Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Becoming a Londoner

So true to form, practice what you preach and all of that moral yadda yadda.

The Friday before I was supposed to leave for the States for a business trip, as kind of happens, I was at a pub after work with Specs and Sweets and their intern who I'll call Spaz. Spaz is a wonderful guy but he's a bit of a kook. I mean this in the nicest of ways.

Anyway, we were happily drinking and having a good time, it having been one of the nicer sunny days (we were really starting to believe that winter was over and spring had arrived, contrary to everything that we'd been seeing for the past several weeks) and discussion was steadily flowing.

I had my backpack with me, as well as my purse (separate, as I usually carry them), because it was after work and I was to be traveling early the next morning. My backpack had my work laptop, paper notebook, as well as my gym essentials (as it does double duty in this capacity).

I looked to my left to stare at the guy who was sitting there. Nothing remarkable - mid to late 30's male, darker skin, dark hair, wearing a long sleeve black jacket. We made eye contact and nothing interesting was exchanged. I looked away from him. My backpack was on the ground and I was sitting on my purse.

Within a minute or so of that, I look down on the floor and my backpack is gone. So is the man sitting next to me. I jump up from my chair and exclaim that my backpack is gone. Quick thinking is Sweets' specialty and we were immediately outside looking for the guy, since I knew what he looked like. Sweets knew what my backpack looked like so we separated ways to try to hunt him down.

15 minutes later and nothing. There are unfortunately a lot of exit routes from this particular pub, which is located near Paddington. So all was gone, just like that.

We walk back to the pub and Sweets dials the police for me and tells me to report it as she goes in to talk to the barmen about what happened. I make my police report and am as thorough as possible.

I walk into the pub and am immediately apologized to by the barman of the night. They have CCTV cameras inside the pub as well as everywhere outside so it's likely it was caught all on film but the idea of actually getting this guy and bringing him in seems slim. I still file the report and have given the police everything I can. It's likely the pub will be contacted by them and the film collected for evidence.

The barman offers Sweets and I a free shot, compliments of the house for our troubles. We get premium repasado tequila which is very awesomely accompanied by a slice of orange and cinnamon (the barman and I congratulate each other on knowing this much better variation, rather than the commonly known lime and salt combination). We go back to our seats where Spaz and Specs still sit and explain what happened.

I text my boss and arrangements are made to immediately brick my machine though it's almost not necessary as it is encrypted and double password protected. I'm careful about my machine and my work is appropriately backed up on a cloud in order to be as hampered as little as possible in situations like this. Similar to my phone behavior, switching from machine to machine is not a big deal for me. I like being mobile. Adaptable. Still, the inconvenience of this situation strikes me hard and makes me angry. I can't help but scowl into the night and hold my anger inside, not wanting to show my friends how much it pisses me off, though of course they can tell how much it upsets me.

My boss is sympathetic and doesn't blame me for the situation. Immediately it's arranged that I will get a new machine and in the meantime a loaner will be available when I land. The glory of having an amazing manager. I will never take this for granted.

So the night continues and conversation resumes. For awhile I forget as much as possible what has happened. Laptops are replaceable. No one was hurt.

As we are parting for the night and I am waiting for my late night train I check my voicemail messages. I hear an unfamiliar voice and it tells me a man and a wife found my bag in a pile of rubbish outside a hotel near Paddington. They found my number inside the bag (I always write my contact details inside my notebooks) and they wanted to find me and return it to me. I immediately call them back and find them about 15 minutes later.

Everything is inside except the laptop, which is not too surprising. I feel better getting back my sentimental items - the backpack I've had and taken care of since elementary school that has been with me around the world, the keychains my cousin bought for me in Japan, my favorite pair of running shoes, my expensive face lotions that are difficult to get abroad.

The thief didn't know what he could have stolen. He took the one thing he thought would be worth the most - a laptop that he won't be able to sell unless he completely reimages it. Encrypted and double password protected at least. A machine we bricked as soon as we knew it was missing, which was within an hour of the situation (and only that long because I was filing a police report and talking to the bar staff, otherwise it would have been sooner). I didn't even have the charger with it because I have one at home and one at the office (so I don't have to carry anything extra). Even if the charger was with it, it would have been a US charger instead of one from the UK. That's just how I roll.

And so I already have my loaner and my new laptop will be ready in less than 2 days. My work continues just as it would have normally, because he didn't think it worth it to steal my notebook, which oddly I just started earlier that week (so it had almost no work in it, but the work inside it was precious still, nonetheless).

Specs tried to cheer me up and say this is just a right of passage in becoming a Londoner. Maybe so.

If that's the truth, then I'm definitely on my way.

Don, you have no idea who you're dealing with. If you think this is going to phase me, just wait for what I have in store for you. This town hasn't seen anything from me yet.

[Update since this post was originally written:

The police have finished their investigation and found nothing of use on any of the CCTV footage. Apparently the guy knew that there were cameras and avoided all of the angles that would have shown him stealing the bag. Since there is no actual video footage of him taking the bag, the police can't do anything about it. So for now the case is being closed with no conclusions.

However, since they have all of the identifying information about my laptop (serial number, model number, etc), should they find it later, it will be returned to me and the person prosecuted. Likewise if someone matching my crime is caught later via a different crime, my case may be added onto theirs.

Disappointing but not surprising. Still glad I filed the report.]


  1. Aww... sorry to hear about your bag and laptop. Glad you got your backpack and sentimentals back!

    1. Thanks, I'm over it now. Silly but I didn't write the details - they also took/threw away my flip flops and hair clip. I'm assuming they did this because they were on the outside of the bag and it would have been strange for an older man to have these on his backpack. I think the girly keychains would have given him away first though, if he were worried. ;)