Today marks two weeks since I went outside and noticed my car was missing. Several things happen when you can't find your car where you left it. You have to sift through the ashes of the previous evening. Did you do something dumb? Was it parked behind some bar somewhere? Do I have a drinking problem? Wait, I didn't even drink. Had a I ridden my bike? Did I sleep drive? Do I even have a car?
Was it towed?
That's the only other time I thought I'd had a car stolen. The San Francisco parking mafia drug away my Dodge Neon rental in the time it took to pee. Sarah and I had celebrated that we'd gotten the rental for $89 for an entire week, yet it took me $300 to get it out of impound. And I'll just add one more thing, San Francisco: you have homeless guys defecating on your sidewalks, but you're hauling off cars so you can sweep your streets. I think you're missing the real mess.
I'm kinda still pissed about that. And that only clouded my judgement. I must have been towed, I thought, as I surveyed the Western mountain scenery availed by the absence of my Subaru. But everyone else was still on the street and I'd parked there for 13 years. Thirteen years and only one broken window and one hit and run. The hit and run was just last month and I'll share how it's made the insurance investigation more interesting. But I hadn't gotten to the insurance yet. Sarah and I sat on the front porch and wondered what had happened to my car.
I eventually called the police. Officer Disner of the Englewood patrol arrived and strolled through a list of required questions. Had it been repossessed? he asked. And I laughed at first but then realized the legitimacy of his query. Not only because I'm sure a lot of people fall behind on their payments, but also it seems like theft is the last thing you assume with a 1999 Subaru Forester. I was flattered that somebody actually wanted it, and the officer's tone seemed to reflect that. "Are you sure it wasn't any other thing than theft?" He seemed to know that a car that thunders with the sexiness of a port-a-john on it's side is usually it's own theft deterrent. And this particular Forester was plain white, had a dented rear panel, and looked like the fleet car for broken dreams.
I've found that there's a thing that police say by not actually saying it. Once I called in that my bike was stolen. The brazen thief had even left a half-empty 40oz beer on our porch. "I have fingerprints!" I'd shout at them. However, the cops were very nice in how they conveyed that there wasn't a chance in Hell that they'd find my 1984 Specialized Rockhopper. They were like the very friendly Officer Disner. He floated some gentle pleasantries about "seeing what they could do." Not "we're going to track down every last criminal until we've returned this cheap used car you found on Craig's List." Everything said after he'd determined that it wasn't a repo, a bunch of errant parking tickets, or a drunken mistake, was a tender push towards a future without my Forester.
I proceeded down that path with my call to Geico. As you know, you can't have a dream without first seeing a Geico commercial, and for years I've resisted the marketing deluge of the Government Employee Insurance COmpany. I finally cracked after doing the math on the savings. I'd been with State Farm for 25 years and they'd been good to me, but Geico would be about $600 bucks cheaper per year (that's before State Farm raised my homeowners $500 for breaking the multi-line discount.) The first month I was with the new company, I woke up to find my car had been smacked by someone or something. The rear taillight was shattered and there was a gouge in the back left panel. I wasn't all that upset because with Geico I'd been able to step up from my State Farm liability and get "Comprehensive" coverage on my old Subaru.
Now "comprehensive" is in quotes because it's not actually comprehensive. My kind of comprehensive means full or all-encompassing. To Geico, "comprehensive" only covers fire, flood and vandalism. It wouldn't cover collision or, in this case, the gouge in the back of my Subaru. And when, a month earlier, I'd squealed with glee to the Geico representative about getting "comprehensive" for that little, I thought he'd at least comprehend that I wasn't comprehending what their "comprehensive" actually meant.
When I discovered the truth about their lie, I squealed again. Something damning like, "So if my car's stolen you'd cover that, but not this little dent?" I repeated that a lot to a many people. I even tried their tact: "How about, in this case, the word "dent" no longer means damaged, but instead "stolen and set on fire." I shared my frustration in so many different ways that it eventually became less about communicating and more about therapy.
Cut to a month later, and I'm calling Geico to say my car was stolen. There seems to be some suspicion. I've had a some recorded interviews and have fielded some doubt that my car was stolen at all. Or maybe it's just because it's a 1999 Subaru Forester and someone wanting it seems unlikely.
And this will likely be continued....