My Happy Hour tonight consists of a 16 oz. decaf latte and pecan bar at Fix Coffeehouse in the ‘hood listening to my friend Natalie Brown perform. Admittedly, it is a very pleasant way to spend a Friday night. Turns out my Seattle neighborhood has much to offer: multiple coffeehouses, tap houses, a giant lake, the best karaoke in town, fro-yo2, plus more running, biking, hiking and overall fitness stores than you would think necessary. It is also a prime spot to have your car stolen.
So, nearly a month ago, Lucy and I went out to Target on a Friday night to get a few random things. It was a girl’s-night-out since Peter was at a sleep over and Karl doesn’t think Target nearly as hip as it really is. But Lucy shares my affinity for oohing and ahhing at all that the big box store offers. We came back around 8:30 PM and parked the car in the church parking lot right next to our house. It is not unusual for us to leave our car parked there. Our driveway backs out to an arterial. Traffic makes it nearly impossible to allow us to exit our driveway at anytime other than the middle of the night. So, it is a lot easier to just park next door so we can get out easier.
The next night, Lucy and I went out again for a quick jaunt to grab the ingredients for dinner that we forgot to get while oohing at ahhing at unnecessary things the night before at Target. When we cornered the church parking lot and noticed our car was not where we left it, we imagined Karl had taken and moved it somewhere. After quickly confirming that was not the case, there was one other alternative conclusion – that the church didn’t like us parking it there and finally, after getting fed up, decided to have it towed. A quick email later and alas, that was not the case. Our car had indeed been stolen.
We called the police department to make the report (this, by the way, is an important step if you find yourself the victim of grand theft auto; if your car is illegally parked or caught in a separate crime while not in your possession, you could be charged if you haven’t reported that someone else happens to be joy riding your vehicle without your permission). An agent came by later that evening. He asked a few questions including if there had been anything of value left in the car. I chuckled and said, “Not unless bad mix tapes count.” He tried to maintain his professionalism, but based on his sideways grin, I think he was rather amused with my quick-witted reply. Nevertheless he composed himself and indicated that likely the car would turn up in a neighborhood within a couple of weeks and to keep them informed if we hear otherwise.
Well, wouldn’t you know it, 10 days later, we get a call that our car had, indeed, showed up in a nearby neighborhood. It appeared to be in driving condition and we were instructed to go and claim it. Karl and I hopped in our other vehicle and anxiously drove about 5 miles away and discovered our beauty parked in an upscale neighborhood near the University of Washington. We held our breath and hoped that there had been no damage done that we would have to pay to repair.
To our relief, though the battery was dead, after charging, the car started right up. The window that had been left down wasn’t broken, just not rolled up. And, it still had the full tank of gas I had filled it with earlier on the day it was stolen. Once reassured that we would be able to get the car home we began investigating, or rather admiring the contents left in the car.
A large pack of double bubble, juice boxes, and applesauce squeezers were the primary remains. Something had also been thrown out the window and was splattered all over the side of the car. While it looked like diluted paint, it was likely something else as most of it has been washed off in the rain. Also included in the paraphernalia were a baseball glove and hat, an empty Ball jar, a syringe, and the most peculiar: a Flip video camera.
Karl and I both looked at each other and scratched our heads, trying desperately to figure out how our car had been stolen by what appeared to be hungry toddlers who played baseball, driven a few miles, only to be abandoned in a family friendly neighborhood with the window left down and something running that drained the battery. Not quite able to make that picture add up to something sensible, we took the Flip video inside and begged it to have answers. Instead, it left us with more questions. It was a 30 second video of the thief capturing their feet walking up to our car, using a flashlight to inspect inside, then it shuts off…
With this as the only data, may you create your own fictional tale to share in the comment section that might get us to the truth of what happened; or at the very least continue the wonder and amusement.
*Thank you, reader Kate Boyd, for the title of this post.