One Good Thing
Strangers help to bring "Blondie" home
Every once in awhile — people rally. And this is a story about people rallying.
The story itself goes down rabbit holes involving a Grammy-winning rock band, a vintage car, hapless vagabond thieves, and surviving a week of epically bad car Karma.
I don’t know when I first “met” Susan Morgan on Twitter (@SusanBMorgan), but — even though we’ve never met personally, I feel as if I’ve gotten to know her.
Twitter can be like that.
I also can be like that.
Susan is a former journalist and a lifelong Alaskan — a place I’ve always wanted to visit. I enjoy reading her short-burst Tweets about everyday life in Anchorage. I learned from Susan’s dispatches that they had an extremely wet summer this year. [Every day I would hop onto Twitter and wonder to myself: Are we still with the rain in Alaska? I smiled when I read that the sun had finally come out. ]
Then — in a video Susan shared last week — I saw that the first snowflakes had started to fall. There. That’s better.
A couple of weeks ago, Susan posted a photo of “Blondie,” her son Eric’s 1980 Toyota Celica. Blondie is beloved, as all old cars inevitably are. And now Blondie was gone. Stolen, right off the street! NO! So sad!
[BLONDIE: TAKEN Where’s Liam Neeson when you really need him?]
Eric is in the band “Portugal. The Man” and Susan has that proud Mom thing going on. You can tell that she and the other “Portugal. The Moms” wouldn’t mind being roadies for the band, if only their sons would ask.
[Susan and son Eric, doing that beautiful and magnetic “head tilt” thing that mothers and their adult children do]
Susan and the other “Portugal. The Moms” didn’t get to go on the road, but they DID get to go to the GRAMMY AWARDS in 2018 when the band won for their chart-exploding song: “Feel it Still.” (Trust me — you might not recognize the title of the song, but I assure you, you’ve heard it and probably love it.)
[Take heed, you moms being driven crazy by the sound of your adolescents crashing their way through their first garage bands… one day you might be going to the Grammys!]
[Susan’s son Eric and his wife Kassandra (with their two dogs) at a recent exhibition of Kassandra’s paintings.]
[Eric playing with his band “Portugal. The Man.” The principal players met in high school in Alaska]
Here's a fun story about the band, including a video for their grammy-winning song.
But back to Blondie, the car.
I’m going to let Susan take it from here:
“My son Eric says this saga basically follows the plot of Pee Wee’s Big Adventure.
He was in Portland doing some things with the band he’s in, and pulled up to his hotel and parked at about 1 AM. He slept, had a good morning, went out to get in his 1980 Celica parked in front of the building, and… it was gone.
Hotel security footage showed a couple, faces clearly visible, stealing the car about a half hour after he’d parked it. The car, they call it Blondie, was a classic, with all original parts and in great shape. Eric and his wife Kassandra were heartbroken.
Between them, they know a lot of people, so started posting photos of the car and the details on social media. It wasn’t long before sightings and messages began to pour in. One person even got a photo of the car being driven down into an encampment. By the time Eric and his bandmate Zach drove by there, though, the car was gone. They befriended a gas station worker who said he’d seen it and promised to keep an eye out.
As the days went by, Blondie was seen all over the place, first being driven by the couple who originally stole it. Then the gas station attendant told Eric and Kassandra it had been traded to someone else for a motorcycle. Again it was seen driving around. Blondie was even spotted on a flatbed truck headed to central Oregon. Then she started being spotted around Vancouver. This turned out to be the third set of people “owning” Blondie, and this couple actually paid $300 for her.
But by the time messages about sightings got to Eric and he called the police, the car was always long gone. It was starting to look pretty hopeless, since everyone assumed Blondie would be taken to a chop shop and dismantled.
By now lots of people were invested in Eric and Kassandra getting Blondie back.
[Eric and Kassandra with Blondie — pre-theft]
Just a few days after she was stolen, that Thursday, Kassandra was driving the couple’s other car, a new Toyota Rav 4, when another driver failed to yield and slammed into her in Tacoma, Washington. She’s ok, thank God, but the car was totaled.
It had been a very bad week as far as cars were concerned, but they chose to be grateful — grateful she hadn’t gotten hurt and grateful she was in a new car with tons of safety features.
The car did its job, they said.
Meanwhile, Blondie was still gone. Strangely enough, the day before she was finally recovered, Portland police pulled her and this third set of people over. And then let them go!! It seems somebody misread the police report and thought just the plates had been stolen.
But the next day, the couple was apparently trying to leave a park in Vancouver, couldn’t figure out where the road was, and drove it down a walkway, getting stuck on a dead end trail. Or couldn’t turn around or something. I’m fuzzy on that. And that’s when Vancouver police found it, realized it was stolen, and called Eric and Kassandra.
The car is in amazingly good shape, some scratches, broken lens, small dings and dents on the fender, and the steering column is ruined. The thieves had been starting it with a screwdriver. Blondie is now home and happy. They’ll replace the parts (not easy finding 1980 Celica parts!) and be driving her again soon. Doesn’t sound like anyone’s been charged yet, although hotel surveillance has good footage of the faces of the original thieves.
All told, Eric said he got more than 300 messages from people thinking they’d seen the car.
People rallied, he said.
Blondie was gone almost exactly a week. She was stolen at 1:35 a.m. Monday, Sept. 26, and found Monday Oct. 3 around 10-11 a.m.
“We are so grateful for everyone, but wow what a week,” Kassandra added.
*Every once in awhile, people rally. Strangers do kind things. Beloved lost objects are found.
I hope that this week you have people rally round you, recover something fine that was lost, or simply enjoy the sun coming out.
As always, if you’ve read and enjoyed this story, please shoot me a “heart” below. And please — do share your own good things!
Love this story! People helping people 💗
I know someone who had her car, "Carmine," stolen from near her New Jersey home. Weeks later, she was in Brooklyn on business when, lo and behold, there parked on the street was Carmine, looking no worse for wear! She called the police as to what she should do to recover her car. The advice from the police was to simply drive it away and consider it reclaimed. She called her husband to bring her the keys, never taking her eyes off the car while she waited. In the interim, no one came near the car, and she did drive it away without incident. She always said she was sure that God sent her to Brooklyn to reunite with Carmine.