-warning –  this is a longer than usual post based on events that happened over the weekend…


On Friday, I tweeted out gratitude for a fine end to a fabulous week. I had attended a Women of Influence luncheon and achieved my goal of meeting the inspiring Arlene Dickinson of Dragon’s Den (one of the few shows I am riveted to on television – our version of the US show Shark Tank) with a bonus of chatting with the eloquent Marci Ien of CTV. This was followed by a successful client visit and smooth drive home leaving with a few minutes to catch my breath before my tennis match was to start at my local club. And by local, I mean a three minute walk away.


My husband and son walked over to hit balls before the match. I used up the time I would normally walk over to the club to catch my breath and put my feet up for a few minutes. In truth, I was exhausted and hoping that the clouds would hold some rain and provide me with an easy out. I re-filled my water bottle, put it in my tennis backpack, and got in my car to drive over.


Upon reaching the court I learned I had misread the schedule and we were actually supposed to play the following Friday. Great, I thought! Time to go home and open a cold bottle of wine. But, no. Our club pro was at the courts and offered to play a few games. I have trouble turning down golden opportunities so we stayed and played.


90 minutes later, I was a different person. Energized by the exercise – we played doubles for 40 minutes or so, and a delicious 50 minutes of singles…which included a lot of time rallying and really getting into a good groove. Any tennis players out there? You’ll know what I mean when I say the racquet felt like an extension of my arm.


Tired and happy, my husband and I walked home and planted ourselves in the family room to unwind. I went to bed earlier than usual and a good sleep until one of my cats, Peanut, decided to walk around my head and wake me sometime after sunrise. I decided I’d earned a good lie in so didn’t check the clock and tried to fall back asleep. I heard the front door open and close. Must be my husband getting the paper I thought, and back to sleep I went.


Around 9am, my husband was itching to get at some of the errands for the weekend and asked, “Clare, where are your keys?” We have a single driveway and two cars so there is a lot of car switching going on. Hmmm, I thought. That’s odd, the keys are usually in their ‘spot’, but I also find them in my purse if someone else opens the front door. Hmmm, not in my purse. Seconds later, “Clare, where is your car?”


Oh no.  No keys and no car?


I don’t know if you hear about things like this in your neighbourhood, but we have a great network of moms and neighbours and word gets around. I know it happens.  So I immediately came to the conclusion that the car had been stolen. There was no damage at the front door or signs of break-in, so we thought in our tired state we, or probably, if I am going to come completely clean, I thought my husband, must have left the door unlocked. We’d had a few discussions over the past weeks about remembering to lock the door.No matter. It was just the car gone, and we were safe. Here is a picture of the emptiness in my driveway that greeted us Saturday morning.

I called the local police and because of the stolen house keys, they sent an officer over to make a report and take a look around the house. I spent most of my Saturday on the phone with the car insurance company reporting the loss, having our home locks rekeyed, and arranging a rental car.


That night I thought I would sleep soundly but awoke a few times noticing every sound. It’s unnerving to feel that your space has been invaded.


Sunday we awoke and things felt back to normal except for the silver car in the driveway instead of the normal gold. In the afternoon, my son and husband walked back over to the courts for a late afternoon clinic, and I joined them shortly afterwards.


On my way over, I cut through the parking lot, and noticed a gold CR-V. Yup, my plates. My car. Wow, I thought. Perhaps it was kids just taking it for a ride. There were a few new scratches on the bumper and on the side door. I called the police to notify them I had found the car. In my efforts to learn “what to do when your car is stolen”, I had read that it’s best not to touch, and certainly not to drive the car until the police have removed it from their system. Car theft is viewed as a felony and police could approach the car with guns drawn in both Canada and the US.



I continued over to the courts and found my husband. I told him I found the car…and then it slowly started dawning on me. Did we walk home or drive home on Friday night? Did I open the front door, or did he use his key? It is alarming how details so recent can be so forgotten. And if he opened the front door, then my keys might be right in the tennis backpack I was holding.


Oh dear.


There was no break-in. The car hadn’t been stolen. I had simply lost it. Exactly where I left it.


Now this can happen to anyone, but for an organizer, who works hard to help people create homes for things so that they can find them easily, this was a tough moment.  I made a mistake jumping to the conclusion the car had been stolen without first retracing my steps.


I met the police man. Explained the story. He was ever so gracious. I called the insurance company. Explained again. Good news, they said, there has been no theft. I told a few friends and they said it’s a funny story. Funny? More towards completely embarrassing! And I have some more explaining to do.  I’m almost ready to laugh about it.
But, more importantly, here is what I have learned:

  1. Even the best organizing systems can let you down sometimes. Because things might happen a little differently than you planned. And that’s okay.
  2. When you are tired, it may be worth paying extra special attention to what you are doing. Even the simple things.
  3. Nobody was upset at the turn of events of this mistake but me. Forgive yourself. Forgive others.
  4. You’re not alone. I felt a lot of empathy and support from my neighbourhood and network. We can truly look out for each other.
  5. Make a copy of your mileage log! I would have lost four years of mileage notes. Completely avoidable and I’ve been given a second chance.


I also learned a bit about what I would have missed out of the things in my car which added up to a few hundred dollars even though my car was pretty empty.

  1. My orange leather beaver-shaped key tag from Roots. Something Canadian and orange. I can recognize my keys easily because of it.
  2. Also on my key tag, a sleek, metal whistle I bought in Tokyo 14 years ago in a design store. Axis on Roppongi-dori for anyone who’s been. I like the feeling of having something really noisy at my disposal if I’m ever walking in an unsettling area.
  3. My 1993 Serengeti sunglasses. They went around the world with me and I’ve had them so long I think they are back in style. Please don’t shatter the myth if I’m wrong.  I think my daughter may have a point. The longer you own something, the harder it might be to give it up. They are also the perfect lens for cloudy day driving.
  4. My Elaine Overholt warmup CD and current set list. With a gig coming up in less than two weeks, I am depending on both of these. Replaceable, but not without spending some time.

And that is the point that really stuck with me. Time. What the whole thing ended up being was a huge waste of time. My time, the insurance company’s time, and the police officers’ time. I am keenly aware of wasted time. Except that maybe it wasn’t entirely wasted. I have learned that perhaps I need to slow down a little lot sometimes, and that I am surrounded by loving and supportive people. I have learned I have even more to be thankful for. And that it’s okay to be part of a funny, even embarrassing story.