That day I lost my car in Atlantic City (NJ)

That day I lost my car in Atlantic City (NJ)

I needed a break from studying, a nightmarish winter session, and not enough sleep. The plan was to meet my friends for a weekend of fun and excitement away from it all in Atlantic City New Jersey. We had all been there before. There was going to nothing out-of-the ordinary about this trip, except for the level of rejuvenation I both needed and was expecting from purchasing the vacation. I did not expect what was to come three short days later.

The trip began like any other I had taken with friends from school. Except this time, I was carrying a briefcase with my lap top, a bankers box filled with textbooks, and a whole lot of pills and drugs. Indeed, moments after planning the get-away, I was already realizing the task of completing my winter session without getting some work done on the trip. So, along for the ride, was a thousand dollars of various text books, from English composition to disabilities studies, all of them were packed in the back of my Toyota Camry, the first car I had ever owned. Aside from the books, was a lazy susan filled with all kinds of prescription pills, and another with marijuana and various other street drugs.

Too be very honest, I don’t remember much of the trip. I am told by friends they had a good time. My experience, or at least from what I remember, is very different. My memory begins in the hotel room the morning of departure back home. I am screaming on the phone away from my friends so they wouldn’t hear the content of the conversation. I was on the phone with GEICO, the insurance company and my carrier:

“what do you mean I don’t have theft?!”. I had just returned from the parking lot of the hotel where I thought I had parked my car.

But the car wasn’t there. And I wasn’t really looking in a parking lot, per se. It seems I had brazenly parked my car by the lobby entrance in the drop-off passenger pick up area where people idle while they drop off luggage or pick up their family after checkout or registration. It wasn’t a parking lot of any kind. After just a few moments of searching for the car, I gave up. I knew better than to look for a car that I believe was clearly stolen.

Back in the room I was seething. Screaming at GEICO and demanding a replacement vehicle or money to compensate my loss. But there was no compensation, no help from GEICO of any kind. It also seems that GEICO doesn’t replace cars stolen due to misadherence to prescription medication, 72 hour binders, and first episode psychosis. So, with my books under one arm, and my pills or what was left of them in the other, I took the bus home.

But the bus didn’t quite get me home. There was no direct line from Atlantic City to my place back in Binghamton or in the suburbs of New York City where my parents resided. The bus pulled into the New York City Port Authority three hours after leaving Atlantic City without a vehicle. I was resigned to never let anything like this happen again and to get another vehicle as fast as possible.

So, I did what any self-respecting person would do that just had their car stolen. I went to Toyota of Manhattan to purchase a vehicle. After hours of looking at cars, and working with the sales manager, I got a deal which required a thousand dollar down payment on a new Toyota Corolla. But I only had two hundred dollars, what was left of my trip to Atlantic City after a weekend of partying. I didn’t know what to do, I didn’t have enough money, so I slept on the floor of the dealership to try to buy myself some time to think of a plan. By the time the salesmen said :

“Mr . Guttman, this is a car dealership, you cant sleep on the showroom floor…” I knew the trip to Atlantic City was finally over.

Five years later. I get a call from an impound lot in New Jersey, Atlantic City. It seems the car was stolen, it was towed. I misplaced it. Apparently, I was parked in a tow zone and shortly after my arrival in Atlantic City the car was already on the way to the impound lot that would be its home for the next five years. When I went down to visit the car, the trunk was a time capsule from five years before. Still, in the cup holder, was my drink from the ride down to the hotel.

Like I said, it was like no trip before. And, hopefully, it will be yet another singular experience in the ongoing saga of this writer’s trials and tribulations with the general ongoing status of his mental health affairs.

Attached document to friends explaining the trips details

Email to school staff post incident

J. Peters

J. Peters

Max Guttman '08, MSW '12, is the owner of Recovery Now, a private mental health practice. Through his work as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, therapist and disability rights advocate, Max fights for those without a voice in various New York City care systems. He received a 2020 Bearcats of the Last Decade 10 Under 10 award from the Binghamton University Alumni Association. Guttman treats clients with anxiety and depression, but specializes in issues related to psychosis or schizoaffective spectrum disorders. He frequently writes on his lived experiences with schizophrenia. "I knew my illness was so complex that I’d need a professional understanding of its treatment to gain any real momentum in recovery," Guttman says. "After undergraduate school and the onset of my illness, I evaluated different graduate programs that could serve as a career and mechanism to guide and direct my self-care. After experiencing the helping hand of my social worker and therapist right after my 'break,' I chose social work education because of its robust skill set and foundation of knowledge I needed to heal and help others." "In a world of increasing tragedy, we should help people learn from our lived experiences. My experience brings humility, authenticity and candidness to my practice. People genuinely appreciate candidness when it comes to their health and recovery. Humility provides space for mistakes and appraisal of progress. I thank my lived experience for contributing to a more egalitarian therapeutic experience for my clients."
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