Since I live and work in essentially the same building when I am in Vancouver, I decided not bother getting a car, as transit is quite good here. Instead, I joined a car sharing program called It ends up costing about $10.50/hour Canadian to use a car in Vancouver… enough that it’s not a slam-dunk, but much cheaper than buying a car to use it just a few times a month. The problem is that it makes the cost of using a car so explicit in its hugeness that I, in my cheapness, end up using it very infrequently. But I digress.

Another problem is that there are two cars near me, and although they have always been available the few times I’ve tried to reserve them, they are far enough away that walking to them it is a little bit of a nuisance. The bus stop is much closer, which has the perverse side-effect of making taking the bus more convenient (at least at first). So when a co-worker told me that there was a Zipcar parked in the garage downstairs from where I live and work, I was very interested. He said it had been there for quite some time, so I thought maybe I’d discovered a car that hadn’t yet made it into the system.

So on Saturday afternoon, I went down there to get the “name” of the car (all cars have a human-ish sounding moniker to uniquely identify them). This VW had the somewhat unfortunate name “Jabilo Jetta”. Then I came upstairs and looked on the Zipcar web site. Still no car that “lives” in the building, so I searched Google for “Zipcar Jabilo Jetta”.

Two hits, both on the web site. But clicking through revealed no reference to the car on the web page. So I clicked on the Google cache, and it said this car lives at 10th and Tolmie Street, not too far away. However, there was no reference to the car on the Zipcar web site at all.

So I called customer service. I explained to the fellow that there was a car in my basement that had been there some time, and that it was not on the web site. He looked it up and said there was no reference to the car. I told him it was definitely there, and it was definitely a Zipcar (the cars advertise the web site pretty blatantly), “so if you’re lookin’ for it… it’s in the basement”. He asked me the license plate, so I put him on hold for a few minutes while I went downstairs to check it out.

I gave him the plate info, and there seemed to be a little activity on his end; he put me on hold a couple times, then talked to his supervisor. While I was on hold, I started to get the horrible feeling that I was overreacting and that perhaps someone who spent a lot of time in the building also spent a lot of time using this car, and I prepared to feel horribly embarrassed.

He returned and informed me that that car had been reported stolen. “Yay!” I chirped. “I’m a hero!” He took down details about where the car was located.

I asked him what would happen next; if someone would come reclaim the car or if the police would get involved. He said he was not sure, but he would file a report and then it would be out of his hands.

Alas, the bad news is that car does not live here, so it personally does me no good. Nevertheless, it was still pretty neat to help recover a stolen vehicle. Maybe I will buy a trench coat and grow some jowls, and you can all just call me McGruff.

One thought on “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah…

  1. Richard — someone from Toronto put me on to your blog as a somewhat ‘funny’ story about Zipcar.

    I am – well – with the co-op, not-for-profit Vancouve-based car sharing organization called the Co-operative Auto Network. And while I can tell you that indeed we do on rare occassions have a car stolen — more relevant to your story is that we actually DO have a car at 10th and Tolmie!

    Check us out — while we’re often better on many aspects of our service — this proximity seems to add to our charm!

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