This is a story about a man named Mike* and his stolen car.
Before you say anything – yes, I am actually writing about someone other than myself, which surprises me somewhat, too.
But when Mike told me this story – in two parts with a number of months in-between – I knew that I had to share it.
Now the reason that Mike has an * is because that’s not his real name. For once, I’m going to protect his identity and you’ll soon understand why.
Like me, Mike travels a lot for work. That means that our conversations are often truncated, but somehow we neatly pick up where we left off.
A while back now, Mike called me one night and asked of me a perplexing question.
“Where you home about the (something date) of (some month that I can’t now recall)?” he asked.
“I have no idea,” I replied so I checked my diary and then replied in the affirmative.
He then went on to ask if I saw anything or anyone unusual loitering around?
I may be protecting his name but it’s fairly obvious now that we may live in the same building.
“Well,” I replied, “our suburb and its inhabitants are quite unusual most of the time.”
“That’s true but it’s just that I’ve had my car stolen from out of my garage,” he told me.
I was a little confused, though, as the date that he’d asked me to recall was some six weeks in the past so I said as much to him.
“Ah, it’s a little embarrassing,” he said, “but I’ve only just noticed.”
You see, he’d been travelling so much that so didn’t really need his car and hadn’t checked the garage in the interim until this particular day. However, he couldn’t find the automatic door opener anywhere.
A garage door opening person was soon engaged to open sesame the door, he said, and the only thing that he saw was an empty space where his car had been some six weeks before.
“I must have dropped the door opener on the drive-way and someone’s stolen my car from out of the garage,” he told me. “Six weeks ago.”
I had to laugh just a little and question him on whether he needed a car at all given so much time had passed and he’d been none the wiser.
Then I didn’t see him for a couple of months.
“How did the insurance claim go?” I asked him when next I did.
“Ah, well, it went OK but then I cancelled it because, ah, I got my car back,” he told me.
“No one ever gets their car back. That’s awesome!” I exclaimed. “How did they find it?”
“I found it,” he said matter of factly.
Then he proceeded to tell me the second half of the story of the curious case of his stolen car.
A number of months on from the date when his vehicle disappeared from his garage, he received the statement for his toll road usage and decided to go into “super-sleuth” mode.
He scanned the charges and saw that his car had been driven on a well-known toll road many months before and then, well, nothing.
Mike looked closer at the toll charges and saw that it was for a road he knew very well.
In fact, it was a road that he travelled on frequently.
It was a toll road called the Airport Link.
“What?” I said as my brain started to think that the thief had stolen Mike’s car from the garage and then driven it to the airport.
But that thought process was overtaken almost instantly with a dawning realisation about what may have really happened.
“Hang on,” I continued. “Who was driving the car?”
“Me,” he said sheepishly. “I must’ve driven it to the airport and forgotten all about it.”
I laughed long and very loud, which he took graciously on the chin.
So it appears that on his initial return home, Mike had promptly jumped in an Uber while his car was securely and safely waiting for him in the airport car park, you know, where he’d parked it when he left.
It wasn’t until he couldn’t find the door opener – because it was in his car at the airport all the time – that Mike surmised that an opportunistic crook had stolen his vehicle out of his locked garage after fortuitously finding the automatic door opener in the driveway… or so the story became.
He’d only paid for a week or two’s parking at the airport, too, so he also learned that they don’t contact car owners for at least six months if vehicles are left there lonely and clearly forgotten. One has to presume so they can build up some nice bills in the meantime.
So the curious car of the stolen car came to its unusual conclusion with Mike’s wallet a lot lighter from the parking fees and his dignity perhaps a little bruised from the experience.
Taking a photo of where you park your car doesn’t seem so silly now at all.