The Coat Thief

Last week, I went to play tennis with my friend, Nod (his name, not what he does), at the local facility across from Prospect Park.  When we finished up, we went to collect our gear including our coats which we had hung on the net posts.  Mine was gone.  This was no small deal.  The coat contained my wallet (with all my cards, licenses, etc.), cell phone, my house keys and my car keys.  After my panic subsided, a kind of calm came over me;  a feeling of being naked…of being a tabula rasa.  No past, only the present and the future.  I thought this must be something akin to what Christians experience when they’re Born Again.  Just without the visions of and the visits from you-know-who.  Otherwise, exactly the same.  

My Againness didn’t last long and soon my panic of being without anything returned.   I couldn’t imagine what could have happened to my coat.  And then I remembered…there was an older couple finishing up on the court as Nod and I arrived.  Maybe somehow, they had commandeered my jacket.  I went out to the front desk and complained that my coat had disappeared.  Rose, the young woman manning the desk asked, “Is it a black wool coat with a Banana Republic label?”  I said, “That’s it!” expecting her to produce said jacket and be on my way.  But that’s not what happened at all (and why we have this story).  She told me that apparently, the older couple had indeed taken my jacket. When they arrived home they called the club to ask her to call them whenever the coat’s owner showed up.  This was a little shocking–why not just turn around and bring the coat back?  Seems kind of obvious.   At any rate Rose called them to tell them that the jacket’s owner had appeared and wanted his coat back.  Their reply was that they didn’t live close by and it would be at least a half-hour for them to return it. 

Now, I started to really steam;  they had taken my coat and their remedy was to wait for a call before making the return trip to bring it back.   Were they thinking the owner of the coat (it was a chilly day) wouldn’t notice that he was wearing only a tee shirt  when he went outside?  And furthermore….how come they didn’t notice that they had an extra coat when they left. 

As I waited for my coat’s return, I wrestled with the ways I would deal with the thieves.  I settled on an approach that would  incorporate just the right blend of outrage and guilt provoking.  But then I started thinking that they were kind of old and maybe I was being too hard on them.  Mel Brooks’ line from The 2000 Year Old Man–  “We mock the things we are to be”–started playing a loop in my head.  With that in mind, I gave up some of my indignation, softened a little  and decided to deal with the whole matter with greater insouciance.

One of the perpetrators finally showed up and offered me my coat.  No apology…no sheepishness, nothing like that.  Presenting me the coat almost as if he had  found a Spaldeen that had been lost in the bushes during a stickball game.  Despite his lack of shame, I continued on my course of even temperedness.  But as he turned to leave I said, “I gotta ask…why didn’t you just turn around and bring the coat back as soon as you noticed it; why wait for a call?”  Without missing a beat, he explained that he didn’t live nearby and was hoping the jacket’s owner  might live near to him and save him the trip.  (“We mock the things we are to be, we mock the things we are to be, we mock….).  I swear that’s what he said;  and I replied that it was, at best, an interesting idea but totally without merit since  my CAR KEYS ARE IN MY COAT POCKET!!!

After the handoff of the coat, and after the thief had gone, I kept going over the sequence of events.  I was really glad that I had asked why there wasn’t a quick turn around to return the stolen merchandise.  Although the answer was non-sensical, it was at least, an answer.  But I was still left with an empty feeling; a feeling that I had missed the most important part of the whole incident.  For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out how two people had left with three coats and didn’t realize it.   Maybe some day when I’m older and losing it…it will all make sense to me.


9 Responses to “The Coat Thief”

  1. Kitty (My Husband Hates Veggies) Says:

    I can’t imagine how infuriating that must have been. Didn’t they check the pockets? I am guessing that his coat was hanging on the same peg of yours, he grabbed them both accidentally, didn’t put his own on and just tossed them in the back of his car. Good for you for keeping your cool.

  2. iron(ic)man triathlon Says:

    Kitty….you know me; you don’t really believe that i ‘kept my cool’ (a sixties expression….how old are you anyhow?)
    the beauty of being the author of my own blog is that i can write pretty much anything i want.

    best to all of you

  3. Enaj Says:

    what a peculiar story. it’s like a hard day’s night meets the three stooges meets woody allen. good one, lien. enaj.

  4. iron(ic)man triathlon Says:


    i’ll take that in the best way.

    hope all is well

  5. Ray Says:

    You know you blame the “older folks” but I put some of the blame on you for allowing the situation to be a potential disaster. WHY would you leave such important items in your coat? Especially when they were out of your sight (having played there I know the setup) I think you were looking for another story!!!

  6. nod Says:

    While we waited for the thief to return the coat (hopefully with the keys & wallet still in your “shallow pockets”) I must say you handled the matter with good humor, Lien. But perhaps Ray is right in that you share some of the blame. Remember a few weeks ago when another old guy started to walk off with my tennis bag? At least I noticed it. You know, observational skills are the first to go. : )

  7. iron(ic)man triathlon Says:

    This is astounding! Ray is practically accusing me of entrapping these coat thieves. Very nice.
    And you Nod, seem to almost agree with him. And on top of that you’re impugning my “observational skills” . I don’t know about you, but when I’m on the court I’m trying to focus on the ball…not on luggage or haberdashery.

  8. Enaj Says:

    The answer here is obvious: take up whaling. Much harder to skulk away with a harpoon bag.

  9. Mike McPartland Says:

    I’m pretty sure I know the “old” couple you’re talking about. It’s hard to believe they did what you’ve described, unless, of course, they were hot to get home in bed. You know, people tell me that tennis is sometimes a sexual turnon.

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