Saturday, October 29, 2005

A Cop Around When You Need One

Thursday was a pretty good day; Rachel made everything easy, I dropped off our video camera and a tape for our friend David to dupe our wedding video (we can't seem to find the VHS copy he gave us soon after the wedding), picked up Dawn's anniversary present (more on that later), and still got some work done (though I was having serious motivational problems).

Dawn's anniversary present is a bit of a story in and of itself. As this is our 5th anniversary and I already gave Dawn a pair of earrings (as a wedding present) and a matching necklace (as a 40th birthday/Rachel's birth present, with my parents and her father), I decided that it's time to get her a matching bracelet. I went back to our jeweler during a couple of lunches with co-workers at Barney's, which is next door to the jeweler's gallery. Although it's not really what I envisioned initially, it's fantastic and probably much better than my original plan. I had just been thinking of a single strand bracelet with 5 large Keshi pearls (grey, non-nucleated) and 5 ruby gem stones. Yes, there's a theme here.

The thing is that this would not have had much substance but would have been pretty expensive (which is not to say that what I got was cheap). What I wound up with is 5 strands of relatively small Keshi pearls and ruby beads with a platinum clasp that has 5 very small ruby gems embedded in it. She can wear it flat, with all the strands more or less in a row, or twisted so it becomes almost like a short rope. It's really great, and Jan outdid herself as far as I'm concerned. It's in a box & wrapped up, so I can't even look at it now, but it's great! I've decided to give it to her before our family dinner on the 5th (coincidence), though my friend Michelle thought I should give it to her at the dinner.

For dinner, Rachel and I went to a new burger place with Rachel's friend Anika & her father and sister. Well, it seems to be new to us. It's pretty good, though the menu's not as big as Barney's. The shake (chocolate) may have been better, actually. And everything was a little cheaper. I'd definitely go there again, though I think I still like Barney's better.

Rachel did really pretty well for being so tired. We had a little bit of trouble at the restaurant at first, because I made the mistake of ordering the shake with dinner, rather than after, but Anika and Teah had theirs already. We'd taken so long to get there because of dropping off the video camera that they'd had to go ahead and order. I probably would have done the same thing, and they'd just gotten the food when we arrived. She really should have had a bath that night, but she was practically ready for bed when we got home, so I didn't push my luck.

When I was about to go to bed, around 10:30, I decided that since the house cleaners were coming Friday morning I ought to go through the two weeks of mail left in the basket (I pull out the important stuff along the way) and get the junk in the recycling and maybe even put the catalogs and magazines somewhere else. So there I am sitting on the floor by the front door wearing only shorts when, right about 11, I think, I heard a noise and then a car alarm went off. Since I don't know what the Prius alarm sounds like yet, I jumped up and went to the front window where I discovered that it was actually our Honda. Great. Grabbed the remote, turned it off and went out on the porch to see what I could see.

Nothing. Oh, wait... three people going around the corner, one of them on a bike. Well, maybe I should grab a jacket and a flash light and go make sure there's nothing actually wrong with the car - the alarms occasionally go off for no apparent reason. Actually, I realize that's not so true with the Honda - it's the truck that has a 'glass break sensor', aka microphone listening for the ultra-high pitched noise of a piece of metal or stone scraping glass. The truck alarm has been going off so much because of twigs falling from our tree onto the truck that the alarm is typically off when the thing is at home.

Anyway, I went out, barefoot, to check on it, and lo and behold, the front passenger window is broken. Lovely. As I'm looking at the damage and wondering whether they stole anything, who should be driving by but a Berkeley police officer! So I flagged her down and told her someone broke in the car in the last minute and that though I didn't see them do it, three people walked around the corner, one on a bike. She went after them and then a few minutes later two more officers rolled up while I was getting ready to put a plastic bag over it. They asked some questions, wrote down various bits and had me wait to put the bag on in case the other officer wanted to have an ID tech out to take finger prints...

The other officer (and yet two more, making at total of five involved!) found people matching my description (as limited as it was) a couple of blocks away on a different street, clearly heading to the park near our house. One of the officers took me up to see whether I could say anything more definitive about them. At first, he was going to have me sit in back of his patrol car, but I took one look (imagine the divider for a cab; now make it substantially thicker and closer to the back seat) and said "I don't know if I'm going to fit back there", so he moved his stuff there and let me sit up front. The other officer who had come to the scene stayed at the house (outside, but with the door unlocked) just on the off chance Rachel woke up, or really just to make sure nothing happened since she was in there alone.

So, up we went, about 3 blocks away. One white guy, two black, one actually a woman I found out a little later. Dressed in jeans and large jackets; the white guy also had a red bandana on his head. They definitely looked as if they could be the people who were going around the corner, but even if I'd been certain of that, I still didn't actually see them do anything. It turns out that they're homeless and have been hanging around that park for several weeks (according to someone who lives up on the street where the cops found them). It further turns out that the officers had just turned them out of the park shortly before they broke into my car. I'm quite certain they did, as there was no one else around, but there was no further evidence. The woman will go to jail on some outstanding traffic warrant, but they cut the other two loose.

When they took me back to the house, I put the bag in the window. The main officer came back and we talked more about it. She actually pointed out as well that I should open the car door and trap the bag with it as much as possible so as to avoid relying on tape any more than necessary. It worked quite well, actually.

Duane commented that there must not have been much going on in Berkeley that night if five officers got involved in a car break-in with nothing stolen. I don't think it's terribly common for them to hear 'someone broke into my car in the last minute' as compared to 'someone broke into my car sometime in the last three days since I parked it there after bringing home the Prius'. I realize now that the noise I heard right before the car alarm went off was actually the window breaking although it wasn't a shattering noise; more like a pop, I think.

This makes twice recently there's been a Berkeley police officer around when I "needed" one. When I was test driving a Prius a couple of weeks ago, we were in slow traffic on Grove & someone coming the other direction cut us all off by turning across our paths. I had to slam on the brakes, and a pickup may have narrowly managed to stop without rear-ending me. A moment later, I see a police car come out from behind us with lights on and go around the corner after the guy. Go get 'im!!

Anyway, I took the car to our mechanic around the corner & he's going to park it inside over the weekend and should be able to have it vacuumed out and a new window in place by Tuesday, I hope. I guess I'll tell Dawn about it after she gets home; certainly not while she's on vacation. In a way I don't want to tell her at all because I'm sure she'll start ranting about moving to Danville and becoming a republican...

Clearly, between the car story and the anniversary present information, I'll be saving this as a draft until after I've told Dawn about the car & given her the present...

After picking Rachel up at school yesterday, we went to the store to get a few groceries and then went home to make dinner before the babysitter came over. Dan is in town, staying with John having a guys' weekend with Jim; they're playing lots of video games, looking at "fucked up shit" on the 'Net, which includes finding apparently true stuff like this, and just generally behaving like care-free bachelors.

Rachel helped me make mac & cheese for her and we sent an email to Dawn including a section narrated by Rachel. It sounds as if Dawn and Elisabeth are having a really great time. I know Dawn misses us and I'm sure it's fairly hard for her, not having been away from Rachel this long, but I'm really glad they went. Dawn said she hasn't worn anything more than a bathing suit or shorts & a tank top the whole time they've been there.

I had a blast with the guys. They've been talking about making a little movie, but I'm not really all that interested in being in it. Not entirely sure why. It also probably requires a fair amount of time. Jim's thinking of a whole day of shooting to come up with a few minutes of actual footage. A short movie, then. We went out for Chinese at a mediocre restaurant, hung out, talked, laughed, found more fucked up shit on the web, etc.

After having a long talk with the sitter about college (she's doing applications) and cleaning up the kitchen a little, I didn't get to bed until well after midnight. Luckily, Rachel didn't come get me until almost 7. I'm tired.

Rachel's still not had a bath because I went to get together with Dan, John & Jim, so I probably need to do that this morning. That statement is completely true, but only if you read "probably need to" to mean "absolutely, positively must".

Oh, Rachel...

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