Thursday, July 22, 2010

HNT - When Bad Things Lead To Good People

Last Thursday was a busy day for me. I worked at the store all day, then had a 4:00 PM business meeting in downtown Toronto, and then when that was done, I was heading to Waterloo to check-in to the Collegiate Retail Alliance conference, which, when blended with the Ratex User Group conference that immediately followed it, meant 5 days.  I was to stay at the hotel just for the first two nights in order to be there for the early start times.

So, I had packed my suitcase with the basic essentials (socks, underwear, toiletries, t-shirts, shorts, the glasses I wear when I take my contact lenses out, a hardcover novel I was reading), had a suit bag for my jackets, dress shirts and dress pants, and I was ready to go.

I parked in the lot on the corner of Bloor and Church, prepaying for 1 hour and 15 minutes of time (what I was estimating was going to be 15 minutes more than I needed), then headed to my meeting in the OMDC offices across the street.

The meeting went extremely well, but ran longer than I'd expected. When the meeting stretched to the time I had pre-paid until, I was slightly worried I'd be getting a ticket. After all, it was rush hour. So at about 5:20, I was rushing down to try to get to my truck before the inevitable ticket.

When I got to the truck, there was no ticket on my dash but the driver-side door was cracked open. My heart leapt into my throat. But, looking in, my suit jacket was hanging there, and the box of books I was bringing to the conference was still under it. However, when I opened the door, I saw that my suitcase, which was sitting on the floor, was missing. Also missing was my soft-side cooler lunch bag. But the video projector, which was behind my suitcase, was still sitting there.

So, they'd just taken my suitcase and lunch bag, but left the piece of electronics (likely too large and bulky) and hadn't even found the small tin of change I kept in the car as my "emergency parking meter/Tim Hortons" fund. It seemed obvious that, though they were able to pick the lock quickly and discretely, due to the rush-hour crowd walking by less than 5 feet away and in clear site, they merely took the suitcase and lunch bag (likely hoping to find drugs, small electronics and other goodies inside) and walked away as if it were their vehicle, witnesses being none the wiser.

I know I'll never see what was stolen again. The most expensive thing they got was my glasses. And it was frustrating to lose the collection of travel toiletries I always kept with me -- small convenient things from toothpaste, a tooth brush, disposable razer, travel shoe buff pad, painkillers, travel size contact lens solution bottle, etc. Among t-shirts, underwear and socks, I also lost two really nice pairs of shorts that Francine had just bought me. One pair of which I'd hadn't even worn yet. And, even more frustrating, a copy of Justin Cronin's THE PASSAGE, which I was about 60 pages away from finishing (A great novel, it was getting really really good and I imagined finishing it in the hotel because staying up late to read in bed wouldn't inconvenience Francine)

The lunch bag had an outside pocket that holds a small thermos which I used every day to bring coffee to work. I had just bought a new thermos when the old one cracked. The ice pack inside and the re-usable container that day's lunch had been in were of course, gone with the bag. Francine really liked that container as it was part of a set we often used for family picnics.

My more expensive clothes, the dress shirts, pants and sports jacket, were still there, but before heading to the conference, I needed to report the crime and head back to Hamilton to fetch underwear, socks, t-shirts and a new set of toiletries. Pretty fortunate for me. And on the plus side, it meant I got to see Francine and Alexander again.

Most of the items stolen weren't of much value in the monetary sense. But they had personal value that went far beyond. The suitcase had belonged to my mother in law, so there was sentimental value to it. My suitcase had the plastic blue Spider-Man name/address tag on it that my son bought me for Christmas one year.  I often travelled with it, and the "kiddie" tag was a great way to identify my black bag from a plethora of others when retrieving it at the end of a flight. The pairs of underwear I lost were among my favourite novelty print boxers. The pair of sandals in my suitcase were a comfortable well-worn pair I was quite fond of.

But it could have been worse. I could have lost the more expensive clothes, and I could have left my laptop bag in the truck. Or they could have broken the window (though that's not likely during rush hour, but still), or broken the lock. Even more horrible, they could have hotwired and stole the truck which is a gigantic sentimental item for me, since it used to be my father's pick-up and still had the vanity plates I was able to transfer into my name when he died.

So that's the good news. And, of course, since I have the best wife and son in the world, by the time I got back to Hamilton, Francine and Alexander had already been out to Mark's Work Warehouse getting me a couple of new pairs of shorts, some t-shirts to wear under my dress shirts, some toiletry items, a new pair of sandals.

And, sure, I lost the book I'd been reading. The frustration of not being able to finish it right away was worse than the $32.95 it cost. But, good news for the Waterloo campus bookstore and Random House Canada and the author is that I bought this book again a few days later. Not bad, two sales of the same book from a single person. I'm sure it doesn't hurt the economy or state of the book industry for that one extra sale. (Just trying to focus on the positive here)

But the cutest, most wonderful plus about this experience is when I was getting ready to prep my lunch upon returning back to my regular workplace for Wednesday. I was speculating about what I was going to use to carry my lunch in, when Alexander offered me the use of his insulated WALL-E lunch bag, since the Kindergarten school year was over and he didn't need to pack a lunch.

That, and for a few days now he has been talking about creating an invention for my truck -- a trap that will catch anyone who tries to break in. "That's my boy!" said Poppa Bunny.

So off I go to work, again today, toting my kiddie lunch bag.  At least nobody else at work is going to confuse their lunch for mine.  (Although, now that I'm in the market for a new lunch container, I'd LOVE to find one that looks like the lunch box that WALL-E carries around in the movie)

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