What could possibly go wrong?
From Ron’s point of view, it was easy pickings. An impatient driver had left his car parked near the entrance of the 7-Eleven with the keys in the ignition and the motor still running.
It only served him right if his car got stolen; the nerve of some people putting temptation in the way of innocent and unsuspecting miscreants.
It wasn’t Ron’s fault that the spate of recent car-jackings had grown to astronomical proportions over the past several months. He, personally, had never stolen a car before, but now . . . well, the situation was almost too good to pass up. I mean, if you’re gonna present an opportunity like this on a silver platter, it was only natural that some gullible soul, like Ron, might be tempted to indulge his impulses. It exceeded all expectations of logic to just leave it there. He felt like it was his duty to take the car for a little joy-ride, and thereby teach the foolhardy driver a lesson in security.
It was tempting to the point of being compulsory. Could the driver possibly be that dumb? The daily news cycle was full of stories lamenting the rise in car thefts, but still some hick walks into a store and leaves his car running and unattended for anyone to steal.
Well, not just anyone. I mean, Ron wasn’t your run-of-the-mill smash-and-grab kind of thief; he was more the pick-and-choose type. Once he had pilfered a pretty nice Movado watch when a careless sales clerk turned her back for only a moment. It was easy-peasy back then, and it would be just as easy now to swipe this old heap. And why shouldn’t he? Like they say, when opportunity knocks . . .
To be sure, the car was no prize; a ten year old Chevy that had seen better days. No self-respecting professional car thief would look twice at it. Then again, how often does fate hand you a golden opportunity like this?
Peering past the multitude of advertisements plastered all over the front windows, Ron took a peek inside the store to check on the driver’s whereabouts. He didn’t want to be captured in flagrante delicto¸ so to speak. Besides, it was only a little joy-ride; something to break up the monotony of his day, and this was as good a moment as any. Really now, when you don’t even bother to shut your car down while you dashed into the store, you got what you deserved.
Ron glanced around to ensure no one else was watching then made his move. He stepped away from the wall where he’d been loitering and headed for the idling car. The engine sputtered a bit, probably needed a tune-up, and a light haze of blue exhaust came from the tailpipe. Yup, the old banger needed a valve job for sure. This wouldn’t be the greatest get-away of all time, but how could Ron pass up the chance for a little fun? After all, it wasn’t costing him anything.
As he approached the vehicle, he looked once more into the store and saw the driver dump an armload of snacks and soft drinks on the counter. He was totally oblivious to the possibility of theft.
Oh, well. Not Ron’s problem.
Ron opened the door and quickly slipped into the driver’s seat. He reached for the gear shift on the center console, and then froze.
Something wasn’t right. The gear shift waggled in his hand as if it were about to come loose from its mounting. What the . . .?
Ron looked down to find the gear shift operated a manual transmission. Checking around the floorboard, Ron saw the clutch pedal positioned to the left of the brake pedal.
Momentarily disoriented, Ron hesitated about what to do next. In his limited life experiences, he’d never learned how to drive a manual transmission. These days everything was automatic and simple to operate. Who drives a stick anymore?
In desperation, Ron tried to get the car going by shoving the gear shift forward, pulling it back, and then jamming it forward again, but to no avail. He only succeeded in grinding the gears, which made an awful racket.
Suddenly, the car door flew open. Trapped in the driver’s seat, Ron found himself face to face with the angry owner of the car staring down at him. This was not supposed to be happening. He was supposed to be halfway to town already and enjoying the thrill of driving around in someone else’s car.
Ron was about to learn a valuable lesson in life about respecting private property as the big man grabbed a handful of shirt and hauled him from the vehicle.