Dude, where’s my car?
It’s a question Gavin Strickland asked himself Sunday night when he came out of Metallica’s sold-out concert in Toronto and could not remember where he parked his car — a blue-green 2015 Nissan Versa Sedan.
The lost vehicle and the search for it have made the American teenager a celebrity of sorts in Toronto and social media.
“My car was found! And the story is so crazy it’s on the news all over Canada. I’ve become famous over a lost car,” he tweeted early Thursday morning, shortly after the car was found, thanks to a stranger who joined in on a downtown scavenger hunt.
“With everything going on in the world, this gives me hope that there are still good people out there,” he later told The Canadian Press in an interview.
The 19-year-old said he drove to Toronto from his hometown of Syracuse, N.Y. by himself last weekend, stopping first in Oshawa and sleeping in his car the night before the concert.
When he reached Toronto, he parked his car on the first floor of an indoor parking garage, which was an $8 cab ride away from the Rogers Centre.
But by the time Metallica finished the show, Strickland headed out only to realize that he had no idea where the garage was.
He stayed up all night wandering through parking garages without any luck. Eventually, Strickland walked into a Toronto police station near Chinatown, asking for help.
The next morning, Strickland finally texted his parents about his predicament.
“It was comical,” said his father, Eric Strickland. “The police took him in, gave him some food and drove him around town to find the thing. They could tell he’s a real respectful kid who just made an honest mistake.”
The parents turned to Craigslist on Tuesday appealing for the city to help.
“Our doofy son parked the car in an indoor parking garage, in the first floor (slightly lower / basement level) but that garage cannot now be located,” they wrote in their ad. “The car has US Florida license plates, a small Canadian flag affixed to the door frame, and a Bernie Sanders bumper sticker.”
They mentioned other clues based on their son’s memory: near a Starbucks, some construction, “a strange spiral outdoor sculpture” and “possibly a bank – maybe a RBC.”
One person responded to the ad calling it “the best scavenger hunt ever,” Eric Strickland said.
That’s exactly what it was for Madison Riddolls, the 26-year-old woman who says she was debating between staying up and calling it a night when she came across a news story about the teen’s lost car.
After reading the family’s ad, she reached out to ask for more details before heading out in flip-flops and shorts with her boyfriend.
Two hours later, Riddolls says she spotted the car in the TD Bank Tower on Wellington Street just when she was about to give up.
“We were waiting for security to be like, ‘What are you doing?'” she said. “We had a good laugh. Normally, we are watching ‘Criminal Minds’ at 9 p.m.”
The car was parked in an electric car charging station, so Riddolls spoke to the parking attendant about the situation. As a result, Gavin will only have to pay for one day of parking.
The teen’s father, who says Riddolls is his “hero,” has already sent her the $100 reward and made a donation in her name to a charity of her choice.
Riddolls will be meeting the teen late Thursday — likely with a map of Toronto in hand for his next concert in town.
“I hope Toronto gives my son a big welcome,” Eric Strickland said. “Bring him balloons and banners.”
“Also tell immigration services to accept him,” he added as a joke. “The day after Trump became president, Gavin said ‘screw this, I’m going to Canada.’ But he was turned back at the border. He would love to become a Canadian citizen.”