but I would still have to pay the excess.

He then proceeded to take €2000 off my credit card.

I didn’t complain, I didn’t gripe – I joked with him and walked away. That would never have happened prior to the Camino. I would have bitched bitterly.

When I returned home I only mentioned it in passing to a couple of people. I didn’t make a big deal out of it. And I didn’t criticise the driver. He would have to deal with his own karma.

I didn’t allow it to impact me. I got on with my life.

Everything worked out. The insurance company handled my claim efficiently and respectfully. Yesterday I got an email from them saying that they’d deposited the full claimed amount into my bank account.

I was pleased, but I wouldn’t have been angry or disappointed had they decided not to allow the claim. I’d worked out what was the worst that could happen, and that was ok.

(I am posting this from LAX and will be in the air for the next 15 hours or so!)

car in ireland


15 thoughts on “Post Camino Changes – the damaged car

  1. I guess I need to walk another Camino. I woukd have been pissed! I am so glad it worked out in the long run.
    Have a safe trip home, my new friends!
    Really enjoyed meeting you both and look forward to white port in Italy!!!
    Lynda and Dale


    • Hi Lynda, back now – and I’m missing the US already!

      Yes it was wonderful spending time with you and Dale, and hope to next see you on the sunny slopes of Tuscany! bb xx


  2. Hi Bill,


    thanks for sharing this story. A cceptance of what it is and moving on is the key of living in mindfulness. this guy had ruined your car , that was smart not to let him spoil your trip and your spirit. And btw, I am longing for a camino celtic..

    Have a safe trip home my Camino buddies..

    bises from basque country




    > Message du 18/06/14 05:47 > De : “PGS – The Way” > A : > Copie à : > Objet : [New post] Post Camino Changes – the damaged car > >

    Bill Bennett posted: “How can you judge whether you’ve changed after walking the Camino? Sometimes the changes are so subtle they go unnoticed, except by those close to you. Sometimes though the changes are profound and significant. I want to tell you a story which has s”


    • Hey Marie – Camino Buddy-esque!

      I’m currently reading the Dalai Lama’s book on the philosophy of Tibetan Buddhism. He talks about striving towards “emptiness,” and the dissolution of “phenomena.” It’s really what this story is all about.

      Can’t wait to see you again! Next year!

      Big hugs and love,


  3. Changes such as this enable you to live more joyously. What an incredible gift! Good on you, Bill. Sounds like it makes Jennifer’s life a bit more peaceful, as well. Grin. Sorry about the long flight home, but it beats swimming! Hugs. Julie

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Well, Bill, good on you for reacting peacefully. I’m not quite there yet post-camino. I can let that sort of incident go by the wayside, but still get cranky when, say, people are rude or school kids don’t stand up on the bus. Those sorts of things still rile me!!! Safe trip home 🙂


    • Hey Britta – I still get bugged by those things too! I try really hard not to let them affect me. Each day is an opportunity to advance, is the way I figure it!



  5. Great story. I would like to think i would handle it that way as well, but not so sure.

    When you read this you will be home, so welcome home. Was great spending time with you and Jennifer.



    • Hey Steve, Jen and I had a great flight back. The plane was not full, so we each had three seats across so we could sleep the whole way. Perfect! We’ll be back again soon to start the filming for PGS. Great seeing you and Jill!

      Man hug mate!!


  6. Hi Bill

    I haven’t really thought about the changes in me post Camino. Perhaps the same sort of thing has happened. As you know I had a bit of bad luck since coming back – my car being broken into and damaged and then getting knocked off my bike by a car. I wasn’t angry about either instance. It was annoying and an inconvenience. I’ve just found out that the damage to my knee from the accident is permanent but I’m still not angry about it. These things happen in our lives and we can’t control them. We just have to work with them.

    I’m glad you and Jen are back safe. I’m looking forward to hearing more about the movie.

    Donna xx


    • Donna, What a great attitude. Wow, you have had some difficult times since returning. Too bad about the knee. What did the accident do to you. Seems rather early for the docs to proclaim permanent injury. It is amazing what your body can heal. Steve


    • Hi Donna – that’s very upsetting to hear that you might have permanent damage to your knee. I see that Steve has posted above, saying it’s too early for the medicos to say that – and I tend to agree with him.

      I broke my back when I was 26 years old – had two plates screwed into the spine which are still there – and the doctors at the time told me I would lead a physically impaired life, and I haven’t.

      Seems though that you are being tested at the moment, and you’re meeting those challenges with enormous courage and grace. Love, Bill


      • Hi guys

        My point of impact with the road was initially my knee. There is some bone damage there that apparently won’t repair. It hasn’t stopped me from walking, I’m still doing 50 – 60km per week. It means I can’t kneel and I’m not sure if I ever will. In the scheme of things that’s a small price to pay. It could have been so much worse.

        Bill do you beep every time you go through airport security?



        • Hi Donna, good to hear that you can still do long distance walking! Surely though there are surgical procedures to remove that bone?

          Haha – I don’t set off the alarms going through security. I’ve managed the plates largely through yoga, which relaxes the muscles in my back and upper legs, which when tight can pull on the back muscles.

          Anyway, I love your attitude! You’re taking this setback so graciously.



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