Sometimes It Isn't Futile
by Michelle Hakala
Harry comes home from work a little after 5 and says he has a moral
question. A what? (And he thinks I have the answer?)
"You see I brought the air compressor home."
Well, no. The truck is empty. I point this out to him, in case he
hadn't noticed it.
"Right. It fell out. On the freeway. Snapped the straps and fell right
out over the tailgate."
The freeway? Visions of "Rescue 911" or "Reality TV Unleashed" flash
across my mind. "Did it hit..?"
"No, it didn't hit anything. So I take the next exit, and come back to
pick it up, and there's two guys loading it into the back of their
car. So I stopped and said, 'hey, that's my air compressor.' 'Not
anymore,' one of them says back. It ends up they want fifty bucks for
it, because they had to retrieve it from the road and that was
dangerous. No way I'm paying fifty bucks for my own air compressor. I
wrote down their license plate." He holds up his hand and I see the
license plate written across his palm. "Do I call the cops?"
Hmmm.... What about Finders/Keepers and are we liable for littering?
I don't know. Eventually we decide to call the cops and ask them if we
should report it. The dispatcher says she'll send a car out.
Three hours later, a car shows up (we'd almost given up). They take
Harry's story (three times) and go over the possibilities with him.
(Does it surprise anyone that he gave a better description of the air
compressor than of the two guys?)
1) It wasn't their car and we'll never find them. If so, no action is
2) It was/wasn't their car and we find them, and they've still got the
compressor. If so, you want the compressor back.
3) It was/wasn't their car and we find them, but they've sold the
compressor. If so, are you willing to press charges against these
guys? It's a misdemeanor theft, based on the value of the compressor.
(Figuring the value took some work, because it really won't be worth
much if the pavement chewed up anything critical on it.)
Harry was willing to press charges and the cops left, with a promise
to call -- later that night if there was anything worth reporting, and
the next day if nothing, just to touch base.
Around 9 the phone rang. They'd found the car, and the compressor wasstill in it. The guys would give it back. We needed to meet the copsclose to the house, but not too close. (At the house?? Ack!)
We got an address and took the Tundra (yes, it's back, yay!) to go on
a bad guy hunt. Ever tried looking for an address you're not supposed
to find? It's not fun. "Well, let's see, the number is 4000 and we're
at 3300, how much farther can we go and still not be seen by the
target address?" Add in country road and nearly moonless night, and
it's the makings for a bad horror movie.
We got as close as I dared (Harry was willing to go farther but I was
driving) and pulled over, waiting, in the dark. Pretty soon Harry's
cell phone rang. It was the cops, wondering where we were and telling
us we could come on to the house. But keep our distance, they didn't
want a confrontation. (No problem there.)
We found the house and there's the car, with air compressor
overflowing its trunk, two cops, the two guys, a wife, a kid or two,
and about fifty neighbors looking on. Harry gets out. (I stay in the
truck, with it running. I've seen those shows... by God, if a fight
starts, I'm gonna run one of 'em over with the Tundra.) The group
talks. And talks. And talks. Felt like several years, but was probably
only a few minutes.
Then Harry and a cop put the air compressor back in our truck. We
left, and I went the wrong way out their driveway. (No use giving themany help finding us.) Harry told me on the way home that he'd askedone of the thieves to help him load the compressor back in our truck.When the guy looked at him like he was crazy, he explained he justdidn't want to scratch the paint on the car. There are definitely differences between "them" and "us."
The moral? I could say something trite like it pays to use the justice
system, or there sometimes is a cop around when you need one, but
really all I think is ... use new straps when transporting an air
Copyright 2013 Michelle Hakala