23 December 2010

A Car Theft for Christmas

As a longtime driver of extremely used cars, I've never been in a position to gracefully resell a car or (heaven forbid) turn one in to a dealer against the purchase of a new car. The two cars I've owned by my very own self have gone melodramatically.

The first, a 1965 Ford Meteor, rusted out. My mechanic told me to sell it, but I just couldn't let it go.

The frame broke in half when they tried to put it on the hoist to check the brakes.

I cried for an evening, and stayed up all night drinking a bottle of wine all by myself as a tribute to that fine, extremely large vehicle. I remembered the good times: the time her muffler fell off in the alley and I had to drive to the mechanic hearing the mighty eight-cylinder engine's full roar, the muffler on the passenger seat beside me. It was extraordinary.

Then there was the time my friends and I drove her all the way to St. Louis and back.

I was still driving the Meteor when I met Dave. Let me tell you, a giant green vintage car that looks like it was used on the set of Mad Max for a while is a great thing to have if you're trying to meet a guy like Dave. I won't say what kind of guy that is, because Dave is many things, but let's just say he was greatly impressed by that car, and that greatly impressed me.

When the Meteor died, I would have been really stuck for a car if my dad hadn't given me his old Dodge Spirit. I know, right? From super sexy vintage badass car and dad car. The Spirit wasn't exactly my dream car, but I was super poor and in no position to complain at all. And you know, that circa 1994, burgundy wonder with its matchy-matchy interior was not so bad. Six cylinders gave her a lot of pep. And I didn't care if the dog gucked up the interior with his muddy feet. We've gotten along well enough for the last four years or so.

A couple of Saturdays ago, I went out to get into the car and take the dog to some remote hiking trails for a good, solid walk.

Someone had broken into the Spirit over night. They'd tried to drill through the driver side door and failed, apparently, then drilled through the passenger side door (the street light was shining on that side - better visibility), and gotten into the car.

At that point, my neighbour, who happened to be awake at 4:30 in the morning, looked out her window and saw the guy enter my car. She woke her husband up and told him to go out and check out what was happening.

In getting dressed, he turned on a light. I guess the guy saw it and ran away.

He'd already pulled the ignition out. As I understand it, he was about five seconds away from starting the engine and driving away.

Long story short, because of my fabulous neighbour, there was still a car to send to the garage and be assessed for the insurance claim. The insurance company called it a total - a little bit too bad, since the car was still in running order. At the same time, the payout was more than I could possibly have gotten if I'd tried to sell the car.

So today, Dave and I bit the bullet and bought a new car. Well - new to us, and newer than any other car I've owned. It's a 2009, previously used by a rental agency. We're happy with it. It's fun to drive.

In some ways, that would be car thief did us a favour. Not as big a favour as our neighbour, though, which is why we gave her and her husband cookies. Mister car thief, you'll just have to settle for an internet shout-out.

Merry Christmas, everyone. But an extra special Happy New Year to the car thieves out there.

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