In the Summer of 2020, I received a COVID-19 travel exemption to fly home to Newfoundland from Ontario. Taking the 14-day self-isolation requirement seriously, I arranged to have a vehicle left at the Deer Lake airport so I could drive to my destination without having to interact with anyone. I was honoured that my brother-in-law entrusted me with the family summer truck, a 1997 Ford Ranger that we affectionately call the 'purple truck'.
I spotted her as soon as I walked out of the airport. She stood out in the parking lot amid the shiny SUVs and sedans, full of scratches and dents that defined her age and use. She was a grand sight, and I was brimming with pride as I opened her unlocked doors, threw my bags onto the passenger seat, and crawled in behind the wheel. With the sun shining brightly and my two feet back on the island, I wasn't the least bit bothered that there would be no air conditioning or satellite radio for my hour and a half long drive.
As instructed, I found the key in the center console. The old girl started on the third try. I rummaged through the console and then the glove compartment, looking for the parking pass that would allow me to exit the lot. Unable to find it but unfazed, I started driving toward the parking kiosk, willing to pay the maximum fee so I could be on my way. At the kiosk, I did one last check for the pass, looking through papers under the sun visor. A sudden feeling of panic came over me as I pulled out a photo of a family, embraced and smiling, none of whom I recognized. It took only a quick scan of the parking lot to confirm my fear. Parked just two rows over was the twin of the purple truck I was sitting in.
The next few minutes were a blur. I backed up into the same spot I had so confidently just left and put the truck in park. I walked over to the second purple truck and sure enough, found the doors unlocked and the key and parking pass together inside the center console. I sheepishly went back to the first truck and returned the key to the console and tucked the photo back under the visor. I removed my belongings, made sure there were no signs of an intruder, and left the truck unlocked for the next traveller.
I won't soon forget the drive on the Trans-Canada Highway that day, windows cranked down and Newfie music playing on the cassette player. I had two long weeks ahead of me before I could see my family, but at least I was home. I also chuckled to myself, feeling so fortunate that I hadn't found the parking pass in the first truck, which I'm sure was hidden somewhere inside. If I had, I would have been blissfully unaware of having a stolen purple truck parked in the driveway during my 14-day isolation.