Monday, April 9, 2007

Lost Car - or Just Misplaced?

A Lost & Found classified ad caught my attention a few weeks ago: “CAR LOST Somerville metro area…” followed by a description, a license plate number, telephone numbers, and the notation “Appropriate reward!”

How embarrassing to not only lose your car, but then have to publicize it. But what keeps occurring to me is exactly how did they lose their car?

Often I have exited the Shop Rite realizing I have no clue where I parked. I have even consciously attempted to pay attention when I park, at least noticing which way the car is facing and if I am near a tree. As I leave the car and begin walking toward the store I try to line up my parking lot aisle with a door or a particular advertisement in the window.

If I am really paying attention it works, but so often I park and walk in while thinking of other things. Suddenly I panic as I am checking out and look out the front window across the vast lot and realize I haven’t a clue where the car is.

Usually I can at least narrow it down to the correct aisle and eventually find my car.

On those occasions when I have not picked the right aisle and walked half-way up the lot, I see my car in the next one and notice that there are no cross-aisle openings. This is the moment when you have to decide whether to just get your shopping cart as close as possible and then carry everything over to the car or admit defeat and, with others looking at you knowingly, push the full cart back to the end of the wrong aisle and back up the correct one. This decision may depend on how much stuff you have in your cart and if you see anyone you know.

A few times I have wondered if someone stole my car because I am so sure I am in the right spot and still can’t see it. Has that happened to you? It’s okay. It’s just between us. You can admit it.

As an alternative, you could just wait around until 11 p.m. when everyone else has left and your car is easy to spot. [But your frozen foods will suffer; trust me on this one.]

Now, back to the person advertising for their lost car. Choosing the explanation that they just forget where they parked it was based on my personal experience, but other scenarios occurred to me.

Maybe the car belongs to a senior family member whose memory just isn’t what it used to be. [No smart aleck comments now!] They drove somewhere and walked home forgetting the car.

Maybe the car was stolen. Maybe the repo man is looking for a way to collect his prize without going to look for the car. Maybe the owner thinks the repo man has his car, but he isn’t sure. Maybe a soon-to-be ex-spouse is trying to locate “their” car. It could be the driver was injured or a crime victim or became ill while they were out and the family can’t find their car. The police – or a stalker - are trying to locate someone.

Okay, all interesting and exciting theories. A good writer would have a field day with any of these ideas. But, personal experience still goes with a person of a certain age who just can’t remember where they parked that darn car!

Going back to the Courier News ad’s ”appropriate reward” – if it were my lost car, the reward would increase if the person who found the car didn’t laugh or ask too many questions.


An additional parking lot hint: Parking next to an unusual vehicle so you can locate your own car later doesn’t work. Invariably they will leave while you are in the store.

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