Hey, you. It’s me.
Soooo, how are you liking my 2014 Toyota Sienna XLE minivan?
What’s it been, about 24 hours since you took it, right? It’s a smooth ride, don’t you think?
I hope you’ve been enjoying it, and that it’s been worth it to you to steal my car.
Please, catch me up on what you’ve been doing with it since you drove off last night. Seriously, I’d love to know.
I know you took it while I was in the restaurant between 6:15 and 8:15, but that’s really about it.
And rather than wait for your response — which I know will never come — why don’t I fill you in on how I’ve been doing, because I really think you should know.
When I first walked up to the spot where I’d left my car (C’mon, you remember, don’t you? It was parallel parked @ the corner of Lake and Ada Streets in Chicago’s West Loop.), my first reaction was to feel embarrassed and confused.
I turned to my sweetheart and said, “Wait. Wasn’t this where I parked?”
Silly me, I thought. It’s gotta be in the next block.
We kept walking and I gripped his hand a little tighter as I craned my neck, scanning for MY car. It’s never been a hard car to find, you know – that big, old, white minivan that I’ve taken good care of, the one in which I’ve driven my kids and my friends and my dogs, the one in which I left so many personal possessions, including many that are irreplaceable. You know exactly the things I’m talking about, because you surely saw them as you rifled through MY car when you drove it away.
After you did it, you probably never stopped to think about what my reaction might be. Here it is:
My first thought was to blame myself for parking in a tow away zone. I hadn’t, of course, but I still convinced myself that I’d missed or misread a posted sign.
For the next two hours, we walked around the neighborhood as I made calls in search of my car.
The first was to 911 at 8:19pm. The call lasted 6 minutes. I explained this wasn’t an emergency, and that I suspected my car may have been towed or stolen. I was transferred to the non-emergency number, and a dispatcher asked:
Year, Make, and Model?
Time you last saw your vehicle?
I was informed my car didn’t come up in the Chicago Police Department system, but that it might still be going through processing at the pound. It might take as long as two hours, I was told. Try calling back in a bit.
As we walked through the neighborhood killing time, I found myself in a total fog.
“There’s an axe-throwing place around the corner,” my sweetheart said, a place where you literally pay to whip an axe at a target on a wall.
I looked him in the eye and said, “Perfect. Let’s do it.”
Unfortunately, the place was closed.
Even as I spoke to the Chicago Police dispatchers…even as I read the posted signs over and over on the street…I kept thinking, “I must have messed up. I must have misread a sign. My car must be impounded somewhere. I just need to find it and get it out.”
But always, in the back of my mind, I thought, Why would they tow it? It was parked legally.
Even after the police ran my plates 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 times, I still couldn’t believe it was actually stolen. That just doesn’t happen anymore.
I’d locked it.
It had an alarm.
I’d even tilted in the sideview mirror so it wouldn’t get bumped by passing cars.
Did you bother to swing it back out, before you drove off in MY car? I’m guessing no.
I didn’t even want to file a police report, you know, ESPECIALLY after the dispatcher cautioned me, “Whatever you do, if you file a report and then find your car, make sure you don’t get in it until the police come out and inspect it. Otherwise, if you’re driving home and the police pull you over, make sure you don’t make any sudden moves…just listen to what the police say. Move slowly, don’t argue with them, and remember that you’ll be considered a suspect until they determine you’re the legal owner.”
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.
Still, I refused to believe you’d done it.
I could not accept that anyone would take my car.
I’m a believer in the good of people.
I’m determined to see the positive in others.
I’m predisposed to find silver linings.
What you did doesn’t fit into my view of humanity.
It HAD to have been towed, I kept repeating to myself. Who’d take a 4 year old minivan? But in hindsight, I think I knew all along — from the minute I saw another car parked in my space — that you’d gone and done what I feared you might have done.
When I finally decided to file the police report — 2 hours after I discovered my car missing — I STILL gave you the benefit of the doubt, wanting to believe this was all some huge mixup, and that no one would actually steal a suburban mom’s minivan. The officer told me it’s likely the car will turn up in a few days…either abandoned or stripped down to nothing. “You never know, though. We might find it, dinged up but driveable. Your insurance should cover the damages and you’ll have your car back.”
Here’s the thing though. I don’t want it back now. I don’t know what you’ve done with it. I don’t know if you’ve damaged it, put a tracking device on it, done drugs in it or had sex inside.
You were IN MY CAR, and that changes everything.
Did you see my prescription glasses on the dash?
Did you find my grandfather’s medal of St. Christopher — the one he wore in World War II, the one I keep in the center console?
Did you find the last two TUMS in there, too? Or the snack bars? Or my eyeglass wash?
Did you pull my iPass off the windshield?
Did you grab the change from the dash?
Did you pocket my phone charger?
What did you do with the file folder sitting on the passenger seat, the one with a month’s worth of notes and irreplaceable research and receipts?
And hey, what did you do with my makeup bag? Is dusty rose even your preferred shade of blush? Does my shimmery eye shadow go with your look? Does it bother you that I’m definitely not born with “it”, and that I use Maybelline?
Did you think about selling off all my other other stuff, like the First Aid kit and the floor mats and the jumper cables and all the other stuff I’m still making an inventory of?
Just as important, does it bother you that I lost an entire day of work? That I spent it walking to the car rental agency and talking to police and insurance reps and …
Do you care that, when I woke up this morning, I thought the whole thing might have been a bad dream?
Let me tell you something.
When I woke up and remembered that this really happened — that I’d have to get a rental car and figure things out — I walked downstairs to make myself some coffee and face the situation you created.
I was doing pretty well until I walked to my front door and grabbed my car key off the front hall table — only to realize I don’t have a car anymore, and that I’d likely never use that key again.
Tell me, something: what should I even do with this key?
Actually, let me tell YOU something.
That car was paid for.
That car took time to save up for. To select the package I could afford.
That was the first car I ever bought by myself. I haggled with car salesmen at three different dealerships to get that model and the price I needed.
I took such good care of that car.
It was MINE.
You want to know something else, you moronic prick?
I didn’t even like driving a minivan, but I did it because it was the practical thing to do and because it had a decent safety rating and because whenever my kids wanted to offer their friends rides, I was so happy to be the mom to say, “Hop on in, everyone. We have plenty of room.”
It was my car.
You had no right to take anything away from me.
You had no right to leave me feeling violated or wondering if you were watching me last night as I left my vehicle.
Do you want to know what happened after I filed the police report last night?
Well, too bad. Here it is.
I had to be driven home by someone else — someone who, like me, had to work the next day. He and his daughter drove me an hour to my house, then turned around and drove themselves home — which took another hour for them. Not one of us were asleep before 1am. It was a school night.
And, while I can’t speak for them, I know I, for one, am exhausted, hacked off, and irritable with everyone and everything around me.
I’m mad that I have to choose whether to file a claim with insurance and watch my premiums rise — or suck it up and pay to replace all the items you took from me.
I was tearful earlier today— not to mention slightly paranoid — thinking you might have read my personal information on my insurance card or my registration in the glove box. And, while I reminded myself you’re probably too lazy to bother tracking me down, I nevertheless asked myself how much it might cost to have the locks changed on my own house.
I want you to know I don’t have time for any this, and that it makes me so angry and disappointed — in you.
The thing is, I don’t even know you.
You should also know that, despite your horrible decision, I remain positive, because:
I wasn’t hurt.
I have insurance.
Material things can be replaced.
And, if there was ever a time I felt safe, cared for and supported, believe me, it was last night. In effect, what you chose to do only served as a reminder that I am an extremely fortunate human being. So thank you.
I hope you found my car satisfactory for your needs.
I hope that, whatever you’ve done with it, you found it worth all your efforts.
Maybe this wasn’t the first car you’ve stolen. Maybe it won’t be the last.
I just wanted you to know, that, though you took my car, you selfish asshole, that’s seriously all you’ll ever get.
Take care, and good luck with the whole karma thing.