By Sean Wilkinson
I feel violated. Well, mostly angry and generally disgusted, but also violated. I am the victim by proxy of vehicular burglary.
My girlfriend has been in Barcelona for a week, touring schools with her mom. While she’s gone, I have been in charge of her truck. This is great for me, usually, because I myself am without a vehicle. I’m pretty comfortable in Portland without a car, but when I do have transportation, I take advantage of it and check off the errands on my list that require driving: dumping those beer and wine bottles that I can’t recycle in my decidedly un-green building, doing the extendo-grocery shopping trip (the one where you buy all the large items you might need in the next four months or so: a gross of blue trash bags, a case of Wild Turkey, cat litter by the half-ton – you know the stuff. It’s all in the same aisle at the store).
My penance for this refreshing treat that is Transportation is that I have to find parking for the truck within city limits without the benefit of a parking space or the willingness to pay for garage parking. Street parking it is, and street parking can be a chore. Like stabbing yourself in the thigh is a chore. Generally, parking on the street in Portland means you are relegated to one or two hours at a time between the hours of 9 and 5 (unless you get one of those regional parking passes for your neighborhood, but who needs another reason to go to City Hall?). There are some places on this fine peninsula that harbor coveted “all day” spots. I won’t name them all here, but many of them lie on Pleasant Street, above the Old Port.
It was in one of these spots that I left the truck for a day and a half. People circle the block to park in these spots, waiting for an opening, lurching into any available space as soon as it’s vacated. I stumbled across one of these spots while moving the truck, and I could hardly pass it up. I didn’t even think twice about the area of town, as I had parked my own cars there enough times with no problems. I’d only had one car broken into before, and it was parked in front of a house on Park Avenue. That car was filled with boxes of my belongings and a ton of CDs, but the only thing they stole was a watch I had on the dashboard. Everything was moved around, the windows were open, and the car smelled like B.O., but they only took the watch. I didn’t really mind.
Maybe it’s the fact that the truck isn’t mine that makes this new burglary sting more. I feel somewhat responsible this time around, because I was supposed to be guarding the truck and keeping it safe. And it’s not just anyone’s vehicle, it’s my girlfriend’s. (I keep thinking I should come up with some snazzy way to replace the word “girlfriend” in these columns… maybe an abbreviation or something catchy, like “Cowgirl”).
I was walking toward the truck and I could see the trouble as soon as I rounded the corner onto Pleasant. The sliding window in the back of the truck was open. I knew for a fact that I didn’t leave the window open. A lump formed in my throat, then turned into a churning stomach ache when I got close enough to see that the door was unlocked and the contents of the truck’s various compartments were emptied across the floor and seats. I think I said “fuck” more in that span of 10 minutes cleaning up the mess than during any other 10 minutes in my life.
I just couldn’t get over the fact that some worthless piece of shit would have the balls to walk down the street looking for ways to get into vehicles. To open the sliding rear window, wriggle in the truck, and unlock the door. To root through the glove box, the ashtray, the door pockets, the center console, dumping things everywhere. And to steal a small folder full of burned CDs and a Mini Maglite. Good score, asshole. A dozen CDRs and a fucking tiny flashlight. Why did you leave the Dentyne Ice®? Sure you don’t want some jumper cables? How about that Little Debbie Oatmeal Pie wrapper? You fucking worthless pile of shit. Thanks for not touching the stereo, though. It probably would have been pretty easy to take out if you weren’t such a fuck-up. Also, thanks for missing all the CDs behind the driver’s seat.
Needless to say, it got to me. It ruined my mood all day. I called the cops and reported it, just so they were aware of the incident taking place. I don’t actually hold out any hope of retrieving the folder full of CDs. Or the Maglite, really. I’m sure that already sold on the black market for a half-rock of crack and a smack in the face.
It has convinced me that car alarms are a good idea, even in this relatively safe community. The kind of shiftless ass-clown that breaks into trucks and steals Mini Maglites would certainly be deterred by the piercing alarm that could potentially expose him as a petty crook. Then I could chase him down, beat him senseless with the jumper cables, and take back my Harry Nilsson CDs.