Performer: Temple of the Dog
Songwriters: Jeff Ament, Stone Gossard, Chris Cornell
Original Release: Temple of the Dog
Definitive Version: none
When we last were with Will at SportsFest 1998 in Philadelphia, we learned that he had found his car broken into and his bookbag with his best baseball cards, his boombox and his cellphone taken. We now join the story already in progress.
I went to the police and filled out the requisite forms, knowing full well that it wasn’t going to make any difference. This was purely for insurance purposes.
Then I called Debbie. I had to explain that her cellphone—this was back when not everyone had them—was stolen, so she needed to cancel the service ASAP to keep the thieves from stealing minutes. I was pretty upset and said because everything was running so late, I might have to pull off for the night.
I jumped on the Pennsylvania Turnpike and headed home feeling as though the entire trip was a waste of time and money. This wasn’t entirely true, of course. I added Frank Robinson to The Bat and bought a bunch of cards and other things that were safely and securely in my trunk. But I sure felt that way.
I noticed the sky getting dark to the West, and it didn’t take long to realize that it wasn’t from the sun setting but a storm rolling in. Great, this was just what I needed with a smashed-out passenger-side window.
I pulled off and drove around on country roads trying to find something I could wedge in my window—a box I could cut up, something. I didn’t find anything that worked, so I took my sunshade and closed it in the front and back doors so it covered the passenger window. It seemed to hold fast enough. It was make-shift, but it was better than nothing, and I didn’t feel like spending any more time than necessary in Pennsylvania.
I got back on the Turnpike. Between the late getaway, the length of the drive and the storm, it seemed there was no way I would be able to make it back, but I wanted to make it as far as I could before the storm hit.
It wasn’t very far. The storm hit full force soon after dark. The Pennsylvania Turnpike is a bad drive under the best conditions—through and around mountains and not well lit. With rain coming down in sheets, visibility was about zero, and semis kicked up tidal waves of spray. I kept going. It rained harder.
I pulled off, I don’t remember where, to call Debbie to say I wasn’t going to make it that night. Of course, I had to use a pay phone. I sat beside a gas station for a long time as the monsoon pounded my car. Then my stubbornness kicked in.
This weekend was a test of wills, and they call me Will for a reason. I started the car and headed back out on the Turnpike, alone. Not only was I going to keep going, I was going to drive all the way home. This clearly was a bad idea, but I reached my breaking point. Screw the rain and everything else: I’m going home.
Eventually, just east of Pittsburgh, the storm stopped. I had made it through, but I still had about four hours to go. It was 11 o’clock. I called Debbie to tell her I was on my way. She knew it was a bad idea but could hear there was no talking me out of it, so she pleaded with me to be careful. If careful had been in my vocabulary, I would have stopped for the night long before then.
The rest of the drive was uneventful. I even made up a little time, arriving sometime after 2. Debbie waited up for me, which was nice considering I still was pretty miserable—although too tired to be mad—about my stupidity in keeping my bookbag out in public view. If only I had stuffed it in the trunk …
Sure, I had left the car parked in the same place the previous two days, with items visible in the passenger seat, to no ill effect, but it still was a dumb thing to do. I beat myself up pretty good over it for a while.
A few weeks later, I got my cellphone bill and saw that, sure enough, the thief made a few calls to someone in Camden, N.J. I called the Philadelphia police to give them the tip, and they basically told me to call someone who gave a damn, and that was the end of that. At least Sprint took the charges off the bill.
Needless to say, but I’ll say it anyway, I never leave my bookbag in my car in plain view for any length of time. I’ve never repeated the carelessness of my actions in 1998, and I haven’t had a car burglary since. As far as the cards that were stolen, I since have replaced all but one—a 1957 Colavito at a good enough price to pull the trigger.
The good news is I no longer have revenge fantasies about the buttwipe who stole my bookbag, mostly because I convinced myself a long time ago that he probably was killed in a drug deal gone bad.
I love a happy ending; don’t you?