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Robbed in Georgetown, Part V: Judith

Robbed in Georgetown is a multi-part series describing a frequent crime in an unexpected place. This is the final excerpt. Links to Parts I to IV are below.

By 3:00 am I was in bed, stiff and wired. There was nothing I could do but try to sleep and give up for the night. My BMW was sitting in a Georgetown alley, unlocked, windows open. My keys were gone -- both sets. The car would have to be towed to a dealer to have new keys made. Two tow trucks had tried and failed so far.

I worried about my stolen checkbook. I had no phones anymore, no credit cards. Grungy clothes stuck to me after several hours.

The pre-robbery scene was different. I'd been at the Foxhall home of Marina and Dan Ein to celebrate Kitty Kelley's new biography, "Oprah." Glasses of lovely wine and trays of warm delights floated in a graceful slalom among the media stars.

Then in a split second, a dreamy soiree fractured into a crag of panic, police, tow truck drivers, locksmiths, taxis, and 24-hour credit card operators. No cash, no credit cards, no keys, no phone. I was somewhere between panic and nausea. They had the keys to my new house where the car was parked.

Exhaustion took over finally as I traded street clothes for sweats and pulled a blanket over my head in my old house. Unease. Jose, Sergei. Officer Anderson. Had he taken my purse?

"Your doors were open, ma'am," he kept repeating. "I closed your doors." After taking the purse?

A red light flashed. Back in my bedroom, messages in my computer beckoned.

"Oh my GOD! That's terrible!!" Judith wrote to my inbox. "I'm picking you up NOW!"

The windows were light again. It was about 7:00 am. In my blur I faced the blinking icons on the screen, then tried to type something back. "I'm fine, don't come," I said flatly. Pretending I had control of the situation seemed necessary. Obviously it was untrue.

"I'm coming over right now!!!" she warned. "I'm changing my clothes and I'll be right over!!!"

Don't, don't, I pleaded. I had a plan. I didn't need any help. Judith persisted. "Don't MOVE! I'm coming."

Why wouldn't she listen? Then, another thought: why was it so hard to be helped?

I threw on a coat, shoved a checkbook, pen and lipstick into my pockets, and started power walking into town. Judith met me along the way, her import warily rounding Logan Circle a few times before she spotted me.

"It's really nice of you to come," I said.

"What can I DO?" she said. "How can I help?"

It occurred to me that it would be a good idea to find out whether the car was still there. We zipped along deserted Sunday streets.

"You're going to take my iPhone. Here," she said.

"You can't give me your iPhone!" I said.


"Because you need it! It's not safe not to have a cell phone." I knew she would be driving to visit her father that day, as she did every Sunday. What if she crashed?

"I don't need it," she insisted. She pushed a chic Whole Foods shopping bag into my hands. I dropped the phone and my checkbook to its bottom. "Thank you," I managed.

We rumbled through the alley, splashing the cold water left in potholes behind the Senator's house.

There was the car. The BMW. Baffling. The robbers had the keys. Why hadn't they taken it? Part of me, a stupid part, wished they had so I wouldn't have to deal with this.

Judith wanted to stick around and help, drive me places, whatever I needed. I pleaded with her to drop me off. I needed to attempt a normal day. I wanted to walk a bit and had made plans to be let into my office by a colleague. She shook her head and obliged. "You certainly are stubborn," she said.

As I strode off to my normal Sunday breakfast spot (where I planned to ask for a bagel and the Sunday papers on credit - the credit of my name), Allstate called and summoned me back to the alley. I sprinted back within the hour.

A small towtruck with a strange contraption on the back was waiting, its motor rumbling.

The driver, wearing a stained trucker's cap, flashed a toothless half smile. "This your car?" he asked.

"It is, I'm afraid," I said.

"No problem," he said. "Do you have cash?"

Judith had slipped me a few twenties, but I didn't want to use them up this way. I hesitated.

After hearing what happened, Dionne did some calculations on his pink-yellow-white carbon receipt. His handles gnarled and etched with white lines, he used a ball point pen that he stuck on his tongue now and then.

"Ok, no charge," he said brightly.

"No charge?" I echoed.

"No charge," he repeated.

I gave him a 20 anyway.

"I'll cover your window real good at the dealer's," he said. The car would be sitting outside for a few days, with rain predicted. "I'll take care of it." He waved me off with a smile.

I got to the office, got on the phone to cancel more of my proofs of identity, and called friends. Sympathy, hugs. "Poor you!" The kind words soothed.

My sweet mother drove downtown, circling blocks to find me, to lend her credit card for a new iPhone. "You'd better get the mobile back-up this time," she said. There would be no argument this day.

She took me to the grocery store, and then, to my empty old house. It was dusk.

The new phone charged itself, then miraculously downloaded all my contacts and emails.

"Still, you should get the police to track your old phone with GPS," she said.

She gave me a big hug and drove away.

I made a phone call.


The end.

Robbed in Georgetown, Part I: The Hit

... It was 10:30 on a clear Saturday night... Robbed in Georgetown is a multi-part series describing a frequent crime in an ...

Robbed in Georgetown, Part II: Adrenaline

... don't require smalltalk. "Bill, I've been robbed. All my keys were taken, my phones. Could you get the number for ... in front of my old house, where I'd never been robbed. The driver said his name was Jose. "Sure, I'll take you ...

Robbed in Georgetown, Part III: "Jose"

... Right now I was. Saturday night in Georgetown. Robbed in Georgetown is a multi-part series describing a frequent crime in an ...

Robbed in Georgetown, Part IV: Truckin'

... a check with nothing to prove that it was real. Robbed in Georgetown is a multi-part series describing a frequent crime in an ...