"I've got bad news."
It was 6:00 a.m. Saturday morning. For some reason, the husband had awakened REALLY EARLY. On weekends, he often goes to Starbucks to bring me a latte in bed (which I really enjoy). He was already back. He'd only gotten as far as our driveway.
"Someone broke into both our cars overnight."
I'm awake now.
"The passenger side windows are smashed. They took your iPod."
Now I'm really awake. I put on clothes and survey the damage. It's still dark, but it's not hard to see the safety glass still crumbling in the car doors. Bits of glass are everywhere. I had thought that the alarms that came with our cars would go off in the event of a break-in, but apparently, that doesn't work if you smash the window on the passenger side. You learn something new every day.
My husband's iPod was also connected to the sound system in his car, but it wasn't taken. Weird, because mine is a discontinued pink mini, while his is a 30 GB video iPod. We conclude that they just didn't see it in the dark.
Gareth looks for the number for the police. It had been raining on and off all night (yet the cars are not wet; we think the theft may not have occurred too long ago). Our phone line crackles; this happens to us every time it rains. He looks for his cell phone -- then he realizes that he left it in his car and that's missing, too.
I call our cell carrier to report the theft. It turns out that a one-minute call was made on the phone (not by us) at 3:05 a.m. and another one was made at 5:07, both to local numbers ("Probably to another stolen cell phone," I grumble.) This information is available by logging into our account online; we print it out so we can give the numbers to the police.
The cops ask my husband for a physical description of HIMSELF. (WHY?? WE'RE the victims here!!) Age, height, etc. They also asked for one of me. When they asked my weight, I balked. NO ONE GETS TO KNOW WHAT I WEIGH. "About 150," my husband told them. I didn't argue. That's bad enough, but the truth is worse.
They take the report and the numbers from the cell account. We have the option of taking the cars down to Van Nuys division to get fingerprinted. "Is it worth it?" my husband asked. The officer on the phone was noncommittal. Gareth calls the number and finds out that no one is available to do it until Monday. We decide it's not really worth it.
I call our insurance company. Personal items taken from the car are not covered and with a $500 deductible on each car, there is no reason to file a claim, unless it turns out the damage is more than a broken window on each vehicle.
The things we had planned to do Saturday morning were forgotten. We spend the rest of the day trying to fix and replace what we lost. Gareth locates an auto window place that can do the windows that morning if we get our cars there by 9:30. My Volvo is the more difficult model to work with, so I leave first while my husband drops our daughter off at gymnastics.
In the light, we notice that the leather on our passenger seats has been damaged by the glass, and there are big, ugly scratches all over the leather on my husband's center armrest. My glove box had been pried open and now it won't shut properly. We may have to make an insurance claim after all. My car is a lease and it will cost me a fortune if I turn it in with anything more than "normal" wear and tear.
I call one of the other gym moms and arrange for Megan to go home with her after their training -- just in case we don't finish in time.
"I can't believe this! You live in such a nice neighborhood," she exclaims, as if now our street is tainted.
We've lived here over 10 years and this is the first time anything like this has ever happened to us. That's probably pretty good for a city like Los Angeles. Of course, until six months ago, I was driving an ancient, beat-up little Saturn. Not much chance of finding any valuables in that thing. My beautiful new Volvo (which has not been driven enough miles to qualify for its first maintenance service) might have looked like a big bullseye to these guys.
I make the observation that the crooks managed to take the two things I have (other than my husband and daughter) that give me the most pleasure -- my comfortable new car and my little pink iPod. I think about the Buddhist warning against becoming too attached to your possessions. Perhaps this is some kind of karmic reminder of what's really important in life.
I quickly forget about karma. We need to replace my husband's cell phone. The auto glass place is a couple of miles from a mall, so we take a little walk, arriving in front of the phone kiosk just minutes before it opens. We had been told by our carrier that since the phone was stolen, we are entitled to some kind of discount on a replacement. The guy in the store gives us three options: $69 with a 2-year contract extension, $119 for one year or $179 to buy a new phone without an extension.
We had not been planning on extending our contract any further. We've been with our carrier for about five years and we've been happy with them. Our entire family is with them and so our calls to each other are free. However, it seems like another company has been putting more money into their network, and we had all decided to let our contracts lapse so we have the option of switching.
The phone salesman was not willing to deal. A little sympathy to our plight may have made a big difference in our attitude, but this guy simply had no people skills. We walked out and called the cell carrier, who confirmed that our "discount" was contingent upon another contract extension.
We've been angry for some time over the way the cell companies lock you in to long contracts. I know it's the cost of doing business, that these phones are all heavily subsidized by the companies so you will pay for the service. I've calmed down a bit now and I don't care (especially since discovering that my sister broke down a month ago and bought herself a new phone with a 2-year extension). But my husband won't hear of it. That's a subject for a future rant.
Our next stop was the Apple Store. I half-heartedly suggested that I could live without a new iPod and was relieved when my husband insisted that we were getting one anyway. I'm glad, because my iPod wasn't just a way to listen to music in the car... It was an essential tool, making hated tasks like housework more enjoyable, allowing me to boogie to my favorite tunes, even when the rest of the family was watching TV, enabling me to catch up on favorite radio shows when I was stuck somewhere. And I loved the fact that it was a girly shade of pink.
But shortly after I purchased my pretty pink iPod, Apple discontinued it and brought out the Nano. I gotta tell you -- I think the Nano is a little bit TOO small. And even though it now comes in colors, I don't like them as much as the pretty pastel range of the Minis. Plus, an 8 GB Nano is the SAME PRICE as a full-sized 30 GB iPod with video capability.
So I ended up with a full-sized white one. I dressed it up with a pretty pink brushed metal and acrylic case (not pastel, unfortunately), and also bought a FM transmitter so I can play my music in the car again. And last night, I downloaded a couple of TV show episodes, so now I can watch them while I'm sitting at the gym during Megan's training. I'm sure I will soon love my new player. But I had been happy with the old one and hadn't had any intention of replacing it any time soon.
When I was a kid, someone once broke into our house while we were at school. I remember how violated the whole family felt, and this definitely feels the same. I cannot get over the fact that late at night, when everyone is asleep, there are strangers walking down our street, peering into parked cars. I imagine these guys carrying baseball bats and smashing the windows - oh, so carefully so as not to set off any alarms. I'm grateful that's all they did. It terrifies me that someone might try to break into the house.
Saturday night, I woke up at 1:00 a.m., after dozing off while watching TV on the living room couch. All our lights were on, and I considered leaving them on all night. I tried to, but couldn't get back to sleep. I reminded myself that it wasn't likely the same guys would come back again.
I turned them off and went to bed.