As of late, I have been a tad … mopey. Kind of down in the dumps. Pensive. Don’t worry, I won’t regale you with the sad woes of my life. Instead, as good medicine, I thought I’d write a three-installment testimonial of some incredibly difficult valleys and the journey to the mountain top.
Our story begins in Anchorage, Alaska and the purchase of new car. Well, new to me. It was a 1982 Subaru wagon, with four doors and four wheel drive, complete with rust on the wheel-wells, corroding the blue paint job. I bought it on a Monday, but never had the chance to get the car put in my name with the DMV as I worked during the day. So Friday rolls around and I am out on the town with two of my girlfriends, Misty and Jennifer. We head to a movie theater and park in the super-crowded parking lot. We couldn’t believe how cold it was, as it had not snowed yet and it was the middle of November. It was in the parking lot that we realized that one of the doors would not lock. But I shrugged and said, “who’s going to steal my old, beat up car?” and we went in and watched the movie. Afterwards, we headed to a new coffee shop in a questionable part of town. I parked in another movie parking lot, right next to another blue four door Subaru wagon. We headed inside and played a game of checkers.
An hour later, it was time to go as we were approaching curfew for Jennifer, who still lived at home. We walked out the door and headed to where I parked my car. Except, there was no car. The hour we were in the coffee shop the movie next door must have let out, all the patrons making a mass exodus.
It was such a surreal moment, the realization that my car was gone. Just like that, poof! The most horrible feeling of violation.
Then I began to realize how difficult it would be to even find my car as it was not technically in my name, having only had it for 5 days. Not to mention all the necessities that were actually IN my car:
My winter jacket
My school books for my college English and Math classes
My walkman (because I was still down with the mixed tapes, yo)
And the most important…$1,500 worth of Subaru!
So I did one of those very dramatic fall-on-my-knees and cry in despair. One of those moments when ugly sounds come out of your mouth and you sort of rock back and forth because you don’t know what else to do.
We called the police and my best friends, Jake and Robin. While waiting, Jennifer’s dad came and picked up Misty and Jenn and took them away. I noticed Jennifer’s wallet was still on the checkerboard table so I picked it up and took it with me. We drove around in Jake’s pickup and hunted through a city of 250,000, hoping to find my very common Subaru. No dice.
Then I went home and called my mommy. As she was in Florida, there wasn’t much she could do.
What was I going to do next? I couldn’t buy another car, I had spent every last penny of my hard earned savings on that car. How was I going to get to work in the morning? My insurance was just for liability, because let’s face it – a 1982 Subaru isn’t worth fully covering. I was pretty much up a creek.
I called my boss on Sunday and told her about the whole missing-car situation. I couldn’t hitch a ride with anyone, because everyone worked. I rented a room from a lady in my church, but she was always out of town. My boss was very kind and said if I could come down to work, I could check out a company vehicle. So Jake, once again, drove me downtown and I was able to get in a much nicer Subaru wagon with no visible rust anywhere. So one problem solved, albeit temporarily.
I returned the wallet to Jennifer and her father handed me $75, as a reward for the missing wallet. I suspect he was just trying to be nice. Either way, it helped me buy a new winter coat because it was wicked cold outside.
My birthday fell just a few weeks later and the incredible folks in my College and Career church class pooled together money and bought me a new camera, much much nicer than my previous one.
It still had not snowed, which was very unusual for Anchorage. Normally, there is snow on the ground by Halloween and it was now the beginning of December. Then all of a sudden, there was a huge blizzard that dumped five feet of snow. A week later, the police called, saying that they had finally found my car. Most likely, the culprit, upon exiting the movie theater in the bitter cold, jiggled the handle of my car and finding it open, they climbed in and stuck a screw driver in the ignition. They drove it across town and then slashed the tires and made a general mess in my car. They, of course, stole the jacket, camera and walkman. The police began checking into the car as it was the only one in the neighborhood covered with 5 feet of snow. They towed it to the impound lot and thus began the most trying three days of my entire life.
I don’t know if you’ve ever had to get a car out of impound, but I believe natural childbirth was easier. Satan, himself, must have picked the owner and placed him there as a general “I hate you” to the world. Here was the problem: because I had never placed the car in my name, they wouldn’t release it to me. So I had to deal with Satan’s other playground-the DMV. The tags on the car were three years old, so I had to pay exactly $9 gazillion dollars getting the tags current. That problem was solved, but it left me penniless exactly 2 weeks before Christmas.
My boss’s husband owned a trucking company across the street from the impound lot. He towed it to his warehouse and locked it up for safekeeping. Now I had to deal with my next set of problems: the mangled ignition and the slashed tires that now had busted rims. I was beginning to panic when an engineer in the office where I was working approached me and told me he had a set of tires that would fit my car, but the rims were bad. I was so grateful, I didn’t care.
Then another man came to my desk and offered a set of rims that would fit my car, but the tires on the rims were bad. I was ecstatic!
The next gentleman came to me and said that while he had no tires or rims for me, he did have a gift certificate for free mounting and balancing and handed me that magic slip of paper. By this point I was in tears of relief.
Now to address the ignition. My boss’s husband had connections with a guy who worked at the Subaru dealership in town and was able to donate a brand new ignition. He installed it for free as well as fixed the lock that had caused all the trouble to begin with.
As a final offering, the employees at my work had, behind my back, pooled together their cash and in a card that was signed by everyone, I found $200.
Truly amazing. But the story isn’t over. That Christmas, my College and Career class wowed me once more by giving me a really nice walkman. Once again, much much nicer than what I had previously owned.
Was this all coincidence? Or perhaps a giant post-it note that I AM NOT ALONE IN THIS THING CALLED LIFE.
I feel better already. Stay tuned, because I’ve got more to share.