After an accident: smoothing things over
I witnessed a car accident as I was waiting for a cab the other day. The driver of a sedan, who was in the middle lane of the three-lane street, must’ve realized that he needed to turn right at the upcoming intersection, because he veered suddenly into the right lane without looking.
There was dense traffic at the time, so he struck another vehicle as he swerved. The vehicle was a van with a family inside.
If you’ve ever heard a car accident, you know that it makes a sharp smack unlike any other impact. This accident was no different, especially given my proximity. The two vehicles had collided almost at the same point above each other’s wheel wells.
They stopped, and traffic diverted slowly around them. The man in the sedan got out. He looked distraught, knowing that the collision was 100% his fault. The driver of the van was unable to exit his vehicle, and he sat with his hands held up above the wheel as if to say, “It wasn’t me!”
The man from the sedan bent over to inspect the damage. All of a sudden, he too held his hands up and exclaimed, “Oh!” And motioned for the van driver to roll down his window. “We’re good!” he said, and indicated that he’d pull his car away from the van to separate the two.
Once he did that, the man in the van was able to get out. They looked at the point of impact together and dusted off their respective wheel wells. Exchanging a few words, they calmly walked back to their cars and pulled away one after the other.
Miraculously, neither vehicle had sustained any damage. Thanks to the drivers’ reaction time—and their ability to trust one another in a moment of crisis—a situation that had the potential for a great deal of friction had dissipated.
This had me thinking—accidents are a regular occurrence in a supply chain that relies on paper-based invoicing systems. Such systems provide many opportunities for buyers and suppliers to collide, albeit metaphorically. Buyers who willingly or inadvertently withhold payment from suppliers for months, and suppliers who submit erroneous invoices that cost both parties time and money to correct, are just two instances. With a streamlined and trusted e-invoicing system buyers and suppliers are able to avoid these unfortunate incidents and travel full speed ahead with ease.