I got my car back today from the body shop.
I walked up to Prestige Collision a little after noon today, and noticed my car parked out front. I also noticed that all of the hubcaps were off. I stepped up to the car, looked in the backseat and saw all four hubcaps piled up in back. I went inside and said to the older lady in the front office, "I'm here to pick up the Crown Victoria. I'm not sure it's done though. The hubcaps are all off." "Oh, are they?" she said, and then the stooped-shouldered old lady walked down a hallway out of sight. I sat down. (Beside me was an H2 driver who'd had the right side of his rear bumper knocked slightly askew. You can imagine how my heart bled for this guy.) After ten minutes of worrying whether they were going to try and send me home to put the hubcaps on myself because they knew I was holding out on them with the hubcap key they'd been harrassing me about since I dropped it off, I conquered my fear of the ultra-germy waiting room magazine and picked up a copy of Time. The one about Hillary running for President (she actually might not, so says Time). Twenty minutes later the old lady said my car was ready and I wrote her a check.
I walked out to the car and noticed they'd put the hubcaps on while I'd been waiting. I inspected further and found that the backing that went on the back of the driver's side mirror hadn't been replaced. I walked back into the office and the foreman of the place, Jamie, came back out to the car with me to look. "I remember you saying that when we did the initial estimate," he said, and said he'd have to order the part. While he was looking for the official car color listed on the side of the door, I noticed that the hubcaps that had previously been stacked in the backseat had left brown circular grease stains on the upholstery. I pointed this out to Jamie, too. He seemed surprised at the mess they'd made and called over the employee who'd set the hubcaps there in the first place and spoke to him quietly. Another employee came out to clean it up and Jamie told me to come back Wednesday so they could pop on the mirror backing and that'd be it.
I got in the car, started her up and saw the gas gauge pointing at the big 'E'. It had been pointing just south of 'F' when they stole it. Sons of bitches drove the thing until it was almost out of gas and then wrecked it. After I let that sink in for a moment, I looked in the rearview mirror and saw what looked like the remnants of decals stuck to the mirror itself. It looked a bit like a scorch mark. I rubbed at it with a napkin and nothing happened. I scraped at it with my thumbnail and nothing happened. I went back in and told Jamie. He came out with me to see what the hell I was talking about, looked at it, and said he'd order that part, too.
I drove to the Kroger gas station after that and filled my tank back up with the gas that the whoresons had depleted with their joyriding. I think my car actually rides a little better now, but that might just be because something's loose down there and is readying itself to fall off. I don't know; like an axle or something. It doesn't quite feel like my car. But even with all of that, I'm very glad to have my ole Crown Vick back at home. But I can't help but wonder if they'll be back and steal it again. Though on the face of it, the prospect sounds outlandish: a ten-year old Crown Vick so enticing to local car thieves they'd steal it twice. But then again I thought the very notion of stealing it in the first place was outlandish. And really: what's to stop them from doing it again? The security our apartment complex's gates provide us is completely illusory. If they want it, they can get it again. I guess what I need is a low-cost security device that's not the Club.
Anyway. That was a bit of my day. More tomorrow.