Friday, August 20, 2010
The Gift of a Car Prowl
This morning, The Lovely Wife noticed the trunk of our car was open. Sure enough, we'd been car-prowled. Both front doors were slightly open (that is, closed but not latched); the glove box and front- and back-ashtrays were open.
They didn't get much. The cellphone charger that I kept it between the front seats was gone, as was the hand-sanitizer in the door pocket, and the auto book in the glovebox.The registration and proof of insurance are still in the driver's-side visor and, although the trunk had been popped, the jumper cables were still there along with the little folding shovel I always keep for good luck (I've never gotten stuck in snow if I have a shovel!)
Annoyed but not terribly sad I filled out a police report online. It was a lengthy process, but seemed well-designed except for a bit of clumsiness in the way you specify what kind(s) of items were taken (a two-level set of choice boxes; generating well-structured data but not the easiest to use - for example, is a book personal or business property?) In the process of puzzling this out, I noticed that one of the things that might have been stolenwere license plate tabs. I went and checked and ... sure enough ... I had expired tabs!
Now, were mine stolen, or had I forgotten to renew? I checked my records and found that notices to renew both my personal driver's license and my car tabs came the same month, using the same graphics and layout; I must have assumed one was a reminder for the other and filled out only one. (That's a practice point in message design - give reminders for different things some clear point of difference!)
I immediately renewed my tabs online. There was a delay while I got an emissions inspection, which we passed easily (Superior Automotive really does keep the car running well!) Otherwise, the story ended happily: no ticket!
I should be grateful to the thief. Had it not been for the car prowl, I'd still be driving with expired tabs and sooner or later I'd have gotten a $250 ticket!
Life is strange!
P.S. Learn from my mistakes! Keep stuff out of your car, and renew your tabs, or be prepared to write your own "Don't Be That Guy"!