Snacktime: Feeling Adrift18:04

"Raft" (Courtesy Nathan Gibbs)
"Raft" (Courtesy Nathan Gibbs)

TL;DL (Too Long; Didn’t Listen)

Ben shares a story about a real-life grand theft auto adventure and Amory tells the story of a dad whose new hobby may only be scratching the surface of something deeper.

Thanks to Nathan Gibbs for the photo. He's @nathangibbs on Twitter, and you can see more of his photos on his Flickr page.

Reddit Links: 

Bens story:

-James' original Reddit post asking for help finding his lost car
-James' photo of his stolen car
-The news report on James' car

Amory's story:
-Raft dad

Contact Us:

We want to hear from you! Don't hesitate to reach out with reactions to episodes, ideas for future stories, feedback about the show, or just to say hi. There are a few ways to reach us:

Story continues below

Subscribe to the podcast

Full Transcript:

This content was originally created for audio. The transcript has been edited from our original script for clarity. Heads up that some elements (i.e. music, sound effects, tone) are harder to translate to text.
Ben: Alright. It's a snack time week.

Amory: Snacktime!

Ben: Get your snacks on.

Amory: We don't have any snacks.

Ben: I know we don't have any snacks this week.

Amory: Sans snacks. It’s a post Thanksgiving cleanse.

Ben: It’s still pretty snacky.

Amory: You got a story?

Ben: I got a snack.

Amory: Snack it up.

Ben: Amory?

Amory: Ben?

Ben: I want to introduce you to a Redditor.

James: My name's James Cartwright. My Reddit handle is Blitzfuer. Just moved to Charlotte about two years ago.

Ben: Charlotte, North Carolina.

Amory: He sounds like he's from the show Bonanza. He's a Cartwright.

Ben: He is a Cartwright. He's totally a Cartwright.

Amory: I am so my father's daughter.

Ben: Oh, wow, that’s impressive. The Bonanza. You pulled out the Bonanza. I used to watch that show with my dad too, okay. I want to tell you about James's horse.

Amory: OK.

Ben: Just kidding. Just kidding. OK. I want to tell you about James's car, which is kind of the subject of our adventure.

James: It's a giant SUV. It's a Volkswagen atlas. It is cherry red with like turquoise blue streaks and stripes on it and white stripes. And plastered all across the side is the phone number for my office. It's a sexy car. That's for sure.

Ben: Any guesses about what James does?

Amory: Is he like part of the Geek Squad?

Ben: No. Well, actually, in a way, he is. So this is what James used to do.

James: I was a nerd for the Marine Corps. I sat in a tech shop fixing radios and using a soldering iron and a magnifying glass to go through circuit boards. And that was that was my job in the Marines.

Ben: OK. Any more guesses about his civilian life job? Never mind, it actually has nothing to do with his old job.

James: When you're growing up and you think of the things you want to be, a dog trainer wasn't one of them. But it's the happiest I've ever been. It's the most amazing, most rewarding, fulfilling job I could ask for. I dig it.

Ben: His company is called Off Leash. And he really plays up his super crazy looking car that he has. For instance, he parks at the end of a set of spots or like corner spots in parking lots so that everyone sees his car and his phone number and his business name, which I don’t know, I think that's kind of smart. But unfortunately, the other night something happened to his car.

Amory: Oh, no.

Ben: So James’ girlfriend works in retail. And because it's the holiday season, she's like working crazy hours. She was getting home super late.

James: And so she didn't make it home until about 4:00 a.m. And when she came home, she woke me up and was like, hey, did you park your car somewhere weird? And at first I thought she was playing a prank on me, like, who in the world is going to steal that billboard? And so I was like, no, I didn't move it. Stop messing with me. And I tried to go back to sleep and she, like, yanked all the covers off of me and was like, no, your car is gone. We need to go down there and look for it right now. And so then when we headed outside. Sure as shit my car was gone.

Amory: Oh, no.

Ben: His car was stolen. He called the police and filed the report. He also drove around for a bit with his girlfriend and looked and they had no luck. And James has only been on Reddit for a few months. But he has this idea and he's like, I should post to the Charlotte subreddit. So he puts a photo of his crazy looking car...

Amory: Yesss.

Ben: ... in a post on the Charlotte subreddit. And is like, guys, my car is stolen. It’s this really like unique looking car. If you see it, can you call the police or let me know. And in the matter of just like a couple of hours, he has got a trickle of responses from people who have seen his car. So like one person's like, oh, I saw it on the highway over here and like, another person's like, oh, it's in this store a lot over here. And this woman actually takes a picture of it while it's in her apartment complex and sends that to James. So James and his girlfriend, of course, get back in his girlfriend's car.

(dramatic music plays)

James: I was able to kind of pinpoint where these guys were driving around. I started to realize that, oh, holy shit, this might work. I kept my phone glued to me, and Reddit open and I was just refreshing it constantly. And every new tip that came in, I would immediately just drive over there and try and find my car.

Ben: So he's hot on the trail, but he's always behind. Right? Like all these people are like, oh, it's here. And like, he goes to the place and the car is not there. Everywhere he goes. And meanwhile, his bosses have called a local TV news station and have told them this story. And so the news station calls James and they're like, can you come in and do an interview? So he’s like, OK, I guess maybe this will help more than what's happening right now. And just as he gets on the road.

James: Holy shit. I'm driving down Steele Creek and I happen to look off to the right and there's my car.

Amory: Was someone in it at the time?

Ben: So...

Amory: Oh no.

Ben: He pulls into the parking lot and he starts gunning it to the car. At the same time, and I can see this in almost like a cinematic way, he sees a teenager run out of a Harris Teeter store and this teenager’s like booking it and they have a backpack.

Amory: What's a Harris Teeter store?

Ben: I didn't know this, but it's like it's a chain store. I think it's a grocery store.

Amory: OK.

James: So mentally I'm like, I'll bet that little shit just stole a bunch of stuff from Harris Teeter. And as soon as that thought hit my brain, I was like, Oh, I'll bet you he's running to my car! And sure enough, I'm like, driving right on his heels and he hops in the passenger seat of my car.

Amory: Dude's on a rampage.

Ben: Yeah. And well it's multiple people because this kid got into the passenger seat. Right?

Amory: Oh no.

Ben: So James is like, he's super amped up, obviously, as one would be in this situation. And what he does is he pulls his girlfriend's car behind his car so that the car can't back out. But the person who's driving the car puts it in reverse and guns it.

Amory: They were not in the car, right?

Ben: Yeah, he is. Everybody's in their cars. However, it has anti crash technology in it.

Amory: Oh!

Ben: So these kids, who are trying to smash into James's girlfriend's car with his car, can't actually do it because the car automatically stops. So the guy, the kid, the high school, what seems to be the teenager kid who jumped in the passenger seat, jumps back out and runs away. The person in the driver's seat kind of like gets out slowly. And it kind of looks like messed up. And maybe on something. He's kind of moving more slowly.

James: And that's when my girlfriend thankfully had the presence of mind to pull out her phone, because I'm so hopped up on adrenaline. I almost hopped out of the car and she's grabbing my arm. She's holding me in the car. She whips out her phone and gets this amazing face shot of the kid that hopped out of my car. And so we gave that to the police. And they're actually working on identifying him right now.

Amory: Women. So wise. So calm. So logical.

Ben: But it's really funny. Like, I've seen this photo because, of course, he subsequently posted it on Reddit. And it is definitely one of those like, perp shots where the guy is like, he's kinda like looking over his shoulder as he's getting out of the car that is clearly James’ car. So that guy kind of like wanders off, whatever. I think he ends up running off. But James calls the police, obviously. Also, he like calls the TV station because the TV station…

Amory: is expecting him.

Ben: expecting him and he's not there. And the TV reporter shows up in 15 minutes. The cops show up two and a half hours later. But James said that they did a really, really good job when the cops got there. They like dust, you know, they dusted everything. They did a bunch of stuff. He, like, stayed away from the car until the police, get there. The police do their thing. The car is kind of a mess. It's full of snack food.

Amory: Terrific.

Ben: It's also full of tobacco from people like rolling blunts, like breaking up, you know, blunt stuff. And it also, he says, has a terrible weed smell in it.

James: I'm from Denver, Colorado. I have had good weed. I can tell what good weed smells like. And this was definitely shwag.

Ben: So I asked James, like, how he felt about these two people that stole his car.

James: You know, like the kid that came running out of Harris Teeter. He was probably 18 or younger. And the kid that got out of my car. He was young 20s. So it's hard for me to, like, think of them as these hardened criminals that deserve to get the book thrown at them, but also like, they stole a car. And when the police find them, hopefully justice will be served the way that it should be. I just hope that they definitely learn their lesson, that they don’t steal another car.

Ben: At least like not such a conspicuous car.

Amory: Yeah.

Ben: Steal a little less, steal like a Toyota Corolla.

Amory: Yeah. Reddit will have a harder time with that. Although I know a Corolla when I see one.

Ben: That's true. So James had one more message that he wanted to send.

James: Massive shout out to r/Charlotte. That is the subreddit that did this. It was just that community is incredible. So, yeah, thank you to everybody on r/Charlotte.

(music plays)

Ben: Also, he has subsequently got a huge jump in business from Redditors who have dogs…

Amory: that need to be trained.

Ben: ...that need to be trained and have been following along. So a good happy ending to the story. I think.

Amory: Good Charlotte.

Ben: Good char-- ho hooooo!

Amory: Thanks, Ben.

Ben: Yeah. You got it. What do you got for me?

Amory: You'll find out after the break.

[Sponsor Break]

Amory: OK, Ben, I have a story for you.

Ben: OK.

Amory: It also involves, I guess you wouldn't call this a locomotive, but something that you might transport yourself on, rather than in.

Ben: Magic carpet?

Amory: It's kind of like a magic carpet.

Ben: Perfect, I’m in.

Amory: But for water. So this I found in the relationships subreddit, which is just a gold mine of relationship-related stories — some you might expect to read, some you might really not expect to read. This is one of those.

Ben: Is it a dumpster fire like most r/relationships posts are?

Amory: No with this one, this one has layers to it, I will say. This one reveals itself to you. So the subject line is my husband's obsession with building rafts is becoming a detriment to our family life. Yeah. That was my reaction too when I saw the headline.

Ben: Mrs. Caruso?

Amory: Maybe! The username is raftwife. This is her one and only post. And I'm going to read an excerpt of the post.

Ben: This is so good, okay.

Amory: I know. OK, so she says, “To begin, my husband and I have been together for 15 years and we have a six year old son. My husband is an incredibly caring and kind person. He loves our son and me deeply, and he would do anything for us. The reason I'm writing this post is that around a month ago, he began behaving a little strangely and I'm starting to worry about him. When he isn't working or sleeping, he started spending all of his time constructing rafts of various shapes and sizes. This might seem like a harmless and honestly quite sweet pastime. It certainly was at first, but it has become an obsession for my husband. And it's not only affecting our relationship, but his relationship with our son.”

Ben: Son’s not into rafts?

Amory: Well, he's kind of forcing his son to be in the rafts. She says, “Lately, my husband only seems to want to take us out to the local lake where he will get our son to test out his various rafts. Where we would usually relax together on Sunday mornings, he now spends them in the nearby woods, gathering logs from which to construct his rafts.”

Ben: You know what? I'm Team Raft Dad.

Amory: Team Raft Dad.

Ben: So far I am fully Team Raft Dad

Amory: Okay. Well, she says in conclusion, more or less, “My husband has always had a crippling fear of water, stemming, I think, from a fishing boat accident he was involved in as a child that seriously injured his own father. Just over a month ago, our son, much to my husband's dismay, started taking swimming lessons. Am I being too farfetched in thinking this might have some relation to my husband's obsession with building rafts?”

Ben: I mean, definitely.

Amory: How can I help my husband balance his new hobby with spending time with our family? So Redditors deliver, as you might expect.

Ben: Oh god there are going to be so many jokes in this thread.

Amory: Okay, so someone says, have you told him about any of your concerns? You didn't mention actually bringing it up with him. Someone says, yeah, definitely, at least float them past him. Someone says definitely OP should run that stream of thought by him. Another person says it would be a real shame if this hobby sunk the relationship.

Ben: But at the same time you don’t want to cast away the relationship, if you know what I mean.

Amory: Well, the thread kind of takes a turn then, because one person says, the fact that he has a phobia of water from seeing his dad get injured in the water as a kid and now having to deal with his son getting swim lessons, the rafts seem like a way of asserting control of his fear of water and fear for his son. They say, I honestly think going to therapy so he can learn more appropriate strategies of managing his fears instead of an all-consuming hobby is the best way of approaching this. Someone else says, adding to that, is he sleeping, eating and generally taking care of the basic stuff? If not, consider talking to his doctor about whether this could be a manic episode. Someone else says, I'm bipolar and this sounds like a hypomanic or manic episode. I was just totally struck by how at first I see the headline for this post. I have a laugh as you would naturally.

Ben: It’s hilarious. Yes, of course.

Amory: I start reading the comments. I have more of a laugh like you would naturally. And then by, you know, the end of the comment section, people are really concerned and they're saying, maybe this does mean something bigger. And other people say, you know what, it's been a month. He's really into this. Who knows? He could give this up by the next month or the month after that.

Ben: Yeah. I mean, like the number of stories in the world of like dads or moms, for that matter, being super obsessed with a certain, I don’t know, side interest and just like always being fishing or a like always being hunting or always, you know what I mean? Like, I feel like it's pretty normal to get super into something. But I also think that some of these responses are super on point in terms of is it creeping into the rest of his life? Is is he displaying others sort of concerning behavior? And I think the therapy thing is a good point because this could sort of ramp up into something that blows up in people's faces instead of being an actual way that he faces an issue.

Amory: Yeah, I've messaged raftwife and I'm looking for an update. I hope we get an update to see if she does talk to her husband or if he does end up going to the doctor. Or, as someone else commented, can we get any pictures of these rafts at least? So I'm hoping to share more in a future episode. But for now...

Ben: Can't wait.

Amory: We’ll just all float on.

Ben: We'll be back next week with a full episode, as per usual. Until then, float on.

Josh Swartz Twitter Producer, Podcasts & New Programs
Josh is a producer for podcasts and new programs at WBUR.