10 September 2005

Three Breaks: Part 5

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4
Part 5:

Soon after the purchase, I was in San Francisco, my latest car divested of everything except my usual trinkets, sundry film gear, maps, and auto accessories. My apartment straddled the boundary of touristy Chinatown and posh Nob Hill, arguably the most difficult area in the city to find parking. Maybe I should've postponed buying a car. I drove less frequently, and days would pass when I wouldn't see my sedan at all, parked as it often was many uphill blocks away.

From the sidewalk in front of my place, I could see the bay, but the sardined buildings overwhelmed the distant nature. Filth collected in the gutters. Street sweepers were ineffective as most people risked getting parking tickets instead of moving their cars. A fine black grit covered everything and thickened with the lack of rain.

My car needed a bath. I found a coin-operated carwash in the phone book and was delighted that MapQuest routed me through the Presidio and Golden Gate park. Sunny, low 70s, some wispy clouds across the blue, it was a beautiful day for cruising to the latest dance hits.

The Corolla was nearby for once, just around the corner, halfway up the block. The Club was wedged down to the seat because of the rotation required to curb the tires. I squeezed in, jiggled the key for a few moments, and dislodged it. It'd been such a hassle to get locked, I almost hadn't bothered, figuring the appearance of using the antitheft device would be good enough. I tossed it into the adjacent footwell.

The glove compartment was open, and the envelope I keep my registration and insurance card in was sitting on the passenger seat. That's odd. I put it back and closed it. The ashtray was out, and the small storage space above it was unfastened. I park on steep hills all the time and none of these have ever come loose before. Maybe someone hit my car while parking and that popped them open. I closed and opened the compartments to check their action and they seemed fine.

A man in a pickup truck, stretched across the driveway ahead of me, was waiting for me to leave so he could back into the legitimate space. I pulled out, noticed the open door light was on and the lid of my trunk was rising.

Someone broke into my car! I pulled into a 10-minute-only space just past the intersection. With the motor still running, I exploded out the door and dug through my trunk. My spare tire, jumper cables, and jack were still there. So was a bag of gels and diffusion, the piece of bounce card, two AAA guides to California, and a plastic bag. I slammed it shut.

I tore through the items under the seats: an ice scraper, my LA Thomas Guide, and an atlas of the US I'd gotten for my birthday in '02. My big red MagLite was gone.

The front passenger door was unlocked and unlatched. Could I have left it unlocked? Considering my obsessive-compulsive tendencies, it didn't seem likely, yet there was no apparent damage to the door. I tried visualizing the last time I'd parked, surveying the locks as I always do. Maybe not always?

In the footwell, my case of cassettes remained, but 3 tapes were missing. I tried to recollect which ones they were...mix tapes, I decided. That'd be odd unless they looked through the songs and liked them? Since the case had been shut when I picked it up, it seemed more likely the tapes were at home somewhere. Slightly relieved, I resumed my survey.

My purple bandanna and the spare change that lived beneath it were gone. “I'm such an idiot! I've been touching everything, moved my car from the crime scene. You'd think I'd never watched any CSI,” I exclaimed. My ten parking minutes were up, so I relocated my car and then walked home to call the police...

Final Part


  1. Man, it's a lot of hassle to have a car in the city!

    Nice piece of writing, Claire!

  2. Thank you very much for reading!

    If I could've afforded a space in a garage, it would've been much more tolerable.