I think she was empathizing about my car being stolen. But it's possible she was using insurance company language for "Man, are your rates about to skyrocket."

"I hope you get your car back and that it's in good shape if you do," she said toward the end of our conversation.

"Out of curiosity," I asked, "what're the chances of that happening?"

"In all the time I've been here," she replied, "I've seen it happen once."

I didn't ask how long she'd been there. I was hoping she started the job that morning.

I had a friend drop me off at my wife's workplace to pick up our other car. I spent the rest of the day driving around looking for our stolen car. I saw it everywhere. But it was never quite it. It wasn't the right color. Or it didn't have Mardi Gras beads hanging from the rearview mirror. Or it didn't have a little love-tap dent toward the back on the passenger side.

The following afternoon, as I grieved alone in our big, empty house with no cool, dark-green convertible parked in front of it - my wife was with friends, our son was, too - the phone rang.

"Mr. Shahin?" the voice on the other end said, mispronouncing my name.


"This is Officer McDougle." (His name wasn't really McDougle. I've just given him a pseudonym so I can misquote him.) "Do you own a 1996 Chrysler Sebring convertible?"

"Yes," I replied hesitantly.

"With LoJack?"

Long pause.

"I'm not really a car guy," I finally answered. "Maybe it has LoJack. I don't know." I didn't want to chance that I wouldn't get the car back if I didn't know the right answer. Plus, I really had no idea what LoJack was. I thought maybe it structurally altered my car, jacking it up like those '70s muscle cars or bringing it down like a lowrider.