Uncloaked and Vulnerable

Getting robbed is a bitch.

This is the second time I’ve been robbed in less than two years. Both times in the good ol’ USA, both times in the San Francisco Bay Area.
In 2014, someone broke into a house I lived in. They took my computer (and those of my housemates), and a lot of my memories. Notes I made in a phone book, an old address book, a really, really cheap cell phone that I used in Saudi Arabia with names and phone numbers of friends there. Some inexpensive costume jewelry that I had collected from around the world. Oddly enough, they left the gold jewelry – I guess it wasn’t shiny enough. Note to thieves: you can’t sell memories.

This time, someone broke into my hotel room, while I was there sleeping, and took my purse. Now, I have no driver’s license, no passport, no medical card, no social security card, and no employee ID card. My car key is gone, my house key is gone, and pictures that I’ve carried around of my children and grandchildren are gone. And, in that passport is an active Saudi visa.

Right now, I have only a replacement debit card – which isn’t working. So, I’m carrying more cash than I’ve ever in my life carried. But, even that’s not the kicker. I reached into my bag for tissue – but the thief had taken that. I reached into my replacement bag for a pen – but that also was gone. I have no chapstick and no lipstick. No telephone numbers scrawled on the backs of business cards. No earphones for my cell phone. No IPod (which was a gift from my children) and is so old that probably no one would buy it. Gone are my bobby pins and the hand sanitizer that I’d picked up in France. Gone is my almost used up eyebrow pencil. Gone is the little change purse that I paid next to nothing for in Egypt. The cancelled passport with my Egyptian visa and stamps from all of the countries I’ve visited over the past three years. Note to thieves: Memories don’t sell.

What did the thief get of value? Well, maybe the bag itself, which is a nice leather bag, but well worn, so it probably won’t fetch any money. Maybe the leather wallet – but I seriously doubt it. I did have $4 or $5 in my wallet, my debit card (which I cancelled) and my credit cards – also cancelled, but they did manage to buy a hamburger and some Starbuck’s coffee with one credit card.

I placed an alert on my credit reports, and notified social security of my missing card. I will notify the US State Department and DMV that my ID’s have been stolen. But, it’s hard for me to imagine that a thief who buys hamburgers and coffee will cause an international incident with my Saudi visa.

So, basically, my memories were stolen, I was inconvenienced, stressed out and violated for what amounts to about $20.00 for the thief.

Welcome to America and welcome to urban life. My friends and family said “thank God you were sleeping.” They said “At least you’re safe and weren’t hurt.” Yes, I am grateful that I was asleep and couldn’t confront the thief, who may have had a weapon. And, yes I am grateful for my family and friends. But I was hurt, not outside, but inside. Having your memories stolen hurts. Having things that you’ve gathered for years hurts. I will heal, but I won’t forget. I will get past this, but some things cannot be replaced. I am grateful for my memories – those that I hold in my head and in my heart. And, I am immensely grateful for digital photos, and virtual storage.

But, being robbed is a bitch.

**Update: The hotel contacted me and said that “a gentleman dropped my purse off” at the hotel. My daughter has collected it, and it’s on its’ way back to me, sans my credit cards, cash, iPod and earphones. I’m grateful to get it back. But, being robbed is still a bitch, and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.



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