I’m not sure why this story stays with me. It isn’t just the stealing. I guess it’s that the thieves fixed a damn-near 20-year-old beater.
I surfed across this story in the Akron Beacon-Journal: A year ago Ann Dickon took her old Chevy Celebrity station wagon to a friend’s house and the car was stolen. ”I took it there so he could work on the car’s brakes. The car basically didn’t have any brakes,” she said.
She reported the theft, her Celebrity wasn’t recovered, and she has had to ride the bus since.
(For many of us, we’d be briefly if dramatically inconvenienced before we got another car. But a story like this is why John Edwards’ message of “the two Americas” rings true for me. There is an expanding class of poorer Americans who are simply getting squeezed, and the inconvenience isn’t just temporary.)
Dickon heard nothing about it until she got a letter this January from Cleveland. ”I couldn’t believe it,” she said. “I open up this letter and it’s a parking ticket.”
The ticket was issued on Jan. 10, at 11:07 a.m. The Cleveland police hadn’t run a check on the car, they just wrote a ticket. An Akron police spokesman said the stolen ’89 Chevy had been reported in a database accessible to all police departments, but that police usually don’t check license plates when issuing a parking ticket.
”If it was a traffic violation, they run them,” he said. Then it’s important to know who they’re dealing with and if there any outstanding criminal warrants.
But that is of little comfort to Dickon. ”I’m really feeling frustrated,” she said. ”They (Cleveland police) should have towed it. I really need my car.”
She has called Cleveland police several times since being issued the parking ticket to see what can be done. ”I keep getting the runaround but I’m certainly not paying the ticket,” she said of the $35 fine.
One of the best parts of the article is the end:
Still, Dickon is able to see a bit of humor in her predicament. ”The good thing is (the thieves) had to have fixed the brakes,” she said. ”otherwise they wouldn’t be driving around in it.”
There’s an untold story in this, somewhere. About thieves who stole and drove off in a car and discovered it had no brakes — then fixed them. Given how often cars are taken and then smashed up by kids looking for a joyride, I suppose that’s unusual enough.
But something about it resonates — perhaps like that red bicycle stolen from our family, and never recovered, so now it’s just the decades-old memory of my Dad driving us somewhere, seeing at a red bike on a lawn and saying, “I don’t suppose I’ll ever again drive by a red bicycle and not look twice.”
You even remember little things, like how the front tire scraped the fender. When you’re a kid, a loss like that sticks with you, in that magnifying, resonant voice we all carry.
Maybe I’d just like to see that old bicycle again, and to find out the fender had been fixed, like a surprise happy ending. Still, all in all, I’d rather Ms. Dickon got her car back — and in a little better shape now, too.
I’ve heard of rent-a-wreck — but steal a wreck? And fix it up? Somewhere in Ohio a mechanically inclined thief is doing weird things with his or her karma, let alone Ann Dickon’s car.