Spent last week at CES in Vegas. For those of you who don’t know, the letters CES stand for 35 Football Fields Of Flat Screens and/or Mobile Accessories. Actually, I really enjoy CES, but that’s a different post. For all intents and purposes, it was an entirely uneventful trip to Vegas: I ate and drank WAY too much, I slept almost none, and I came home with less cash than I left with. Soooooo, totally normal.
This story, however, is about what happened after I got home from CES.
Leaving Vegas, I was … beat. I spent the entire flight home having visions of being in bed by 9PM at the latest. Upon arriving home, the Geester had different plans. My mother had unexpectedly signed up to take Matty overnight, and Gia was ready to hang. So, visions of a 3rd grade bed time quickly exploded into dominos and Rock Band with a house full until after midnight. Don’t get me wrong, I had a blast, but it wasn’t what I had planned, nor what my body was equipped for.
My head hit the pillow shortly after 1AM.
I startled awake for an unknown reason a few minutes before 2AM. Once awake, I noticed the motion-detector driveway light was on (likely because it lights up the bedroom like a movie premier). Now, the driveway light is frequently tripped by cats and dogs cruising around, so the fact that it was on was not itself a reason to be alarmed. For some reason, despite wanting nothing more than to crawl under my pillow to block the light, I was compelled to get out of bed and take a look around.
This is why I will always spend up to the model with the moonroof. At first glance, I didn’t see anything out of the ordinary. Then I picked up some motion between our cars. I rubbed my so-so-tired eyes like a cartoon character and focused harder. From my view down through the moonroof of the Ridgeline (I’m one story above the driveway), it quickly became clear there was someone rummaging through the car, having entered from the passenger side.
My first instinct was to pound the window and shout. Then I thought that would just confuse him, because he is rifling through my car, which means he is a FUCKING MORON. My next thought (and this will be clearer for those who are familiar with the Tall Brown floor plan) was to run through the master bathroom out onto the deck where I could shout horribly insensitive threats from the safety of stairless Wide Brown.
Here is where parenthood might have saved my life. I had already taken a step toward the back door when my imagination said, “Hey. Tony. What if that guy has a gun and a mental disorder? Wouldn’t you rather watch him drive off in your Honda than, you know, those other things that keep you up at night?” I suddenly realized how glad I was that Matty was 35 miles away at my parents’ house.
So, I stood at the window for a second in my underwear, watching, in real time, as an intruder of uncertain sex or ethnicity decides what in my car is worthy to … simply claim as their own.
As quickly as I had come upon the situation, though, it ended. The perp stood up, silently closed the passenger door, and walked quickly up the driveway toward the cul de sac. I ran from the bed to the front of the house, but when I peered out the front window, there was nothing. I remember thinking, “Well, at least I’m getting hit by criminals who know how to stay the fuck out of sight.”
The next few minutes were a struggle. Once I was confident that the perp had moved on and the perimeter was secure, I casually got back into bed. Yeah, I know. My brain:
“I just … I just want to go to sleep. That’s all I’ve wanted since, like, Thursday. And here I am in my own bed, and my wonderful son is with his wonderful grandparents, which means I get to sleep until a lot later than if my wonderful son were here at the house. And that guy (or girl) was clearly just poking around for valuables, of which there are none in either car, I can assure you, so, joke’s on you, criminal scum! Anyway, if I call the police, I’m going to have to stay awake until they show up, then I’m going to have to stay awake while they’re here, and then, after they leave, I’m going to have to bring myself back down to where I can fall asleep. It’s after 2 now, shit, it could be 5AM before the cops get all their paperwork done and let me go. Frankly, I would trade a burgled car for 10-12 hours of uninterrupted sleep.”
I laid there for a few minutes, staring at the ceiling, feeble brain turning things over like a Kitchenaid mixer set to Don’t Offend, when, thankfully, reason came to the rescue.
“Tony, what if one of your neighbors witnessed one of their cars being robbed and didn’t say anything? What if this person is in the neighborhood for the next hour and eventually finds a laptop or a weapon or something that is used to make someone else’s life much, much worse and you could have prevented it by getting off your lazy ass and making a phone call? Better yet, picture the conversation with Gia in the morning. ‘Honey, I saw someone breaking into one of our cars last night.’ ‘… Uh … did you call the police?’ ‘Yeah, no, I was SUPER tired. Besides, I – ”
I got out of bed and called 911. I told the operator what [had] happened and he peppered me with several questions. When he was finished he told me that officers were already on their way and that I could stay on the line with him until they arrived or I could call him back if I saw a mouse or got shot or anything in between. He didn’t actually say that. He did tell me to stay inside and not to touch the car.
When I hung up the phone, I could hear police sirens, which was impressive. I was expecting to have to wait a long time given the lack of urgency of my call. “Let me get this straight, there is a man going through the CDs in your car and … judging you? WE’RE ON OUR WAY.” I placed the call at 2:07AM. A police cruiser drove by my house at 2:14AM. Color my tax dollars well spent.
The cop made a full lap of the neighborhood and then pulled in our driveway. He told me that petty vehicle thefts have been a big issue in the area for a couple months. The good news is that they seem to simply be lifting handles checking for unlocked cars and pilfering whatever they can get. There is almost never any damage to the car. There was no damage to my car, and the only [apparent] item removed was a cheap, aftermarket iPhone charger. The officer said several cars recently have had guns and laptops stolen.
I will not reveal the reason why our car was unlocked because I am a gentleman.
I chatted with the cop for a minute and then he bailed, presumably because this was all too boring for him, even by suburban Atlanta standards. Total time from 911 call to being back in bed: 39 minutes. Yet another reason Smyrna is a great place to live.
Get plenty of sleep and lock your car. Not necessarily in that order.