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What happens when you don't call in sick


Friday June 10, 2001,

9:50 AM: Ken, the Purchasing manager at work came into my office and asked
me if I had people coming to take my car away. This is an unusual question.
I asked him what he meant. He said that some large Hispanic fellows got out
of a beige Ford Taurus with a small saddle hanging from the mirror, and they
made off with my car in a matter of seconds. My prized 1988 Olds Cutlass,
which I had just washed the day before. He was unsure it was my car until it
was driving away, when he recognized the bumper sticker. Ken and I tried to
go after both cars in his little red subcompact, but the car was already
gone. Ken says he got a good look at the person who got into my car, as this
person glared at him for a moment.

I called the Phoenix police crimestoppers line to report my car stolen. The
first question was "What's your license plate number?" I did not know. The
officer asked why. I responded that usually when I want to know my license
plate number I go out and look at my car. Then he asked, "What's the VIN
number?" I did not know that either, as it is generally 16 digits long, and
I am not in the habit of memorizing every long number that comes down the
pike. He asked me if I could get the VIN number off my insurance card. I had
a hard time explaining that the insurance card is in the same glove box as
the registration. He got my name and social security number and said he
would call me back. He called back and asked more questions, such as which
way the vehicle was going, the purchasing manager's date of birth (he would
not speak to the purchasing manager because "the detectives can do that"),
and how many miles were on the car. I will certainly remember to write down
my exact mileage in the future. I asked if an officer would be coming out.
He said no, these things happen too often to send a police man out.

I rented a car and came back home. At about 4:00 I got a car from the
Phoenix Police department, saying my car had been found. It was at the Turf
Paradise Horse Racing Track, less than 2 miles from where it had been
stolen. When I got to the car, the police officer at first thought I was the
person who found the car. When I explained that it was my car he said I
could not go near it, as they crime lab would be taking fingerprints off of
it. The people who had taken the car went to the nearest Bank One and made a
substantial withdrawal. With Guns. They left bullets on my front seat, and
on their way out of the bank they had dropped stacks of $50 dollar bills.
They then dumped my  car at the racetrack, and left their pantyhose masks
and the screwdriver that they used to start my engine after cracking my
steering column open like an Easter egg. My car, which had a full tank of
gas when I left it, had been running in the parking lot for four hours when
it was found. It now had three quarters of a tank, but the trip meter showed
that it had not gone more than a few miles. The fleeing criminals apparently
did not have time to turn off the engine, as they were busy removing my car
stereo, sunglasses, CD player, and 27 CDs in a CD folder.

The track security guard who found my car was curious about an empty car
sitting in a vast, empty lot and came over to find it running. He figured
that maybe there was a body in the trunk. He called his supervisor, who was
at the bank when it got robbed and recognized the description of the getaway
car. I arrived at the track at 4:30, and the mobile crime lab had just
gotten there, which meant that I still could not go near the car, so I went
to buy a six pack of water and a disposable camera. I correctly guessed that
when it is 100 degrees and humid, the police tend to appreciate a free
bottle of cold water. The officer on the scene was wearing latex gloves, and
his hands were getting marinated in their own sweat. The crime lab lady took
several good prints, most of which are certainly mine. I wonder how long it
will take them to match to my prints in the FBI file for when I applied for
a Colorado Gaming license and when I got a job at the bank. The officer said
that one of the 4 suspects had already been caught, but there was still only
a slim chance that I can recover the car stereo, CDs, sunglasses, and CD
player unless I have serial numbers.

After the fingerprints and pictures were taken, along with several plastic
bags of evidence, including pantyhose (many different colors), the
screwdriver, bullets, and some of my empty CD cases which could have been
touched in the course of the robbery, the officer showed me how to start my
car with a screwdriver. Luckily my trunk had not been opened, so I still had
the toolset I purchased three weeks before when I got stranded in a
neighborhood where the 7-11 store was also the best place to pick up
shopping cart crack whores. At least the homeless people and the crack
whores had maintained a balance of watchful curiosity that kept my car from
getting assaulted on that date. The officer explained that my car was taken
because it was the easiest to steal. He also said that I might want to get
my steering column fixed, because usually if a person gets pulled over with
a cracked open column and a screwdriver on the dashboard, the police are
extra careful. I would certainly hope so.