By Bill Beeler
God was there even when I didn’t listen to his messenger.
Sticking my head through the lace like frame that use to be my passenger side window, I was struck more with curiosity than shock. The cab of my two week old pickup was radiant in the morning sun. Sparking diamonds highlighted every nook and cranny. Glasses, maps, registration papers and star mints flowed from the glove box like fruit from a cornucopia. Morning dew clung to the rest of the windows forming a hazy frame like you see in some old tintypes. For a minute, I was struck by the beauty of the setting.
Reality took hold of my consciousness. Stomach spasms sent bile to the back of my mouth. My heart raced. “We’ve been robbed!” Some punk has messed up our vacation for a lark, for pocket money! That reality made everything look very different, very real.
The window framing my head was a useless, gaping hole. Hundreds of glass chunks swarmed over the seat waiting to ravage cloth seats, bare legs and thin clothes. Once neatly stored goodies were scattered without thought of their importance. Glasses critical for driving tossed carelessly. Insurance and ownership papers crumpled and scattered. Candy littered the floor.
My gait was a little unsteady as I went back to the room to tell my wife, Vennie, and call the police. The police ask me what was taken, only them did I think about what might be missing. In all of my fifty-two years, I have never had to endure a car burglary. You know how it is, the OTHER guy gets broken into. Well, this time it was me. Almost everything taken had more then monetary value.
While waiting for the police, I began to realize that we were blessed.
Yes, blessed in spite of refusing to heed my guardian’s warning.
Yesterday had been an exciting day first day for our trip.
Tired, we decided to find a nice place to stop. Just then, we saw a Best Western sign. They are usually nice, so we decided to pull off. Good, It had a restaurant. We didn’t care for the lounge, but they had all night security. We decided to stay. It was our lucky night, we got their last room.
With the pick-up unloaded and Vennie settled in the room, I went to park. Pulling into an overflow lot, I noticed that I was one of only three vehicles in the lot. My new truck and two older cars. To the front of me was the end wall of the motel. Behind me was some major thoroughfare. There were two security lights. One was not working, but the other was okay.
Turning off the engine, a rather deep male voice said, “Don’t park here.”
“Why not?” I asked aloud. Then I realized that I was in a closed pick-up cab by myself with the radio and air conditioner running. Laughing, I thought it must have been a part of the song. I just misunderstood the words.
Dismissing that nonsense, I secured everything. Camera, glasses, and extra tapes in the glove box. CB, and Vennie’s jacket in the back. Lock all the doors. With one last check, I placed my confidence in the guard on duty.
The Newport police officer explained just how lucky I was. There were probably three thieves, one in the back, one in the front, and one driving their vehicle.
New pick-ups in that area are usually stolen. It is much easier for the thief to steal the vehicle and then take it to a quiet place for a careful search and stripping. My truck was simply burglarized in the lot.
One thief worked the back. He popped open the topper by hand instead of using a pry bar which would have damaged the topper and tailgate. A bent latch bar costing $3.98 was the only damage. He was a big man according to the smudge mark his knee left in the dust on the tailgate. Reaching in, he grabbed my tool box, the plug-in CB, and Vennie’s wind breaker.
A second thief probably worked the front. He hit the window with something heavy, like a tire iron. The officer pointed out that kids or amateurs would have thrown a rock. It would still be inside. He hit the window hard enough to scatter glass all over the cab, but there was no damage to the window frame.
He took four cassette tapes, flashlight, and 35 mm camera from the glove box, but left four more cassettes in the organizer on the seat. He did not try to remove the stereo system and left my gold framed driving glasses.
The officer and insurance adjuster were surprised at the small amount of damage. I’m not. We were blessed. I think intercession was offered. I refused the offer. Maybe my Guardian Angel or Saint Christopher was there to whisper in the thieves’ ear that the cops were coming just at the right moment to minimize the damage.
There may be a blessing for the thieves too. The main event of that first day was visiting a little Baptist church just outside of Knoxville, TN. Beautiful crosses can be seen in the plain, frosted windows during the day. After dark, those crosses really glow. Our camera had almost a full roll of pictures of the church and crosses glowing in the windows. Maybe the person who has the camera got them developed. Maybe the crosses will have a message for him too.
One thing Vennie and I have learned, we are not traveling alone. The next time we hear a voice, we’ll listen.