Our car was broken into in San Francisco. The burglar got Claus’s laptop and his laptop case, which contained important documents and backups of his photographs. The experience was bad and weird but there was an extra, super weird thing that happened right before we discovered the robbery.
We got to Golden Gate Park around two in the afternoon. We parked the car on a street just outside the park along with hundreds of other cars. The street wasn’t teeming with people, but couples and families with strollers were walking to and fro enough to make the parky-streety area as safe as an area could be. We locked all the doors and headed off to the Botanical Garden entrance a quarter-mile away or so.
Just inside the entrance, we walked up to the visitor kiosk and spoke to the friendly young fellow manning it. Golden Gate Park is not free (like all the parks and museums in D.C., take that!) and we were trying to decide if we should do it. We didn’t have a lot of time and it was chilly that day. Was the Japanese Tea Garden blooming? Was the Dutch Windmill up and running? Would it rain?
The young man told us that though it was overcast and chilly, we were in San Francisco, after all. He showed us a map and encouraged us to get tickets. “You’ll enjoy it,” he said, “I promise.” And then he said something else that, if I were writing a fictional story about a car break-in, no one would let me get away with it. They’d call foul on way too obvious foreshadowing.
“Where are you parked?” the young man asked.
“On the street out there,” I said, gesturing to the gate.
“Well,” said the young man, appearing to determine if his next comment was appropriate or not. He leaned in. “You might want to go make sure your car is locked up and stuff. There are a lot of break-ins around here, on the street. You might want to check before you go into the park for awhile. Just a suggestion.”
Claus and I looked at each other. Really? Break-ins on the street frequent enough to warrant a warning from the kiosk guy? In the afternoon? Wow. Okay, we said, we’d go make sure the car was secure and then we’d take our stroll.
When we approached the car, we couldn’t believe our eyes. The passenger side backseat window was empty. Did I not roll the window up? What am I looking at? When you’ve been burgled your first thought is, “There’s something wrong but my brain does not understand what that is. Standby.” In a few rubbery, wobbly seconds, we realized what had happened and I covered my mouth and Claus stood there, gazing through the broken window, blinking and not saying anything. We saw the absence of the computer. (Mine was under the seat and was missed.) And we suddenly had a plan for the day: return the rental car and get another. Commence insurance, rental agency, and police phone calls. Shake respective heads for the next two days.
The only consolation is that Claus’s computer was old and ran all Windows programs in German.