My Crown Victoria was stolen early Friday morning.
I discovered its goneitude some hours later. I was walking to my car, a box filled with air mattress in one hand and a packed duffel in the other, looking forward to a longish drive to Asheville to visit Shawn and Gretchen, when I noticed that in the parking space that should have contained my car there was naught but an oil stain and pebbles of blue-green safety glass scattered around one of the white lines. I did not let the fact of the broken glass freak me out. I did not jump to conclusions. I had two very good reasons to believe I'd simply misremembered where I'd parked my car. 1.) My short-term memory is unreliable. Case in point: I was convinced my car was stolen once before. I led my brother around the apartment complex some months back, searching all the parking lots for what I was sure was my missing car, only to discover I'd just parked it a little off to the right of where I'd first looked. Remembering that moment of total mental retardation made me think I might be having a relapse. 2.) I drive a 10-year old Crown Victoria. These cars simply do not get stolen.
So I changed my befuddled expression into something a little more engaged, stern even, set my stuff down and walked around my apartment building. When I looked in all the other places I sometimes park and discovered nothing resembling my car, I accepted what had been pretty obvious since I noticed the broken glass. Though I ended up driving to Asheville a few hours later, I'd pretty much written off my free car, (a gift from my folks), as gone forever, and had already begun to worry whether the amount the insurance company reimbursed me to replace the car would be enough to pay for something slightly better than a jalopy with 150,000 miles on the odometer.
The following morning the police found my car parked on Northern Road in such a way that the officer who made the report described it as a "road hazard". A security guard (for an apartment complex) found it in the middle of the street just a couple miles from my apartment and called the cops to get it hauled away. It was towed to an impound lot in Tucker where Peggy first got a chance to look at the damage. From the pictures she took, I could see that it wasn't totaled by any means, but it was a thousand miles from drivable. The right front tire was bad. They'd hit something, probably the curb, at a goodly rate of speed, and then kept right the hell on driving for miles and miles. The tire (only a few months old) was an unattached band of useless rubber encircling the misshapen wheel, sheared to shreds in places. The plastic shell on the outside of the driver's side mirror was gone and the triangular window behind the rear driver's side window was smashed and gone (thus the glass on the asphalt). Not to mention the ignition was dismantled and there was cigar ash all over the dash and cupholders. (I know it was cigar ash because one of them left a cigar behind, still wrapped.)
I went to Prestige Collision this afternoon (the same place that fixed the dent the tractor-trailer made back in January) to see the car myself. The most striking thing about it is that to look at it straight on you might think an invisible 800-pound person was sitting in the passenger seat. The auto-body guy suspected there was suspension damage (each of the front two wheels were aimed in different directions) and that repairs might run around $2,000. Time will tell.
And though I can't be certain, I think I saw the guys who did it.
When I parked at about 12:06 Friday morning after hanging out with my brother in Alpharetta, I saw five black men in big, dress-length white shirts (the latest in thug wear from what I've seen around town) standing and talking in the middle of the parking lot on the other side of the complex. I stopped in plain view and watched them for a bit, trying to get a better sense of what they might be doing loitering in a parking lot after midnight, but also hoping they saw me watching and might be dissuaded from any misdeeds they were contemplating. The thought that they might take umbrage at my white boy staredown did occur to me, but with a hundred yards and two metal gates between us, I didn't see why I should worry how they were taking it. I did do a quick "Am I Being Racist?" gut check and asked myself if I'd be similarly suspicious if I'd spotted five white guys dressed the same way standing in a parking lot after midnight, and I decided that, yes, I would. I think they saw me because not long after I started my nosy, busybody vigil, they ended their parking lot loitering and mosied slowly out of view. As I trudged upstairs to my apartment, I wondered if I should call the police and report the suspicious activity, but I tried to imagine explaining in my ultra-white man's voice to the no-nonsense middle-aged black woman who would no doubt answer when I dialed 911, that I thought five black guys hanging out together in my apartment complex was suspicious. The very thought made me more tired than I was, and I decided I'd rather go to sleep then make the call. I hoped vaguely that no one in the complex got their car stolen on account of my inaction, but since I never thought my own car was in any danger, it wasn't difficult to put the whole thing out of my head and think ahead to my trip to Asheville.
Anyway, the adjuster from the insurance company will see the car tomorrow, and depending on the damage, the repairs will take anywhere from 3 days, to a whole lot longer.
Seeing the Harwells up in Asheville (or Arden more specifically) was a lot of fun, but I'm going to have to get to that another day seeing how it's 11:27PM and this post is already too long.