Thursday, October 23, 2008

Woe Is Me

My wonderful week of vacation was capped off with a rather crappy ending. After visiting London and Stockholm, seeing friends and family along way, I was robbed on the train home to Copenhagen. Due to some kind of accident in the Swedish rail system, my scheduled afternoon ride home was delayed for many hours. After blowing the little that was left of my Swedish cash in the train station bar, I was ready to check into a hotel for the night and try again in the morning. At the last second they announced a night train to Malmo, a city just across the water from Copenhagen. I went to the ticket office and was given a ticket for a bed on the train.

I threw my clothing bag into the luggage room, but kept my backpack with me. I tucked into bed after chatting with a couple of really anti-Semitic Pakistani guys who shared my room (did you know that the Jews manufactured this financial crisis to solidify their already-firm grip on the world economy? Me either!) with my backpack on my bed furthest from the door. I slept really well and woke up around 5:30 am, around an hour before my train was due to arrive in Malmo. It took me a second to realize it in the darkness of the room, but my backpack was gone. Panic set in really quickly - everything was in that bag: my passport, wallet, keys to my apartment, as well as my digital camera, brand-new laptop, iPod, and school stuff. I freaked out.

I tore all the sheets off the bed, frantically looking for the bag I knew had been taken. I quickly realized that I was wasting time, and perhaps whoever did this was still in the hallway. I ran out and looked everywhere in the immediate vicinity, but to no avail. It was quiet and empty. My next thought was to find some train personnel. I didn't know what else to do. I found someone rather quickly and explained what happened, and was met with an empathetic shrug and a suggestion to talk to the police. The train had made several stops already, and the theft could have happened at any point after I fell asleep. Someone overheard us and walked up to me. He told me that he had just seen a black backpack in the bathroom. I have never run so fast in my life. I burst into the bathroom, the closest one to my room, and there was my backpack by the trashcan. By the time it was in my hands I knew the laptop was gone by the weight of the thing. You know how they say there aren't any atheists in a foxhole? I have never agreed with that statement so strongly. As I went through the various pockets, I prayed I would find something.

And I did. Whoever this jerk was, they had the decency (or stupidity, take your pick) to leave my passport, keys, wallet with all my credit cards, and my iPod. Gone were my laptop, digital camera, sunglasses, and a bit of cash. I was as relieved as someone can be after having thousands of dollars in stuff vanish. If the whole bag had gone missing, I would have been totally and utterly screwed. I would have had no way to get to Copenhagen, and even if I could I would have way to get into my apartment. Nevermind the passport situation. I shuffled back to my room and surveyed the scene of the crime. The Pakistani guys in the top bunks were up at this point, and after I told them what happened they immediately offered to show me their stuff so I wouldn't suspect them. Suffocating regret set in as I took measure of what I had lost. Aside from the monetary value of the stuff, I lost schoolwork, my access to the Internet, and hundreds of pictures that I had taken on the trip thus far. I thought about what I should have done differently, and there wasn't too much I could think of. I guess I could have worn the backpack or tied it to me or something.

I was complacent because I was in Sweden. I didn't expect, for whatever reason, that theft of this kind would go down in such a supposedly advanced country. I was wrong, and won't ever forget the lesson. It's been a few days now and I have settled down a bit, but I am still pretty upset. I have reported this to the Swedish police, but I don't expect anything to come of it. There is some software on the laptop designed to trace it down in events like these, but it isn't likely to help either. In a twisted catch-22 of sorts, this software only works when someone logs into the computer and connects to the internet. By having a strong password on my account, and thereby protecting my data from people who try to use but not steal my computer, I have rendered my computer untraceable. Whoever this thief is, they can just wipe the hard disk and that's that.

Stealing sucks, don't do it.

No comments: