Thursday, August 18, 2011

I’m Steve And I Stole Your Prius Day!

You got a letter in the mail this morning from a guy named Steve. He says he’s the guy who stole your Prius back in March. He says he isn’t sorry he did it, not that it would matter because why would you forgive him. But he wanted to write to you to let you know who he is, and to send you a picture of himself. He realizes that sending you a picture of himself could put him at risk of being apprehended but he claims he lives far enough away from you that he’ll take his chances.

“Stealing your Prius was the first crime I’ve ever committed, and I wanted to explain why I did it,” the letter goes on. “I saw it sitting there outside the grocery store with the engine running and the door open. You had run back in to get something. Probably an item you purchased but left at the checkout. Taking a guess.

"Anyway,” he writes. “I decided then and there that maybe if I steal your Prius I’ll force my life in a direction that might lead to me changing the way I interact with the world. A car theft might lock me into some desperate situations that I’ll have to confront head-on in order to remain a free man.”

“Confronting things head-on is not what I normally do in life. I’ve usually felt as substantial as a ghost. When I meet someone new I feel like the person I’m meeting is already directing his attention to the memory of someone else with whom he’d prefer to be speaking at that moment. Before I release someone from my handshake, I’ve been forgotten. Up until I stole your Prius I felt I had lived my life with absolutely no impact on anything or anyone in this world.”

“So I’m writing to you to let you know who I am, and to let you know I stole your Prius. Though the theft didn’t do much to change my soft-spoken, quietly trod path through life, it did mean that I had an impact on someone. You. I inconvenienced you. I made you speak to the police and drive a rental provided by your insurance agent. Perhaps you even took the bus and developed a racial prejudice based on an assumption you’d made about my ethnicity. I did that to you. I am important to you. Which means I might have no stronger bond with anyone than I do with you.”

There’s a PO Box for you to write back to Steve. You dictate a letter to your home health aide to tell Steve the story about how you walked home after your Prius was stolen and got hit by a drunk driver, losing the ability to walk. You start to get weak as you dictate the part about your wife leaving you for your physical therapist, but you summon the strength to finish. You end on a congratulations to Steve for his newfound “impact” and you tell him you hope you and he can meet in hell one day. You ask your home health aide to mail the letter right away, but she doesn’t bother to mail it at all because she thinks her job is to help you get to the bathroom, not mail your letters, and if she starts acting like your secretary you’ll think it’s okay to continue treating her like one.

I’m Steve And I Stole Your Prius Day!