Almost two weeks ago, I reported my car stolen. Two days later I reported it had not been stolen and the explanation for what happened “was a long and complicated series of events.” I wasn’t trying to hide anything from anyone, in fact, several people have endured my sharing of the “long and complicated series of events”, but as the days have gone by, I have felt it more and more important for me to follow the post about the stolen car with a post about the car that was not stolen. If you are satisfied that I still have my car and I am thanking God that it wasn’t stolen after all, you can stop reading now. If you feel as though you want/need to know “the rest of the story” (another nod to Paul Harvey), read on at your own choosing . . .
That Friday my daughter, Alex, and myself had made a plan for a fun day together. She had some flex time from work, my husband, George, was out of town, and she had taken her dog, Sadie Mae, to doggie day care to play with her friends because she had been showing us she needed some socialization. We had been looking forward to this fun day together and were excited to get started! Alex picked me up at my house (when we’re together in Tallahassee she almost always drives because she has lived here for 10 years and she knows all the back streets, etc.) and drove to a new brunch place that recently opened in our neighborhood. We LOVE brunch and were excited to check out this new spot. We were enjoying our meals (see picture) and Alex’s phone rang. It was her hairdresser. Now this needs an explanation (see, I told you it was long and complicated). Most of you know Alex has been working to grow her hair out after having had two brain surgeries. She found a great stylist who is young and hip and has worked closely with Alex on this journey. Alex hadn’t been to Haleigh for several months because she was in a place where she just wanted to see some length. Recently, however, she thought maybe she would get it colored to at least give it some pizazz. She had called and asked if they would put her on a cancellation list so she could get in quickly. You guessed it, this was that call. Alex told them she would be in as soon as we finished brunch (Hello! What’s important here?) and that’s when the plans for the day began to change. I told Alex I would rather her drop me at my house and go on to the salon so I could get some things done instead of sit at the salon for two hours. She had already purchased movie tickets online, so we knew we had a tight time frame with the hair coloring and logistics of traveling from one place to another. I asked her to just keep me informed as to how the hair coloring was going.
Fast forward an hour or two . . . Alex texted and said she was running a bit later than she thought and didn’t think she could come back to get me and make it to the movie in time. I told her I would just meet her at the salon. I drove my car to the salon, we left it there and she drove just down the street to the theater. Her hair looked really pretty, as Haleigh had styled it, as well as colored it, but it was a wee bit brassy. We would later see it as orange, but I’m getting ahead of myself. We were excited to see “The Mountain Between Us” (excellent movie) and it did NOT disappoint! At brunch and on the way to the theater we had been discussing an event that was approaching for which we both had a lot of responsibilities. We decided we had time to run by the florist and order the centerpieces and then could check that off our list of things to do. It took much longer at the florist than we anticipated and as we left we realized we had to drive across town to get Sadie before 6 p.m. Yikes! We headed in that direction and were happy to see Sadie, tuckered out from her play date. We headed to my house, as we had already talked about getting in our PJs and watching movies. It was a fun day and a fun night. Alex decided to stay over since we were up so late.
Saturday morning we woke up late and just chilled for most of the morning. We worked a little on the event, putting together lists, checking on RSVPs, etc. We played outside with Sadie, did a little baking and before we knew it, it was dark. We decided to watch some more movies and you guessed it, Alex ended up staying over again.
We got up the next morning and got moving. Alex and Sadie went home and I began to get dressed. While putting on my make-up I made note that George would be coming home that day. I wasn’t sure what time he would get back in town, so I thought I should move my car so he could get into the garage. I usually park to one side of the driveway, but because he was out of town, I had parked in the middle of the drive, knowing I would be in and out. I finished getting ready and walked out to the garage, opened the garage door and my heart sank when I faced an EMPTY driveway. I thought to myself, “Maybe Alex moved my car for some reason.” “Maybe I parked in the front and didn’t remember it.” So many thoughts rushed through my mind until I thought . . . “Someone stole my car!” I’ll pause here for a minute to say there had been some car break-ins in our neighborhood recently . . . not so much stolen cars as people checking car door handles and if they’re unlocked, they steal what’s inside . . . so I had that on my mind. I called Alex and said, “Someone stole my car!” She said she was on her way. While I waited I thought I should go ahead and call the police because sometimes when you call the non-emergency number, it takes hours for someone to come out, so I thought I’d get a jump on it. I called and reported my car had been stolen out of my driveway. The dispatcher said she would send someone out. I then called my son, Will, to see if his dad had left yet. He said George was already on the road, so I didn’t want to give him the news while he was driving. Will suggested I call the insurance company, so I hung up and did that. Alex had arrived by then and when we heard the door bell, she answered it because I was on the phone with the insurance company.
The policeman was very tall and we later learned was a former marine sharp-shooter. He was probably close to my age and was very kind. He asked several questions and even apologized for asking some of them. He said some people take offense when you ask things like, “Where are your car keys now?” “Did a family member borrow your car without you knowing, possibly?” “Could you have parked it somewhere and forgotten about it?” Do people actually do that, I wondered? I assured him I was not offended by any questions, I just wanted my car back. He asked if we could walk out to the driveway. We did. There was no glass on the driveway, which didn’t make any sense, although we had read about some thieves who can access the key fob in your house and somehow get into your car, so that made it seem possible. The policeman wrapped things up, gave me his card with the case number and his badge number on it and drove away. Alex and I went back in the house, sat down and just looked at one another. We couldn’t believe what was happening! We went over the night before and neither of us heard anything outside. Sadie didn’t bark. We called our neighbors whose house is at the end of our driveway. They said they heard a car door around midnight, but nothing else.
George arrived home and we did the same, sat and looked at each other in disbelief. The insurance guy had told me to begin making a list of everything that was in my car, so I did that. George mentioned a few things for me to add to the list. I just kept dwelling on the fact that my car is 10 years old and has 160,000 miles on it. Who would want it?? One of my neighbors even asked me that! I lamented that George had just changed the oil and put 4 new tires on the car and I had just filled it up with gas. The policeman did tell us that Mercury Grand Marquis are often stolen and converted into taxis but he said that happens in New York and in Miami, mostly. That was the weekend of the Miami-FSU game, so we became convinced someone from Miami stole my car. I cancelled my SunPass transponder, thinking maybe they would get caught going through the tolls in my car. Boy, the things we thought about that day.
Monday was Columbus Day and it was pretty much like Sunday. We were consumed with the loss of my car and its contents. Also, Alex began to really hate her new hair color. She called and asked about coming back in, but Haleigh couldn’t see her until Tuesday. She would just have to wait. This may seem totally unrelated to my car story, but actually, had she been happy with her hair color initially, there would have been a very different outcome to this story. I was so consumed with the events of the past two days, I sat down and wrote a post in my blog. It helped to put everything on paper and as I wrote I became more and more content with my situation. Philippians 4:11
Tuesday Alex went to work and then back to see Haleigh to get her hair color changed. She drove into the parking lot of the salon and there was my car. What?? She called me and said, “Mom! Your car was NOT stolen!!” I said, “WHAT?????” She said, “It’s here at Tryst (the salon)!!” At that moment, the events of the past four days flooded my mind and I remembered parking my car in that parking lot on FRIDAY and never thinking about it again, until it wasn’t in my driveway on Sunday. My car was not stolen. Thank You, Jesus!
What I have learned from this experience:
- I have amazing friends and family. I can’t begin to list everyone who encouraged me, supported me, and prayed for me during this crazy time. What really prompted this blog post is that I received a package from my dear friends, Donna and Judy, from Orlando. They sent CDs to start my “new collection.” I thought, I have to sit down and tell them what happened! They won’t believe it! But how sweet to send me those CDs!!!
- Don’t be so quick to call the police. Had Alex and I sat down and gone over the events of the weekend, I’d like to think we would have remembered I had parked my car at Tryst.
- Don’t post on social media. If you have to write it down, write it down to get it out, but don’t be so quick to share it. I wouldn’t be writing this long, long post if I hadn’t shared about the car in the first place.
- Don’t be so bound up in plans. I’m a planner and I think when the plan changed, I was still so entrenched in the original plan, I didn’t adjust things in my mind and that was the beginning of my thinking my car was stolen, because I never planned to drive to Tryst in the first place.
- Things are just things. Pretty self-explanatory.
- Don’t beat yourself up. I really felt terrible for wasting the time of the policeman who came out to the house initially and the two officers who had to come out and verify the car was found. I really felt terrible for wasting the time of the insurance guy. They all told me I wouldn’t believe how much this happens to them. Somehow that didn’t help, but I appreciated their efforts to make me feel better. I felt badly that I hadn’t had my act together enough to figure out where my car was before I reported it stolen. I felt badly that some people might think this was the beginning of some mental deficiency in me and what that might mean for the future. But I finally settled into, it is what it is and I’m just grateful I have my car.
- Never say never. It can happen to you. It can happen to me. It DID happen to me.
I will say, this experience has been very, very real to me. . . more real than I imagined. Recently, when I saw a new CD advertised on TV I thought, “Wow, I don’t have any of my CDs anymore” and then I realized, no, my car was NOT stolen. I have my CDs. Another time when I was walking out of the back door that leads into the garage I thought, “I need to remember to lock this door because they have my garage door opener” and then I realized, no, my car was NOT stolen. They don’t have my garage door opener. It’s been two weeks and there are things that still come to mind and for an instant, I revert to that feeling of loss, until I remember my car was NOT stolen and I am so grateful.