Written by WATYF on Thursday, 15 June 2006 (5125 hits)
Category: Misc Mentations
I was reading a blog the other day and the author was asking people to post their most interesting personal story. After a brief scan of what little memories I have of my life, I came to the conclusion that I was a very boring person, seeing how I couldn't think of one good story about something I'd experienced. But a day or so later, I was reminded that I did have a somewhat notable event happen to me, so I typed it all out and posted it on the site. I figured I might as well put it on my own website as well, seeing how it's the only semi-interesting personal experience that I'll ever have to offer.
When I was in my late teens, I worked at a used auto part yard on the far south side of Chicago... there were a number of VERY interesting characters who worked there, one of which was "Ned". At least... I'll call him Ned to protect his identity. He was pretty new at the yard and, I swear, he was the spitting image (in personality more than looks) of Ned Flanders. He was always chipper and dorky and "okeley-dokely" and what not, and he didn't quite seem to be "all there". Anyway, Ned was going to unknowingly have a large impact on my life... which I'll get to later.
So... one day, I'm standing at the sales counter (which overlooked the parking lot through a large window), minding my own business, when a middle-aged black woman runs in saying that someone is stealing a car out in the lot. My first thought is, "Ha! that's funny... some poor schmoe just got his car jacked in broad daylight". So I saunter over to the window to point and laugh, and I realize that it's MY car that is currently driving out of the parking lot... without me in it!
Now... I must digress to give a little bit of back-story about this wonderful car of mine. It was my first car... a silver 87 Buick Century that I had bought from a delivery driver who worked at the auto yard. It had almost as many rust spots on the body as it had paint spots. The muffler was in a perpetual state of "not quite all the way hanging on by a thread" (or "by duct tape", I should say) and it went through alternators more often then most people change their socks. On top of that, it contained nary a single piece of valuable merchandise (nor was it, itself worth more than maybe a couple of bucks and a 6 pack of Miller Lite), so I couldn't think of a single reason why on earth anyone would want to steal it.
Anyway, I'm standing there, somewhat in a state of shock, watching my wonderful car (and sole means of getting my sorry butt to work) being driven away, when one of my co-workers says, "Hey man... isn't that YOUR car." To which I reply (only in my head, of course), "Yes... thank you for pointing that out... I hadn't noticed." At this point, the woman who noticed the GTA in progress turns to me and says, "Hey... why don't you hop in my van and we'll follow 'em."... Now, keep in mind, I'm a young, scrawny, pasty-faced, white boy working on the south side of Chicago, living on my own for the first time, and I just watched my primary means of transportation drive itself off down the Dan Ryan... so naturally, I say, "Sure."
The next thing I know, I'm in an old conversion van, with someone I don't even know, racing down I-94 after my own car. Up ahead, we can see that they'd gotten off at the next exit. So we pull off the interstate and get onto the frontage road where we saw them go a bit earlier. Since I didn't feel like being assaulted AND having my car stolen that day, we decided not to drive all the way up to where they had stopped the car (which was out of sight at this point). Instead, we just called the cops and waited.
After a while, a few squad cars arrive... I give 'em the details, and then I stand there while they argue about who's gonna have to do the paperwork on this one, since it's right off the highway between two districts. Eventually, we go up the road a ways to the car, which is abandoned, and we check it out. The driver door lock cylinder is buster... the ignition cylinder on the steering wheel is busted... and oddly enough... the trunk lock cylinder is busted. The worthless, factory tape deck is still there and in one piece, and so is what little else was in my car... so at this point, my only thought is... WHY THE HELL DID THEY STEAL MY CAR?!?!? It's a piece of crap... there was nothing of value in it... and they didn't even keep it!!! They just left it on some random frontage road an exit away from where they stole it.
So I'm standing there... quite perplexed... checking out my broken trunk lock cylinder, and I notice that the carpet in the trunk is a little disheveled. I pull back the carpet, and lo-and-behold... my spare tire is missing!! Now I'm thinking... "Someone just jacked my car for the FREAKING SPARE TIRE?!?!?" That's like, ten freaking dollars... used... MAX!! Someone risked jail time for grand theft auto just to save a couple bucks on fixing a flat?!?!?
Still incredulous about the whole situation, I start up my car... this time, not with a key... since such security measures are unnecessary in a car that you can start with a screwdriver (or even a slightly elongated fingernail), and I head back to the yard. When I get back, I explain what happened, and tell them about my unusual discovery of the missing spare tire, at which time, our good friend Ned (whom I mentioned earlier) relates the following story...
Earlier that day, three black guys walk in and ask him if we have a spare tire for an 83 Buick Century. Now, anyone who worked in that industry would know that many parts for the A-Body GM cars of the 80's (and later) were interchangeable... so he could've pulled the spare tire out of a P6000 or a Celebrity or a Cutlass Cierra, etc. etc. We probably had fifty of 'em laying around. But since good ol' Ned wasn't too hip on the auto parts knowledge, he looks for an early 80's Buick Century, and when he doesn't find one, he tells the nice gentlemen that we don't have what they are looking for. This all happened unbeknownst to me (or anyone else, for that matter).
Upon hearing this... I have a brief flashback to that perilous drive down the Dan Ryan in the van with the stranger lady... I remember looking over at the northbound traffic and seeing a white, 2-door Century pulled off on the shoulder. I didn't think much of it... but I remember seeing it. But on the way back, I don't remember seeing it there. So apparently, after successfully jacking my spare tire in such daring fashion, they further demonstrated their superior intellect by hauling said spare tire across ten lanes of mid-day traffic on I-94 (since they had dumped my car on the west side of the highway, and they were broken down on the east side).
So after ragging on Ned for telling them we didn't have a spare they could use, I went out in the yard to replace my recently pilfered spare tire, and grabbed one from the nearest A-Body just to prove my point.
Needless to say, this event became a very popular joke around the yard, with many interesting "reenactments" being broadcast over the intercom system whenever customers weren't around (and sometimes when they were). I ended up driving around for a couple days with a busted steering column, and then the owner of the yard (who was a friend of the family) took pity on me and had one of the yard guys pull a steering column out of an A-Body and put it in my car. So now I had a lovely, silver, rust-spotted Century with dark blue, velour interior... and a tan steering wheel.
After "the incident", the owner allowed me to park just inside the gates of the auto yard, which were kept open most of the day, but which were assumed to be safer than the apparent "spare tire larceny free-for-all" that was our parking lot. A couple weeks later I came out to my car to find that someone had broken in to it... again (which didn't take much, considering most of the lock cylinders on the car were busted). It appeared that they had rummaged through what little I had in there and decide to take every single cassette tape that I had in my car, and the center console tape holder that they were stored in...
...but at least they didn't take my spare tire.