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Monday, September 12, 2005

the case of the disappearing car

Who steals a car in Menlo Park? Especially an old Toyota Camry with a cracked windshield?

I had a hamburger and beer at the Dutch Goose before going to work this afternoon. I parked right behind the restaurant, next to a large brown SUV. The hamburger was good, jack cheese, avocado, lettuce, tomato. I gave the employee a small tip and he was very friendy, offering me extra napkins and warm hopes of a satisfying meal.

I walked out back and seeing no light blue Toyota Camry in the four spots, I wondered whether the beer or the physics was responsible for me forgetting where I had parked. Eventually I convinced myself that the car was gone. My key would not operate any of the vehicles in the neighborhood, and none of the cars had my backpack with my laptop with all the work I'd been doing recently, or my new CD player with the mp3 CD I'd made of recently acquired quite enjoyable music along with other treasured CDs. I wondered if I was supposed to be angry or sad and how I would feel when the beer and physics wore off. I wondered how much a taxi to San Francisco would cost and whether my bank account could absorb the various losses.

I asked some workers across the street if they'd seen the theft. They said they hadn't.
I wandered around front and looked up the phone number for the Menlo Park police. I'd recently been asked by a neighbor to call the San Francisco police about some mysterious items that had appeared in front of our house. And along with reading a blog with favorable reports of the demeanor of some of the New Orleans police, I was starting to think that perhaps police are good for more than intimidating people into living submissive lives without questioning inefficient and inhuman bureaucracies.

I got the number and was typing it into my cell phone when I went back to the scene of the crime so I could give a more accurate report. Something was differnt this time, though. There was a light blue Toyota Camry parked in the last parking spot. A teenager was eyeing me suspiciously as he sauntered off with his bike. And a Mexican employee of the Dutch Goose seemed trapped between interacting with the teenager and walking back up the stairs into the restaurant.

So here is the punch-line. The employee was borrowing the busboy's car to go pick up his daughter. But he took the wrong car! It seems that his key worked fine on my car which he demostrated to me by opening my locked door. He was quite apologetic and offered to buy me a beer the next time I was there. I happily retired the thoughts of doom and got ready to get some work done.

That's the story. The teen-ager and the workers across the street had no role except to see me, a tall skinny guy look confused but probably not make much of an effect on them. I also think of the teenage girl with the shaved head I saw climbing a tree next to the Java Beach cafe yesterday. She fell and hurt her leg and asked someone from the cafe to bandage her up. Probably didn't see me. I just seem to be more aware of all the people out there living their independent lives- lately I've been intereacting with them in such peripheral ways.


ocg said...

Hmmmm.....Dutch Goose...had some nice beers in there once upon a time. Nice pizza place across the road (further up from the petrol station) too if I remember correctly.

Boaz said...

Welcome ocg, all the way from Dublin! What were you doing in Menlo Park?

I'm not sure I know the pizza place you're talking about. There's a good deli nearby, though. I'll have a look next time I'm in the area.


Anonymous said...

Okay, it has been a let me get it right. The Dutch Goose is located on the junction of Alameda and Avy Avenue. Lets say in the positive XY quadrant, the physical road junction being the origin. Directly across the road is a Starbucks? Behind which is a Post Office? This would be the positive Y but negative X quadrant. In the negative XY quadrant is a petrol station (Arco?). And further along Almeda, say heading towards SLAC on the opposite side of the road to the Dutch Goose (just along from the petrol station) is a small pizza shop. I don't know if they are still open. I hope so, but it has been about a year since I have been there. They had good at a good price and it was relatively close by.