Today I am thrilled to be bringing you a guest post from my outrageously hilarious friend, Tara. She blogs over at www.twohandsandaroadmap.com, and if you are awesome (which you are) and like to laugh (which you do), you should definitely make her place one of your regular online-reading stops!
A story of redemption in Cleveland
Except not really.
There’s something about walking around Cleveland carrying several pounds of fresh fish in late July that makes you really not want to get your car stolen. Ask me how I know.
For a little background:
Some people around here get a little defensive when they see videos like this. Can you blame them? I know I can’t, and I’m one of the main people spreading the video around.
Anyway, Cleveland fans will tell you about our sports and our orchestra and our museums and our ethnic restaurants and the lovely seasons. These are things to be treasured, no doubt. But I’m not from here, and I don’t care about sports unless someone who exited my vagina is playing (and even then, baseball is out). And while our orchestra and museums are pretty wonderful, when the concerts are over and the museums close down, those people get in their cars and drive to their lovely homes. Which, more often than not, are not in Cleveland.
(Disclaimer: Clevelanders are loyal as hell. That is great. I admire their spirit. Please know this before you continue reading)
To outsiders like myself, there seems to be some kind of cognitive dissonance going on, like that of the mom who tells you how easygoing her toddler is as he’s beating another kid over the head with a metal spike that he pulled out of your garden. Similarly, you may have watched Browns football coverage, and seen people bundled up against a raging blizzard, and they’re enthusiastic and proud. Sure, they’re also drunk, but still. You might have wondered, “Are they all delusional or just hard-core fans?” Silly rabbit, that’s a false dichotomy. They are wearing what I fondly call “Cleveland goggles” and they give the city a warm glow of pride and positivity that is really wonderful admirable, even to those of us who don’t see it.
The whole point of this ridiculous amount of background is that inevitably, a goggle wearer mentions the West Side Market. This beautiful old building houses a few hundred vendors (totally pulled that number out of my ass, but it’s got to be close) who sell all kinds of food. I get it. The market is fun and has a great selection of produce, fresh seafood,meats, cheeses, and tons of other stuff. I used to like to go quite a bit. That changed in July 2009, though, after a heroic display of idiocy on the part of both my husband and myself.
We went on a Saturday. Translation: Insane crowds, happy Cleveland campers everywhere, and not enough parking spaces to hold them. The husband got frustrated driving around the market’s designated parking lot in vain, decided to go rogue and find some Cleveland street parking instead. (Feel free to pause here and watch the video again while evaluating his choice. I’ll wait.) Goggles. He was still wearing the goggles.
I grumbled. I breathed hard and muttered and wondered aloud why some people have lost all sense of perspective about what really matters. Maybe it was my grumbling and muttering that distracted me, so that I left my spare set of car keys on top of the center console, in plain sight of anyone walking by our maverick-y parking space. Oh yeah, that’s right.
I think we were in front of a check cashing place.
And maybe it was my husband’s irritation with my muttering that made him forget to lock the doors as we walked away.
(Are you starting to see that Cleveland is going to get the last laugh in this story? I hope so, because I really don’t like getting hate mail. Cleveland wins out over the cynic. Browns fans rejoice and set something on fire. The end.)
Several hours and many dollars later, we stepped out of the West Side Market into the hot sun, happy and smug with our urban-shopping selves.
Hey, how are ya? We’re just taking in a little of our wonderful local shopping. Keepin’ it real, keepin’ it local. Drove 12 miles away from home to buy tomatoes that grew in California, which makes this “local” in exactly zero senses of the word, but whatevs. Got my hemp bag and dirt-cheap produce and enough self-congratulatory feeling to power all the Priuses in a Montessori school parking lot. How about you?
The glow didn’t last long, though. Walking toward the car, we both noticed something was missing. (No, no, not the garbage on the sidewalk. That was still there.) My husband was the first to say it.
“Uh, where’s the van?”
Stolen. Along with some of my children’s toys, my library book, and what was left of my Cleveland goggles.
We spent a lot of time beating ourselves up over the idiot moves we made, but the real star of the show was the peach who saw opportunity and carpe diemed all over my fine Saturday afternoon. We suspected he wasn’t the shiniest penny in the till and possibly not about to be accepted into Mensa anytime soon. And we waited.
Two weeks later the story got even better, when our thief finally got caught after driving — drunk –right into two elderly people who were innocently sitting in their car in an East Cleveland CVS parking lot.
The van smelled like some industrial fluid and looked like this:
Not too good, right? Homey didn’t just steal the van; he trashed it too. We’re pretty sure the guy was using our vehicle to carry scrap metal. The middle row seats were shoved and tilted forward, the suspension was messed up, and there was all kinds of unholy crap scattered throughout it it. Take a look at some of the items he left behind:
Gloves, a piece of scrap metal, and A LOT of rocks.
The funny thing was, these gloves looked kind of dainty to me. Maybe we were wrong about him. Perhaps he was a geologist or metallurgist. Or a manicurist.
The blanket struck me as odd as well. I could see my husband putting down a blanket while hauling something to avoid messing up the inside of our van, but this dude didn’t exactly seem to have the “pride of ownership” thing working for him. I can only infer that he takes a chill easily.
And this line of thinking made me wonder if I wasn’t the problem after all. I mentally duct-taped my Cleveland goggles back together and tried to look at the rest of the van’s contents with an open mind. I tried, I really did.
Starting off strong:
A newspaper and many bottles of Pepsi: Readers are leaders!
Piles of our belongings shoved around: Throw away obstacles!
That’s my library copy of The 4-Hour Workweek. It would be much funnier if it belonged to the thief.
Invest in yourself!
Um . . . well . . . someone help me out here.
In the end I had to conclude that trying to find a whole lot of meaning in a stupid crime of opportunity was pointless. Whatever this guy’s issues or problems or dreams, it became less fun for me to joke about him when life had already done it first, and on a much grander scale. There’s no sense blaming my stupid choices, or the location where the event took place. I’ll tell you what, Cleveland: let’s call a truce.
Just, you know, maybe pick up some of the Hot Cheetos wrappers first?
I don’t take myself very seriously and neither should you. Check out my blog at www.twohandsandaroadmap.com for more ridiculous overreactions.