I must say that, except in the most extreme cases, I'm not a fan of multiple exclamation points. But this deserves it!!!!
Yesterday Keith had a dentist appointment, so he got home earlier than usual. He called me at work to say there was a message on the machine from an impound lot, saying they had my car and I could come pick it up. The message said that it "wasn't in bad shape," but I had no idea what that meant. I mean, certainly an impound lot worker's idea of "bad shape" could possibly be somewhat skewed.
I called the number they left, which was for the city's impound office, and started writing furiously. We had to go one place to pay the tow fee and fill out paperwork. Then we needed to go to the impound lot to actually pick up the car.
I called the specific impound lot next: they said the battery was dead and it would probably need gas, but I would be able to drive it off the lot. Again, I was concerned that their definition of "driveable" and mine would not quite meet.
From this point on, I'm just a bundle of nerves. Excited and anxious. What would the car look like? How would it drive? Was it being found a good thing or a bad thing? Would I want to even drive it home from the impound lot, or would it be too weird/creepy knowing that the last person to drive it was the car thief?
At the impound office, we were behind two people in line. The first was dispatched quickly; I knew the second one would be trouble when I heard the officer say, "Well I have to issue you a citation for false plates" and the man started to argue with him. But eventually we took care of the paperwork and headed over to the impound lot.
By this point, I felt jittery. I didn't want to see the car, but I also wanted to get it over with. In the office at the impound lot, the worker asked whether Keith and I knew how to start an ignitionless car with a screwdriver. The blank looks on our faces told him "no," so he sent out a worker to jump the car and help us get it started.
Keith and I walked toward the numbered spot with a gas can. We could finally spot the car: it was the moment of truth. We walked up to the car and Keith started to put the gas in while I inspected it inside and out.
I can't adequately describe the relief and amazement I felt when I looked the car over and saw NOTHING wrong. All of the windows were intact, I didn't see any dents or scrapes on the outside (although it was dark, so that may change), and the interior looked fine. They'd dumped out the contents of my glove compartment and stolen the iPod charger and CD converter. Fine, take them!
All of my mix tapes were there. Not that I was thinking they would be a hot resale commodity, but I assumed everything in the car would be gone/trashed. Even the Adam Dunn baseball card was still intact. My garage door opener was in its usual place, and the ignition they'd removed was on the floor of the car.
All this was amazing and good, but there was still one more moment of truth to come: the drive home. The impound lot worker jumped the car, Keith finished pouring in the gas, and the worker started the car with a screwdriver, making sure to show Keith how it was done. (Yes, Keith can now steal cars! But only if someone punches out the ignition for him.) Keith and I got in, and I drove him back to his car on the other side of the lot. Keith got in his car, and we drove home.
It still felt like my car. It didn't smell very good (I had the windows open most of the way), and the glove compartment contents were all over the floor. I still tried to put the key in the ignition when I got it and take it out when we got home--that was a reminder that things were not quite right. Not that I ever really forgot ... but it did feel like my car.
The whole drive home, I was in shock. I couldn't believe I was sitting in my car, driving it along the same streets where I'd driven it countless times before. But just a week ago, I had walked out of work and it was gone. In a moment, I'd lost a car. And just like that, it felt like out-of-the-blue, I'd gotten it back again.
Of course, the saga isn't over yet. Insurance still needs to look at it and estimate the damages and it needs to get repaired ... plus I need to buy a parking pass and park in a fenced-in lot so this never happens again! But I have my car back, which is something I never thought I'd be able to say.
I have a lot to be grateful for this Thanksgiving!