It was 1987.
My friend, Joe, and I were going out to eat and to a movie, but his car overheated and his friend said, "No problem! Use my car!" His 1982 Datsun B510 was parked on the 3rd floor ... closest to the elevator. He said the hubcab was missing in the front driver's side and the key would be tucked inside the sunvisor.
"No problem!" we'd find it easily. Especially a car like that in the upscale neighborhood of Walnut Creek.
He said he'd be working until after midnight. To just park it in or near the same spot. Leave the keys up in the sunvisor and he'd find it.
I will never forget that hot afternoon. It was easy to find his Datsun B510. The hubcap was missing, certainly, but just not on the front drivers side. We opened the door and checked for the keys up in the sunvisor. Instead, they were under the mat.
Unbeknownst to Joe, his friend was apparently a chain smoker and kept it well hid from him. The cigarettes were overflowing from the ashtray down into the floor of his car.
The first thing we did was fill the empty tank with gas and then headed to the nearest car wash to clean it.
Afterwards, it didn't leave us much time to eat, so we found a quick in and out burger place and then stood in a long line to see Good Morning Vietnam.
It was a brand new show.
The lines were long but we were excited to get in. At the end of the movie, we returned the car back. It was clean and the tank was filled with gas. We left a quick note on his dash: "THANKS FOR THE CAR! IT WAS A REAL JOY!"
Three days later, we realized it was more of a ... Joy Ride.
Joe and his friend were talking and somewhere in the conversation, his friend asked why we never ended up borrowing his car.
"We did! Didn't you notice how clean we left it and left you with a full tank of gas?"
As it turned out, we had gotten into the WRONG car. We actually were Joy-Riding. We could have been arrested for Grand Theft. I often wonder what would have happened if we were captured.
This innocent evening out.
I also wonder about the car owner who returned to his car only to find it filled with gas and clean with a nice note from the thieves thanking him for the joy ride. Oh to hear his side of the story!
Tonight, I am grateful we never got caught.