I wrote this story up to share with Ben, and he thought I should post it in a journal or a blog if I hadn't yet. Which, uh, I hadn't, because I've been pretty bad about journaling since my mission. But it was already written up, so I've just copied and pasted here. For posterity. Or something.
So back in the days before my Honda Fit, I had a 1993 Honda Accord. It had previously been owned by my sister (while I was on my mission), my brother Jonathan (before he sold it to my sister), and my brother Nathan (who bought it used.) It got great gas mileage, but otherwise -- well, having been through three college students before it got to me had taken its toll. It was dented and abused and broken and repaired and then abused again. It didn't have air conditioning, because to repair the AC would have cost more than the car was really worth. It also didn't have a radio. Well, it had a radio, but it came with an anti-theft mechanism that meant you had to enter a code after it had been to a shop and they'd had to reset the electrical system or something. Unfortunately, one of the buttons stopped required to input the code was broken, so you were unable to enter it, thereby rendering the radio permanently useless.
I'd started wanting to get a Honda Fit right when they came out. They were just so little and adorable and economical! (And zippy!) I was done with school and felt that I could reasonably afford the car payments. However, in my family we're pretty debt-adverse, so I knew the responsible thing to do would be to eke out as much more life as I could out of my Accord while saving up for the Fit. This seemed pretty boring, but I was resigned to it.
Well, in November of 2006, my Grandma died and I drove up to the funeral. I let my dad drive the car around a lot, as there were a whole handful of us juggling a few cars between us. It snowed, and my dad took a corner a little too sharply and tore off my bumper. Again, I struggled. I wanted a new car (with AC and a radio and no rust) so very, very badly, and the repairs for the bumper would almost certainly be expensive. Eventually, I gave in and paid up, had it repaired, and kept slowly saving.
Then in 2007, my windshield cracked and I had to get that and a couple tires replaced in order to pass inspection. And then just the day after paying up and fees for registration, with the blue tape still around the windshield to hold it in place, I went outside to drive my car to work.
I walked to the normal parking spot. I shared at that time an apartment with three girls, but we only had one assigned parking spot. I was PRETTY SURE I'd taken it the night before, but it wasn't there. Maybe I'd parked in a different spot! Our apartment building was pretty large, and it took me quite a while to wander through it and really make sure that I didn't see my little junky Accord anywhere.
It was BAFFLING. It never even occurred to me that the car was stolen, because really, who would do that? A thought that GENUINELY OCCURRED to my mind before stolen was "abducted by aliens", because my terrible car had been parked right next to a very nice Lexus. (I'm pretty sure I didn't take that thought seriously, but I definitely had it.) I called my roommates to make sure there hadn't been some prank involving stealing my car, still in a state of very amused shock and befuddlement. (Seriously? MY CAR?)
Well, they hadn't moved it, so I looped around the parking lot once again, called into work to let them know I would be delayed, and then called the cops. I have to wonder if the dispatcher thought I was a crank caller, because I still couldn't wrap my mind around it and was kind of out of it. "Hello? I, um, think my car got stolen? Maybe? It's just gone. I don't know where it went, so -- I guess maybe stolen?"
I didn't know whether to hope for a recovery (so as to keep saving money and not have to go through the arduous process of auto loans, et cetera) or for it just to be totaled, so that I could get the shiny new car I secretly really wanted. Well, a couple days later, I got a call from the anti-gang squad. They'd located my car -- it seemed to be in one piece and not taken to a chop shop, like I'd maybe thought -- and taken it to an impound lot.
Heart sinking with disappointment and resignation, I took the bus to the lot and picked up my car. Apparently you can steal older model Honda Accords by jamming a screwdriver into the steering column! Who knew? But other than the scar of the screwdriver, it all seemed to be in order, so I made sure the fluids were topped off and then started driving home.
I had not gone a block before smoke started billowing out of the engine. It was pretty terrifying. I pulled over and hyperventilated for a little and tried to decide what to do. Well, I was just too cheap to call for a tow, and I had some extra coolant in the car, so I topped off the coolant again and drove carefully, slowly home just to get it into my parking lot. And then I called my insurance.
Well, the adjuster came over and looked it over -- whoever had stolen it had only driven about 80 miles, but they must have done some really rough driving or maybe driven the whole way in first gear! Whatever had happened, he took one look at my engine and said, "Oh, yeah. You'd need to get a whole new engine, which, considering the age of the car -- we'll just total this."
So I got a check from my insurance for the blue book value of the car, debated a little while longer about whether to get a used car that I didn't like or to take out a small auto loan and get one that I loved, and then went ahead and got the Fit. I was able (in part to the free rent gravy train I enjoyed last year) to pay it off before I'd had it for a full year, so I think I made the right choice! There was no way I'd have managed the cross country trip in the middle of winter with all my belongings in this world with the old Accord, that's for sure.
Anyway. There is my story, which can basically be summed up as "I think it's really funny that my car got stolen." I might need to work a little bit on brevity. :)