The other day I was at Traitor Joe’s with my sister, and as soon as we parked, I saw a dude with some sort of blunt object smashing both windows on the right side of this little red sedan. The dude reached in and grabbed a backpack from one of the seats, and then hopped into an idling car parked right next to it and the car took off. It was a two-man job! It happened so fast I didn’t even process what I had seen until the car was screaming through the parking lot towards the exit.

This was in the middle of the day! In broad daylight! In a safe shopping center in Emeryville! I thought, holy lord, these dudes are brazen. What’s more is that as I stood dumbfounded there seconds after this had all gone down, I realized no one else but me had noticed. There were people everywhere. Not one of them had seen it! I walked over to the car and looked around. There was broken glass all over the ground and in the inside of the car. I felt real bad just then.

I went inside and told the guys in the office that someone’s car had gotten fucked up. Initially I hesitated, not wanting to come off like a hall monitor . . . but then, you know, I figured it was someone in the store, and I figured they’d want to know as soon as possible. One of the guys walked outside with me and looked at the car. He was unfazed. He said he’d seen another car get smashed earlier that morning, right out there in the open before the eyes of God and all those half-asleep people. And no one had noticed!

Finding myself useless in the world once again, I went back into TJ’s and bought a bunch of fruit. My sister texted me when I was in line saying the owner of the car was outside . . . a middle-aged woman who was real upset to see that her shit had been jacked. Apparently my sister went over and talked to her, told her what happened, and on and on. And the woman said she was a teacher, and that the bag contained all her lesson plans for the year, and her new laptop that she used for school. Man! This was a cheap mass-produced family car that was obviously owned by someone of modest means. I thought, if you’re going to fuck with someone’s shit, at least break into a fucking Tesla or something!

I went outside and approached the woman, who was standing motionless and alone next to her smashed car. I told her I’d seen what happened, but that I wasn’t fast enough to get the plate number. She touched my arm and said it was OK, said that it wouldn’t have done any good anyway. I supposed that was true. The laptop would be sold as soon as possible, and the backpack and all her lesson plans would be in the trash. Lord, this woman’s face. She looked like she’d lost all hope in the thing. Well, I know how that goes. “I’m real sorry, lady,” I said. I didn’t know what else to do, so I hugged her and she hugged me back.