A light touch to my shoulder brought me up from a deep, loud-snoring sleep. “Babe, your cell phone is ringing,” said the quiet voice next to me.
“It’s the middle of the night,” I mumbled as I tried to burrow deep into my pillow and back to oblivion.
Anyone who knows me well enough to call me in the middle of the night knows that the phone will NOT be answered. I’ve been there – done that – and have decided no more. My middle-of-the-night calls have consisted of a telemarketer at 2:00 a.m., the county sheriff with a message to turn in expired medications at 11:30 p.m., and a call from a son who thought that at 1:00 a.m. I needed to hear the karaoke singer at his local bar.
The Karaoke Call resulted in a short story, Natural Beauty Takes Time, which appears in my first book. To find out how a late night phone call and ‘beauty’ connect, I guess you’ll just have to read the story, as it was the deciding factor in NOT answering late night calls and should give you quite a chuckle.
“It’s 7:30,” the quiet voice continued to torment me.
With a groan I ignored this new fact, as my eyes didn’t want to wake up just yet. I was just getting a good snore going again when I heard it myself – my cell phone sounding out that annoying ring tone. “Geez,” I thought to myself, “this must be important,” which was immediately followed by, “It had BETTER be important.”
With my sleepy eyes only half opened, I made my way to the living room where I purposely leave my cell phone every night so if it does happen to ring, I won’t hear it. So much for that theory. “Hello,” I say as I flip open the phone. (Yes, I am still the proud owner of a flip phone. I’m taking baby steps into the present century.)
“Mom.” I hear my daughter’s tearful voice. (Oh dear, something IS wrong.) “Someone stole our car.”
It takes a minute for this to digest. No one is dead. No one is even hurt and the world hasn’t ended. Good. “What happened?” I query, trying to be empathetic of the gravity of this situation.
Evidently when my son-in-law walked out the front door of their New Orleans home to go to work, he was facing an empty driveway. Their ‘good’ car, a 2002, Ford Taurus with 160,000 miles on it and two cartons of unopened cigarettes in the back seat was GONE. I’m sure there was some discussion that included silly questions like ‘What did you do with the car? Why didn’t you bring the cigarettes in the house? Do you know how much those cost?” before they realized they were the victims of grand theft auto.
The police were called, a wait of several hours went by but finally a report was filed. Evidently stolen cars are not very high on the Priority List. First would probably be murders, assaults and on down the list would be car theft, perhaps right below cats-stuck-in-trees. The police officer that finally did arrive was very polite and sympathetic but didn’t give them much hope of recovering their vehicle. He explained that often cars are taken down a side road, striped, and then set on fire and burned in an effort to destroy any evidence left behind, or maybe burned just for fun.
At any rate, my son-in-law had gotten a ride to work and was sitting on pins and needles waiting for my daughter to call and let him know when and if the police showed up, what they had to say and how long they could expect it to take to recover their car. Needless to say the news wasn’t very encouraging.
My daughter had only been married for a short time and she and her new husband had been scrimping to save money wanting to buy a home. They were working for the American Dream and instead were wading through a nightmare and one that could be quite expensive at that.
I tried to make soothing mother sounds as my daughter told of their dilemma, how this would affect their goals and how discouraged she was with their recent move to Louisiana. I didn’t know how to ‘make it better’ or ‘fix it’ for her but we talked for quite a while and she seemed calmer when we hung up.
That same evening, my cell phone rang again. Again it was my daughter but her ‘Hello,’ had a much happier ring to it. It seems that when my son-in-law got off work, he and his friend decided that they would drive a few back roads just to see if there were any burned out cars that might look like a Ford Taurus.
Sitting ahead of them on the very first road they turned on was a silver Taurus, not burned, just sitting there. It looked like theirs but it couldn’t be. As they got closer, they could see that it had Michigan license plates. Their car still had Michigan plates! Maybe it really was their car! Could it be? As they pulled up beside the car, they were jumping out to have a look almost before coming to a stop.
It was their stolen car! It looked ok! As my son-in-law again called the police to report the find, he was looking over the car. Radio, still there, CD player, still there, two cartons of unopened cigarettes, still there, $20.00 bill that was always in the visor in case of an emergency gas run, still there. Nothing seemed harmed. It looked as if the car had simply run out of gas and been abandoned. Not taking the time to gas up the car on the way home from work the day before turned out to be a very good thing. A full tank would surely have taken it too far away to be found.
They were thrilled that nothing was missing and they were also thrilled that there was something extra on the front seat of the car --- a man’s wallet. Yep, the thief, for reasons unknown had left his wallet, complete with identification laying right there on the front seat. What a proud moment for a wan-a-be car thief.
The police arrived, again after a lengthy wait, checked the car, took the men to get some gas so they could drive it home, and took possession of the wallet and promising that there was nothing to worry about. This man would be arrested and jailed before the day ended.
Problem solved. All is right in the world of my daughter and son-in-law once more..... Well, actually perhaps not.... Amazing as it may seem, this was not the end of the story.
About a week later my daughter was at a New Orleans gas station filling her tank when a pickup truck pulled up to the pump next to her. A young man got out, said ‘hello’, and proceeded to fill his truck. Noticing the Michigan plates on my daughter’s car, he asked if she was there on vacation.
“No,” my daughter answered, a bit leery of starting a conversation with a strange man, “my husband and I just moved here with his company.”
The conversation continued, “Where does he work, nice Pit Bull you have with you, I have two of them and we hunt boar together. Does your dog hunt?”
“Only cats,” my daughter replied, trying to be friendly but not TOO friendly.
Both pumps kicked off at about the same time so the man and my daughter walked inside the gas station together where he continued to chatter, “Do you think you’re going to like living here in good old Louisiana?”
“I hope we do, but our first impression hasn’t been very good because our car was stolen last week,” my daughter explained.
An odd look came over the stranger’s face as he asked, “You must have gotten it back? Is that it that you’re driving?”
“Yes, we were very lucky and very thankful that it wasn’t stripped or burned.”
“Did it have a man’s wallet in it?”
Well, what a crazy question to ask, my daughter thought, then a light bulb appeared, “Is your last name Sweeney?”
“That was your wallet?” At this point my daughter didn’t know what to think. Was she having a conversation with a car thief?
She was strongly considering bolting for the door when the man continued. “Yep. My wallet was stolen last week. What a pain to have to cancel all your credit cards and stand in line to get a new driver’s license. I figured I’d never see it again. Then the police showed up at my work with tasers and guns, to tell me I was under arrest for grand theft auto. Believe me I was nervous, trying to convince them that I was a victim, not a thief. I lost a whole day’s work sitting there in that little room waiting for them to confirm my story.”
At the end of the conversation, two strangers went their separate ways, each thinking that it is indeed a small world and that we are all truly connected with one another. And of course, ‘WOW, nobody will ever believe this one!”
As for me, my cell phone continues to spend each night in the living room, NOT the bedroom.
© copyright Donna Hale Chandler
LIFE HAPPENS (My Story)
BEGINNING TO BEGIN (Again
THE HINTS BOOK ALAMANAC