…Catalytic converter, that is. And I wasn’t alone. According to neighbors, at least two other cars on the block were also hit on the same night. Have you ever driven a car without a catalytic converter? Sounds like a herd of elephants running alongside your car.
UPDATE: Am I just the luckiest guy alive, or what? When I first contacted the auto repair business about the delivery time for a new catalytic converter, I was told it would be four to six months. It seems I wasn’t the only unlucky person to end up in catalytic hell. Well, in a matter of days of turning in my car and picking up the rental, the call came. My car was going to be ready because they had found an aftermarket converter. I was there quicker than the time it took to saw off my CAT and immediately took it to a muffler shop to have them install a CAT shield. Yes, the universe came together. Shout out to my insurance company, the Auto Club; the repair shop, Crash Champions; and the muffler shop, High Flow Muffler.
Whoever said that misery loves company doesn’t know my misery or that of my neighbors. It is a pain of inconvenience; I am pissed and feel violated. I’m not alone, and I don’t mean just my neighbors. State Farm Insurance company reported in a newsletter last October that “auto claims data reveals continued surge in catalytic converter theft.” According to CARFAX, which provides vehicle data to individuals and businesses, the U.S. Department of Justice recently announced “that a combination of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies took coordinated action against a “national network” of people” who were involved in thefts worth tens of millions of dollars. Well, you can add my CAT to the pile of money. Yes, I reported it to my insurance company and the police, but all that does is add me to the statistics, and there is no pleasure in that.
One of my neighbors whose CAT was stolen lamented, “Hell, we could have just given them the money” and not suffered all this hassle. Funny, I don’t feel that way. I feel like an organized ring of thieves violated my space and time; if anything, they owe me compensation and an apology.
I’ve been robbed twice before in my life (not counting when I was roughed up in St. Mary’s Park for my raffle money when I was twelve years old). It was a burglary of the house in Washington, D.C. I was living with two other people. Long story, they didn’t steal much except some gas cards and expired credit cards (they did miss the pound of cocaine in a picnic basket. Come on, I’m just kidding). Strangers, we assume, broke into the house through a window under the front porch, busted the basement door to the kitchen, and ransacked the house in search of whatever. That’s right, not once but two times. Aside from the psychological pain and the inconvenience of repairs and police reports and not sleeping well for a few nights, the more incredible feeling was violation and questions about why. Could the thieves have just knocked on the front door and asked, “Listen, we’re thinking of burglarizing your house tomorrow, and we’ll probably do some damage in the process, which will cost you a shitload of money and inconvenience? Say, you give us the cash value now and save yourself the misery.” Now, that’s forward-thinking.
You ever hear the old saying, “A neo-conservative is a liberal who has been mugged by reality?” Supposedly said by Irving Kristol, who has been described as the “godfather of neo-conservatism.” Well, I’m not changing political parties or philosophies any time soon, but I am always intrigued by the human condition. Why do humans continue to F- over their fellow humans, pummeling them monetarily with everything from billion-dollar Wall Street Ponzi schemes to cybercrimes to stealing catalytic converters?
Now, I know it sounds like a naive question but don’t tell me you’ve never once thought about it. Or that you weren’t taught the seventh commandment, “Thou shall not steal.” Or if you as parents haven’t taught your children not to steal. Okay, maybe, in the back of your mind, you might have added a couple of exceptions to the rule. You know something about who will ever know if you keep it to a small amount. You steal it from a friend, or maybe you steal from your multinational corporate employer (hell, they got plenty of money). Okay, you didn’t report that thousand-dollar Superbowl bet you won (the government has plenty of your cash already). I mean, is it thievery?
Author and University Professor Sheila Kohler wrote an article for Psychology Today, “Why Do People Steal?” with the sub-heading “Some people feel it’s their right to steal.” In the article, Kohler uses some examples of stealing that seem rational. The adult casually takes a “box of Kleenex from a hotel room, and some might even purloin a towel or a bathrobe, thinking most probably: I’m paying enough for this hotel room.” What kind of parents did they have? Or the people who sometimes steal because they are hungry and their children are hungry, and the world is cruel, and you have to do what you have to do to survive.
Kohler even quotes Socrates, “that no one knowingly commits an evil action, evil is turned into good in the mind.” According to her analogy, thieves convince themselves that they have a right to the object they desire, “He needs it more than the other does. It is rightfully his.” Well, I tell you what, I need that catalytic converter more than the thieves do. I’m facing the prospect of having no car for four to six months and juggling the use of my wife’s car. Doesn’t sound like a fair deal to me.
The idea that someone else or even you or I am entitled to something that doesn’t rightfully belong to any of us doesn’t seem like a nice thing to think. Throughout human history, we (as human beings) just have looked for any excuse to take what we covet because we believe it’s ours and F- the other person. Maybe, that’s the problem. It’s the rationale behind wars, Imperialism, colonialism, genocide, Ponzi schemes, petty thefts, and stealing my damn catalytic converter.
Next time, knock on my door and ask me for the cash. I’ll be waiting.