A few days ago, as I was taking a run through my neighborhood, I rounded a corner and pulled up short. Since the whole exercise is about running for fifteen to thirty minutes without stopping, this worked against my ordinary regimen, but I had a good reason for stopping: parked at the curb was a gold Saturn station wagon. It was just like the one that we used to own. That is, before it was stolen, making that Father's Day one I won't soon forget.
My initial reaction was to look inside, to see if there was anything I recognized. Upon reflection it seems as though the cooler head would have taken a moment to check the license plate. If that had matched, then I would have set about following the correct procedures for such an event. Just what those steps were, I had no idea. I was focused on the back seat. Were there magazines stuffed in the pockets on the back of the driver's seat? Wait, didn't we have t-shirts from my son's middle school draped over the front seats? What about dog hair? What about the Obama bobblehead attached to the dashboard cover?
None of those things were there. The upholstery was of a similar hue, but a different texture. It occurred to me that anybody who would steal a car probably wouldn't turn their attention first to the upholstery. What would they do? Probably change the license plate. The one I still hadn't bothered to check. A wave of disappointment went through me. Usually I'm so good at finding things that get lost around my house. I find my wife's glasses at least a couple of times each week. My son's accoutrements can usually be found with a few methodical passes through the house, from front door to back. Things don't stay lost long in my world.
Except our car. In many ways, we have moved on. The insurance has paid us what they thought a gold Saturn wagon was worth, and a little bit more. They even paid off a little more on all the personal effects that went for that last ride. The one that took it away from us. Forever. This wasn't our car. It was somebody else's gold Saturn wagon. We have a Prius now. We are helping save the planet. We have smart keys. We have a stereo that plays CDs and our iPods. We haven't had to cover the any of the seats with t-shirts. There is a bit of dog hair in the back.
I turned the corner and continued my run.