8 Million Stories: Dude, Where’s My Car?

Written by Kate Mooney on . Posted in 8 Million Stories, Posts.


MY EARLY DAYS in New York— roughly three months ago—I encountered a number of obstacles, to the point that I was living a comedy of errors.When I wasn’t reaching my "anger threshold" three-quarters into a run, I was struggling to find a job, training at restaurants for free and not getting hired. Crazy people were always talking to me. And then my car got stolen.

I went out to D.B.A.Williamsburg two weeks after moving to Brooklyn with a friend from New Orleans, who also lived in Brooklyn.We just hung out and drank beer, then made our way to Rosemary’s Greenpoint Tavern, which also reminded us of home, until it got late and I drove south. I found a spot on Parkside Avenue and called my boyfriend, chatting on the way to my apartment.

The next morning, hung over, I walked to Parkside Avenue but couldn’t find my car. I worried it had been towed again— as it had a week before, because I suck at life—and returned home to enter my license plate number on nyc.gov. Nothing came up. I made a big glass of ice water and prepared myself for the great car search.

I walked up and down Parkside, checking both sides of the street. Maybe I was drunk and actually hadn’t parked on Parkside? I called my boyfriend, who told me that I had mentioned Flatbush. Really? I strolled down Ocean Avenue all the way to Flatbush, then walked up and down Flatbush.These were the only three streets that I would ever park on, and my little Mazda was not turning up.

As any other reasonable person would deduce from the circumstances, I figured my car was stolen. I filed a police report, canceled my car insurance and bought an unlimited MetroCard.

Three months later, I was riding down Flatbush Ave in an Arecibo car, when I spotted what looked like my silver Mazda. I asked the driver to turn around and pull over.

"My car was stolen, but I think this is it." Intrigued, the driver got out of the car with me.

"Are you sure? Same license plate? You got to call police."

It was my car, all right. Parked directly across from the Prospect Park Zoo (which I still have not been to). It was coated with dust and pollen, and reeked of stagnant water. A few spaces down, the street cleaning sign read, "Tuesday and Friday, 8-9:30 a.m."

The driver dropped me home, where I picked up my car key—I had kept it, despite having given up hope this day would ever come—and my dog and I walked back to the scene of the crime. Phoebe and I hopped in, and I pored over the car’s insides while she sniffed reminiscently.

There were no scratches, hanging wires or broken glass.Turning the key in the ignition, I saw the gas light was still on, as it had been that fateful night. Ropes that I had used to tie a futon on the roof of my car and transport it from Williamsburg were still dangling from the passenger handles. The laminated map of Brooklyn I relied on then but now no longer needed still lay in the front passenger seat.

The police I met with an hour later assured me that nobody had touched my car, a reality I knew but was hesitant to accept.They laughed at me and told me now that I’d recovered it, I’d do best to get rid of it, what with my track record.

"See, you do have a charmed life!" exclaimed my best friend when I told her the news a few days later.We used the expression to deride Pollyannas we both knew who coasted through life by luck rather than merit.

"But I lost it in the first place!" "Still, you’re lucky you didn’t get a bunch of tickets." It was true—why wasn’t I relieved? I would rather my car really had been stolen than have its reappearance reveal to the world the moron that I was.

"Maybe my car fell into a black hole.

Maybe it went to Narnia."

I could be the first recipient of a spin on the Darwin awards: Survival of the Stupidest.

Maybe it was a cry for help? Selfsabotage in the face of overwhelming life changes? The need for an external manifestation of my internal struggle? I had to forsake New York as my scapegoat, because, as the saying goes, I was my own worst enemy.

You start to grow up the day you accept that you are not particularly special, despite what you may have otherwise been told coming of age as a middle-class youngster in America. But now I had to accept that I was in fact special all along, just in a way they never told me: special as in "special ed."

Because of never-ending red tape with Geico, I am still uninsured.The only time I drive my car is to move it from one side of the street to the next. I secretly wish it really would get stolen, just to drive home the irony, windshield-wiping away my shame the whole way. 

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