This morning I got up for work, had a leisurely breakfast and got ready for work. At about 7 I walked to my car, parked in front of my house, where it has been parked overnight in the same spot for every day since I got it. I casually walked round the driver side, unlocked the door, went to the trunk and dropped my daily baggage inside, went back to the driver side, and climbed in. Just my normal every day routine. There was one difference this time however. I started the car, put it in reverse - and miraculously, nothing happened.
For a moment all sorts of thoughts flooded my mind - was the clutch faulty? Or was it the transmission? A faulty tranny? I put it in forward just to check. Nope, my little Mazda did not suddenly try to mount the pavement. So there I sat, perpelexed, until just a second later, a passer-by stopped by my window to tell me my front left front wheel was missing. Great. I got out to have a look - and true as nuts are nuts, the front left wheel was completely missing, the car resting on the brake disc. And there were no bricks under the car either - it seems the criminal mastermind behind this daring caper didnt deem such a courtesy necessary.
So there I stood, passing through surprise and mild amusement and rapidly seeing mild annoyance rush past me while turning into an early four-alarm rage. After all, what if they come back? Smarting from the insult to my pride and the integrity of my car, I considered buying an aluminium baseball bat and lying in wait for the sod responsible. Or camping out in the tree I park under using my ninemill as a pillow. Trouble is, you never know when or where these enterprising entrepeneurs will strike. And why did they only take one wheel? It occured to me that if they had taken all four, the insurance excess would have hurt far less that way. My car is a 2001 Mazda Sting, metallic blue, with the stock Mazda mags. Contrary to popular belief, they are not cheap to come by - or readily available. Such an item is well above the insurance excess on my policy, and from previous experience Mazda items are not easily available from the local breakers yards either. My insurer informed me it would be cheaper to source my own replacement and also to pereserve my "non-claim" bonus. I was seething.
I called the cops, decided to not hold my breath and duly informed my employer I was taking a days leave to sort out a replacement tyre and rim. Surprisingly, and to their credit, a police van showed up at the scene of this dastardly crime less than 20 minutes after my call to the cop-shop. No fingerprints were taken. A case docket was made out and the sleuths left ten minutes later, informing me I could put my spare wheel on now and get on with my so-called life. Upon their leaving I also mentioned to them that a few other inhabitants of my street had complained of similar losses sustained during the night. So much for Ubuntu.
Sighing and readying myself for a wasted search, dirty hands and a loooong day, I set about fitting the spare wheel. It was then that I discovered that the thief had also absconded with my wheel nuts. Why the wheel nuts?? Was it to hide fingerprints? Or did the genius responsible happen to lose his nuts as well as the rim? Sincerely wishing the perpertrators would suffer such immasuclating misfortune, and having fitted the slightly worn spare on a rather plain looking black steel rim, using one nut from each of the other three wheels - I set off to see my local tyre connection, who has a small selection of used mag wheels in his back room. "You want a whaat?" the man asked me as though I were looking for an Asgård beaming device. Right, so no luck there then. Following up a lead from the scrap dealer he referred me to, I contacted a certain Johan on his mobile phone who told me he happened to have not only one, but two such rims. I paid his small establishment a visit, paid the man 350 for the hastily cleaned semi-pristine mag wheel, and rushed back to the guy who fits tyres. (No, they weren't mine, I checked). Both he and his sidekick nearly went into shock when I arrived with said merchandise and couldn't believe that I had sourced one at all - let alone within an hour.
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New tire and fitment of rim including balancing, 363.00. Having done this, and still seething, I decided to make sure this wouldn't happen again. Still shorting four wheel nuts, one on each wheel, I headed for yet another establishment where I bought and fitted a set of imported German lock-nuts, nearly impossible to remove without the proper tool, or some heavy machinery, or perhaps at a stretch, two elephants and some fancy language. That'll f*** 'em. And me too - it cost me a little over 400 ZAR just to secure my wheels - never mind the fact that if they did return they could slash the tires just out of spite. Nice. Following this I decided it was necessary, seeing as my wheeled contrivance stands on the street at night, to finally fit an alarm. While I was at it, I decided, f*** this, and fitted a central locking system as well because of the large number of people I give lifts to at work - and that some of them must've been born in barns or churches because some of them never seem to lock the doors on exiting. Often I find an unlocked door - sometimes even the next morning when leaving for work. Enough was enough. Cost of the above upgrade? 2600 zar. Nice. Paying the man, while making joking enquiries about a number plate changing device while I was at it, I went home to sulk.
Isn't it amazing how the criminal mind works? Perhaps this considerate person or persons thought - "hey, I just need one wheel, she's got four of them" or, "Hey, she's got insurance, she won't feel it" or even, "If she doesn't have insurance, that's just her bad luck." What amazes me is the mindset behind this sort of criminal activity. If I or any other decent law-abiding citizen is in need of an item, we go out and buy it - we spend our hard-earned cash. But not them, it's just cheaper to go out at night and steal somebody else's. (This is presumably the origin of the slang-term "midnight spares".) In the end, what these brilliant affirmative-shoppers have forgotten is that I work for what I have - I paid for it - and in the case of that car - I am still working for it. And yes, I have insurance - but they either forget - or dont care a damn that I still have to pay an excess in order to have the privilege of claiming from said insurance, who are probably congratulating themselves that this is the second claim I have not filed in the last four months for the same reason.
In the meantime I will wait and see if said criminal masterminds return anytime soon, entertaining pleasing images of them tied to a stake so that I may throw wheel nuts at them as hard as I can, aiming of course for all the soft spots in the human anatomy - and laughing. Mwahahaha.