Things I’ve done: stolen a car!

In the run-up to Christmas I’m veering away from my usual posting schedule – no doors ’til the New Year. Instead here’s a post about something I teased you with in the responses to one of my recent awards.

You’ve seeen my picture, do I look like a car thief? Well appearances can be deceptive. Let me tell you about my joy ride in someone else’s car.

When it comes to driving, I was a late starter. I only learned when I absolutely had to, no sooner. I had always said that I would never have a company car. But as soon as I had that bit of paper in my hand, I went to see my boss, who also agreed to pay for my car parking space. This meant I could drive into work!

I’d learned to drive in a small Vauxhall car in central London and although I’d ordered my new company car, I had to wait a couple of weeks for its arrival. The company had one spare car still under lease that I drove until my new one put in an appearance. It was a silver, boxy turbo-charged Volvo with big rubber bumpers, perfect for a new driver.

I would drive to work early, drop the car off at the garage and go down the gym. The garage closed at 19:30 in the evening and, if I hadn’t picked the car up, they would drop it off outside the office and put the keys through the letter box. It was a perfect arrangement.

One Thursday, I’d arranged to leave « early » at 17:00 to do some much needed late-night shopping. I went to the garage to collect the car and when I arrived asked the caretaker where my car was, he pointed in the general direction of the exit. Well, I had mentioned I’d be leaving early.

I leapt into the car and drove off. The keys were kept in the ignition as cars were often parked several deep to maximise the space. As I drove towards the West-end, I thought the car felt a bit sluggish and someone had moved the position of my car seat. I’ve got short-legs so I like to sit far-forward and upright. It fact it didn’t feel like « my car » so I did a quick eyeball: mileage, leasing company sticker, A-Z in driver’s side pocket, umbrella on back seat?

I didn’t leave an umbrella on the back seat? Nor did I own the gloves residing in the glove box. It wasn’t my car, it was the right colour, right mark, but it wasn’t turbo-charged and there was just one different letter in the registration plate. I’d been so keen to get out of Dodge City that I’d driven off in someone else’s car!

This was well before mobile phones (1993) so I couldn’t ring the car parking garage to explain. I just had to drive back. An hour after I’d left, I was back in the garage. Of course, the caretaker had worked out what had happened. The chap whose car I’d mistakenly taken, hadn’t driven off in mine, he’d kindly gone home on public transport.

The caretaker had however rung my number and spoken to one of my colleagues so the entire office knew I was a car thief. The following morning, they’d knocked up a front-page newspaper article about the City Car Snatcher! I can only thank my lucky stars that the incident occurred well before the advent of social media!

Of course, by the time all this was sorted out, it was too late to do any shopping!