Who came up with this label? What is so grand about auto theft? Well, now that I've had first-hand experience, I can tell you that it is anything but grand.
I came home last night a little before 11:00 pm, after having spent the afternoon and evening playing nurse to my nurse-friend M. She has been extremely ill the past three days with none other than the Swine Flu. Or, I'm sorry, the H1N1 Virus. (But don't worry, folks! The members of Club Gitmo will receive the vaccine before the American pediatric cancer nurses! The government has everything under control!) So I came home late last night, fumbled with my keys to open first the gate and then the actual front door, and after having unlocked and locked three separate locks, I clicked the lock button on my car keys, once more, for good measure. The soft beep from my truck calmed my lingering doubts that I had forgotten to lock the car. Exhausted, I got ready for bed, read my scriptures for a bit, tried to offer a coherent prayer (at this point I was fading fast and struggling to form thoughts into sentences... but I think He got the gist), turned off the light and finally collapsed into a deep sleep.
Fast forward to this morning. After hitting the snooze button for about an hour and half, I finally dragged myself out of bed, completed the morning ritual of getting ready for the day and then packed up everything I would need for my classroom observation. Every Tuesday and Thursday morning I observe a middle school classroom for my teaching certification program - 7th graders are a riot! Out of this world attitudes, but always a fun time. Finally ready to go at 8:15 am, I again go through the process of unlocking and locking all of the doors (five locks + three keys + three doors = ridiculous) and as I turn to face the driveway where I parked my truck the night before.... NOTHING. Nothing, just a big empty space of concrete and oil stains. I feel my chest tightening as I start wandering around the driveway, out into the street, as if it's only hiding behind the dumpster, only been misplaced. Surely, it can't be too hard to find a big, gray, 4-door truck, can it? Surely someone just moved it out of the way... right? Panic, fear, disgust, sick to my stomach. Can't talk, can't think. It's gone. She's gone. Leona is gone. Just like that, she's gone.
So what do you do in this situation? What do you do when you feel so violated and hurt and ill that you are having trouble breathing and can no longer see because your vision is blurred by a torrent of tears? I don't care how old you are, the first person you call is Dad. So I did. He tried to calm me down, told me I would have to hold it together in order to make calls to the police and to the insurance company. As soon as I hung up with him, I called the middle school to let them know I wouldn't be coming in today due to the fact that I was without a means of transportation, and then began frantically shuffling through the mounds of papers on my to-be-organized-and-filed table. I realized I should have tackled that project ages ago, because now I was having trouble locating my truck and insurance information. Once found, calls were made to the lovely operators at the Austin Police Department and to the helpful folks at Geico. An officer came to the house and we filled out all the pertinent information on the Make (Toyota), Model (Tacoma), Year (2009), Color (Gray), Last Seen Location (parked in my driveway) and Identifying Features (BYU Alumni license plate cover, Longhorn decal on the left-hand side of the bed gate, plumeria window decal on the bottom right-hand corner of the rear window) of my truck. She informed me that standard procedure will be to put a BOLO out on the vehicle (thank you, NCIS, for teaching what BOLO stands for), designate the license plate as stolen... and then wait and see. Fantastic.
Another phone call with Dad, this time with Mom conferenced in - she couldn't stop cracking jokes and laughing, but then would immediately sober up and say "This is not funny" only to start laughing again. Thank you, Mother, for finding humor in my time of distress and sadness. They both pointed out, though, that I have the dubious distinction of being the first one in the family to have a vehicle stolen. That's right. I'm a regular trail blazer.
I made a reservation with Enterprise Rent-A-Car, securing a mode a transportation for myself for at least the next week. I made the 1.3 mile walk to their office, where I was informed that my Visa Debit card was no good - they needed a major credit card, not a debit card. I became extremely flustered as I explained that yes, I do have a credit card, but not on me because I don't like using credit cards so I never carry it with me, it's at home, which I can get of course, but I don't have a car to get there BECAUSE MY CAR WAS STOLEN. *breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out* A manager immediately stepped in when it became apparent that I was going to be one those customers and we worked everything out. So I now have a temporary car to drive while I wait to hear back from the insurance people and the police. No offense to all you mid-size sedan drivers, but I cannot stand being so low to the ground! *sniff, sniff* I miss my truck!
I just wonder where she is right now. Are her boosters taking her out for a joy ride? Heading for the border? The state-line? *GASP!* Did she end up in a chop-shop?!?! I shudder at the thought...
(I just realized that I keep referring to my truck as a she, so maybe I should explain: My truck's name is (or, was (oh, sad!)) Leona because the engine kind of growls when you first turn the car on and when you accelerate, like a lion (lion in Spanish is león, and because she's a girl, ta-da! Leona!)
I won't go so far as to say that my truck defines who I am (I know that no material object can do that), but she is a part of my identity. I'm the Texan who drives a truck. I'm the girl in the ward who can help people move because I have a truck. And now that she's gone, I feel like I've lost a part of my personality. I imagine it's a little like how you feel when a child goes missing. Except, of course, having a child go missing is a thousand times worse and not even on the same level as having your car stolen, so I'll stop with that comparison right now...
Anyways, like the officer said, all I can do is wait and see. If they find her and she is returned to me in (roughly) one piece, I'll probably cry for joy. And if they don't ever find her, I'll probably still cry. But as I have been reminded more than once this morning, it's just a car. It's just a car, a thing. A thing that can be replaced. A thing that has no eternal value. Just a car. Just a truck.