Thoughts by Richard Bleil
George mows my lawn. He fancies himself a handyman as well, but for me he just does lawns. He has shared with me that he has spent time in jail, although he never said for what. I should mention he is black, a fact that I normally wouldn’t report but it will factor into the post a little bit later but not in the way that some people might assume, and, no, George didn’t steal it.
As it turns out, today my 1997 Ford Explorer was stolen. This is the truck that helped me to rebound. I purchased it with the first Coronavirus check in its entirety. It’s quirky, and yet highly reliable. I have since put a little money into getting it fixed up and have taken it on multiple longer trips. With it, I managed to gather what belongings I had in Iowa and used it to work after an uncomfortably long unemployment. It helped me to get back on my feet, and I thought it might help George do the same.
Today, I have two additional vehicles, so I don’t need it any longer. I had been thinking about selling it when George asked. After a brief talk, we came up with a plan for him to buy it, but part of the agreement was for him to come up with a sum of money before I signed the title over to him. Until then, I decided to let him hold onto it. It’s kind of a way to let him test drive it, get a start on his recovery, and get it out of my driveway.
Today, George stopped by and told me that it was stolen. After hearing the story, though, I’m not really sure exactly how stolen it actually is. See, yesterday was George’s birthday, and I gave him a little cash to buy himself and a friend a birthday meal. Apparently, he and a friend went back to her place, and as he slept, she helped herself to the key and took the truck without his permission.
George apparently found out about it when she called her roommate and told her that she had been arrested. I don’t know why she was pulled over or what the charges were, but now the question becomes if the vehicle was confiscated, towed, or where it currently is at. However, George did insist that it had been stolen, and my mind began to wander as to whether or not we are talking about a narcotics charge.
In some states, if drugs are involved, the vehicle is simply confiscated. If this is the case, I may not get the vehicle back, but I’m in good shape even if I don’t. Heck, all it really means is I won’t have to pay for insurance for it. But I also want to be sure that my name isn’t tied up with suspicion of narcotics, so we called it in.
This is where we begin to see racism inherent in the system. See, we filled out a report on the phone. I’m embarrassed to say that I didn’t have my plate numbers. I had taken photos of all of my vehicle license plates so it would always be in my phone, but a week or two ago, the phone broke, and I lost the photos when I replaced the phone and hadn’t thought to take new photos yet. I do have the title in the house, though, so I could at least provide the VIN.
George is, unfortunately, not easy to understand. He speaks slowly, with a low tone and slurs a bit. We had the officer on speaker phone and heard as George relayed the story. Unfortunately, I live near the state border, and she was apparently arrested in the adjacent state. One thing that I had learned is that various law enforcement agencies do a very poor job of communicating with one another. Within the same state, a Sheriff’s office often won’t communicate with the Police department who won’t communicate with the Department of Motor Vehicles and so on. Cross a state line, and of course it’s worse. The police couldn’t look up to see if the vehicle had been towed because it’s a different state, so today I still don’t know if it’s in police custody, or if it has been parked until she secures her release, or if it’s been truly stolen.
And that’s okay, but when we voluntarily called the police department, George explained that he had been drinking and went to her house a little before midnight, and when he woke up, he couldn’t find the key or the vehicle. On reading it back, the officer said, “so you went to her place and at some point, you passed out.” This struck a nerve. It was around midnight, isn’t it reasonable to assume that he fell asleep as opposed to passing out? Yes, he admitted he had been drinking, but often when a man goes to a woman’s apartment, there are other things going on of a physical nature that I know makes me fall asleep.
So, my truck is, apparently, gone. That’s okay. But the inherent racism persists. That’s not okay.