My Non-stolen Car

Good news - our car wasn't stolen. I feel the need to point this out because you begin to imagine all sorts of interesting scenarios when you return to the last place you left your car and discover it isn't there.

Thursday, I parked the car down the block from some "Emergency Parking" notices. Not noticing any notices down my way, I figured I was safe. Walking around the neighborhood this past Saturday afternoon, I found a 2000 blue Volvo sedan parked there instead. If not for the Honda Passport parked outside my building sporting a broken window with glass scattered along the sidewalk, I would have just assumed that I miscalculated and the car had been towed. The broken window conjured up stats of oft-stolen civics, a rising west-end crime rate, and so on.

Saturday turned from dinner and movie into car titles, websites, and phone calls. First, to the GEICO site to check coverage. There I found "What to do if your car is stolen." That alone was worth the price of admission - particularly because it told me that I was covered. Second, I went to the DC DMV site to see if I had been ticketed. If I had a ticket, I reasoned, I was towed. No ticket.

Not giving up, I headed outside for another walk around my neighborhood and my short term memory. My normal neighbors were treated to a meandering twenty-something, looking first this way and that, then down at his Blackberry calendar, then intently up at the sky-down at the ground-up at the sky, and finally off down the street to repeat.

I was sure when I left the house that I had parked in Volvo spot. I returned damn-near positive. I pulled up another site - DC's Tow lot. Turns out that they too have an online form to fill out if you were towed. It didn't find the car. Neither did a call.

Geico says you should get a police report before you call them, so I called 311. This is not a non-emergency number, it is the "Mayor's Information Hotline." No biggie. They took down my information and that of the car, and promised to have someone call me back.

Having nothing else to do but wait, RSC and I headed for a bite to eat. She wanted to know what to expect now that we might be filing an insurance claim. I guessed about a 1-week investigation, 2 weeks for claims, and perhaps a month before we saw a check. I thought we might see something near the Kelly BlueBook value for the car. It would not enough to buy a new one, but it'd put a dent in the purchase price.

We sat amidst the partiers in an Adams Morgan eatery and chatted. A new car would be an automatic instead of our manual. It might be a Hyundai, given our friends' recent experiences. It'd need 4 doors and good mileage, but it didn't really need sex appeal. We recounted past experiences when we were robbed and how it isn't so much the loss of goods as it is the violation of "the stuff I include within my space." Of course, I said, I've experienced enough change in my life to realize how widely the human experience varies. While I don't understand what would make someone steal, I don't doubt that for some people it is a reality that isn't just normal, but preferable. I don't think they do it for fun.

RSC and I were in a 7-11 grabbing dessert when we found out they didn't do it at all. A woman, who sounded heavyset, droned and bulged through my handset to explain that the car wasn't stolen, but relocated. Uh huh. Relocated to where. 1700 Florida. Northwest DC? Yes. So it hasn't been towed. No, sir, relocated. I hang up and explain to RSC that the car has been relocated. Towed? Yes, I suppose, they had to tow it to the new spot, but they didn't tow it to the impound lot. A boon, as the impound lot rates are quite a bit higher than simply having your car moved.

Of course, the impound lot also keeps track of your car. The woman on the phone doesn't. She wasn't there when they moved the car and she wasn't there in the 100 degree Sunday morning sun as I again set out to scour the DC streets. She also didn't interface with the Metro Police Department located 1 block south from the epicenter of my search. 20 minutes later, I spotted my silver Honda Civic parked on the 1700 block, only three blocks south of the promised spot.

I learned that Comprehensive Insurance feels amazing the second you think you might need it - naches for only $70/year. I learned that, in the event of a robbery, I have my ducks in a row. Oh, and I learned that searching for a car of which there is at least one per block can be emotionally taxing. You stop quickening your step by the time you're checking whether the eighth one might be yours.


thegameiam said...

Yikes! Was any explanation given for the relocation, or was that just a tow-truck driver's idea of a good time?

elanit said...

I had a car "relocated" in DC once. 5 years ago, when my roommate and I drove down to DC from Syracuse, we stayed somewhere in Adams Morgan while searching for a place to live after graduating. One morning, we go out to see that the car is missing from where it was parked. Long story short, turns out we were parked on a street scheduled for street cleaning (we missed the sign) and instead of towing, they "relocated" the car a few blocks away. Apparently they're nice like that every once in a while. It was a relief.