Every time I think I’m doing well, that I have a college education, a white collar job in an office building, even my own business cards, that I’ve narrowly escaped my white trash fate…well, THEY KEEP PULLING ME BACK IN.
Yesterday morning, my girlfriend and I woke up, had coffee, and kissed each other good bye. She was going to use the car, and I was going to ride my bike. She called moments after going downstairs and asked, “Hey, where’s the car?”
“What do you mean? Isn’t it exactly where we parked it last night after we came home from Spill the Wine?” [Note the classy wine bar where I spend time with my classy friends.]
“No it’s not.”
I went downstairs, and she was right, my 1990 Dodge DyNASTY was not parked where I left it after coming home. It’s a rustbucket piece of shit; why would somebody steal it? There weren’t any street cleaning or tree work signs, there wasn’t broken glass (not that there’s a functioning lock on the driver’s side door anyway). It really was gone. I called the city of Minneapolis, and asked if the car was in the impound lot. Nope. They asked if I wanted to report it as stolen. Sure. They tried to transfer me. “Sir, the Stolen Vehicle Department is really busy, can you call back in an hour or so?”
A couple hours later, at the office, I tried to call the Stolen Vehicle Department again. No dice. I waited another hour. It was around four at this time, and I called again. Nothing. So I called the impound lot again. The queeniest impound lot receptionist of all times took my call. I explained to him that I was having a helluva time getting through to the Stolen Vehicle Dept. “Your car got stolen? That’s so sad.” I agreed. “They are so busy down there, but let’s try again.” My chipper receptionist was the most proactive voice I’d heard all day. “And I’ll tell you what,” he said. “I’ll hold with you. How does that sound?” Fierce. He got me through to the dour-sounding Stolen Vehicle lady and she asked me make and model and year and where it was stolen and all that, and then she told me she was sending a squad out to ask me the same things over again. She took my cell number and told me the squad would call when they arrived.
They never did.
Cut to this morning. My dad called me at nine and told me that Jeff at the Midwest Hotel found my car.
He told me to call Jeff at the Midwest Hotel, a flophouse on University and Vandalia by the Dubliner Pub. I called Jeff. He told me that he was working the desk that morning, and this Mexican guy that had been staying at the Hotel for the past five days boasted that the Dodge Dynasty in the lot was his girlfriend’s car. But Jeff thought the guy sounded suspicious–“didn’t speak much English”–so he checked it out, and my proof of insurance and my dad’s phone number were in the front seat. So Jeff called my dad. “And I drive a Dodge Dynasty myself, so….” I told Jeff I would be there in an hour.
For all the millions of new StephenHero readers out there, my daddy is a retired truck driver who lives in White Bear Lake and takes care of my sister’s kid full time. My dad and his charge, Ashton, were supposed to go to the Twins game this afternoon, but he told me he had time enough before the game to come get me and give me a ride to this crackhead flophouse.
I met Jeff in the parking lot. He was a forty-something white dude, in jeans and a t-shirt, with greasy grey hair, smoking generic cigarettes through yellow teeth and scratching the homemade tattoo on his arm. “My boss wanted to tow the car, but I thought there was something funny about the situation,” he said. “And ‘course, I drive a Dynasty myself.” He pointed at it with pride. “There it is, the white one, behind the hotel.” I thanked him and turned my attention to the brown one in the lot. I walked over to see how they had massacred my boy. The plastic around the steering column was ripped away, and a screw driver had been used to start it. My dad climbed in and showed me how to use this technique, since it’s probably not going to be worth taking it to a garage and having the steering column rebuilt. (May I just say, fuck.) There was a hamper of dirty laundry in the back seat, and an unopened box of Corn Chex on the passenger side floor. Jeff leaned in, “I think the white woman who stole the car is still up in 25 with the gentleman who’s renting the room.”
I was pissed. I mean, it’s a piece of shit car, but now I was going to have to drive it around with a screwdriver while this Chex-eating Goldilocks was up sleeping off her dimebag in room 25? I didn’t care that my 22-month-old nephew was running around the parking lot while some creepy old homeless dude was going through the Midwest Hotel dumpster looking for aluminum cans. This was bullshit. So against my better judgement, I called 911. I talked to the Minneapolis dispatch. I told her the story. She asked me if I knew the woman that had stolen my car. I said I did not. She told me the car wasn’t even reported stolen and that I had to call St. Paul because the Hotel was in their jurisdiction. I told her that I had tried to report the car stolen all day yesterday but that the department hadn’t sent a squad to take the report. She asked why wouldn’t they have sent a squad? I called the St. Paul dispatch. I told her the story. She said she had to call Minneapolis and then she would call me back. Ten minutes later, the Minneapolis dispatch called me back. I told her the story again. After accusing me of “not telling her everything” she told me that I would have to make a new report and call back. At this point, Jeff came out to the parking lot again and said that it was getting close to the end of his shift, and that he had to go work his second job scrapping metal in an hour. Finally, I called St. Paul and told her that the SUSPECT WAS UP IN ROOM 25 AND FOR CHRIST’S SAKE WHY WEREN’T THEY DOING ANYTHING ABOUT THIS? She said fine, she would send over a squad.
While I was waiting, I tried to regain my genteel composure. I slipped Jeff a $20 tip for his trouble. He explained that the Hotel has a reputation. “Hey, I’m sorry about this. I just hope they don’t treat you like you’re associated with the hotel. St. Paul considers this a ‘problem spot’–there’s drug dealers and fights and whores out in front all the time–so they’re not very quick to send over a squad. One time, I was held up at gun point, and they didn’t send anybody for 45 minutes.”
A strapping, blue-eyed, crew-cut St. Paul stormtrooper stepped out of his prowler. After a couple of piquant remarks about my poor disfigured Dynasty he asked, “So you don’t know any of these people, sir?” No. “So how did they get your number?” I pointed at the proof of insurance and the other piece of paper with my dad’s number on it lying on the passenger’s side. The cop turned his attention to Jeff. Jeff told him about the braggadocious non-English speaker and his girlfriend in room 25. “Somalian?” the cop asked. “Nope,” Jeff said. “Mexican, I think.” The cop called backup (sweet) and told us to sit tight. In about two minutes another St. Paul cop on a motorcycle showed up. Alright, finally, there would be justice! These wanton bitches were going down and I would be righteously, deservedly, elevated above the unwashed!
Nope. The cops came down and told me the other lady had fled and there was just a black chick left in the room. They told me that I could just take the car, since it was never reported stolen in the first place. (Right.) Oh, and that I should check under the seats for drugs. (Solid advice.)
I put the laundry hamper full of dirty whore clothes and the Chex Mix on the curb, started my car with the thieves’ screwdriver, and we were all pulling out of the parking lot, when a black lady came running out of the Hotel. “Hey! Hey! Can you please pop your trunk?” I sighed. I really think I sighed. Audibly. “I left some of my stuff in the back.” I popped my trunk and got out of my car and rolled my eyes at the cop. I pulled another laundry hamper with this chick’s shit out of my trunk–there was even a framed photograph of this woman in there (evidently, from better days)–and handed it to her. “Thanks,” she said.