July 6, 2007

Negligence, Tragedy and Heartbreak
Bangkok, Thailand

I feel like a kid who was just told their favorite pet died. My stomach is doing somersaults. My brain is numb from emotional overload. I'm a total wreck.

Very few things mean the most to me in my backpack—because they're the hardest to replace—and at the top of that list is my passport, camera, and few electronics that I carry. An hour ago, I realized that I'd been struck down by tragedy, but it had taken nearly 10 hours for me to realize it.

I keep my Internet cafe goodies in a small, brown, zippered pouch (about the size of my open hand). Inside that pouch is a new USB card reader/hub, Skype headset, thumb drive, and a few other miscellaneous items.

I've just discovered that this pouch is missing.

I flipped my room, and ran back to the restaurant and Internet cafe that I was at earlier this afternoon. The staff had changed since mid-day, and neither location had any idea what I was talking about.

I must have left it on the restaurant table (that sported a funky tablecloth pattern that kind of camouflaged the bag). I even remember specifically putting my sunglasses on top of the thing, so that I wouldn't forget it. And the fact that I've got my sunglasses, but not my pouch, totally and completely baffles me.

Is it possible that I took it back with me to the hotel and it was plucked out of my room? Yes, possible, but not probable. More than likely I was distracted as I was leaving the restaurant with thoughts of the rain (that had just started to let up), and the terrible meal that I'd only partially consumed.

Not long after, I was writing out an e-mail alert to my dad (and a few friends) back in the U.S., when I did a mental inventory of a the pouch… and my heart broke. I realized that I'd temporarily put a pair of camera memory cards holding every photo I'd taken in SE Asia in there, to pull off some images.

I was upset about loosing a new card reader, because that meant that I couldn't upload any written text from my PDA without buying a new one. I was upset about loosing my headset, because I've never seen anything like it for sale outside of a Radio Shack in the United States. I was upset about loosing my thumb drive, because it had a lot of sensitive information on it. But none of those things mattered, compared to loosing over two thousand irreplaceable images (of which only a handful were uploaded to the Travelvice Snapshots gallery). The entire month of May and June, gone.

How could I have been so careless?

I'm especially angry with myself because I had intended to backup all these images on my friend Aaron's laptop, but our last evening together turned wacky, and didn't allow for such things.

…(sigh)…

So now all I can do is wait until tomorrow, when I'll be able to talk with the restaurant staff that was working there earlier today. And if nothing comes of that, leave them with my contact information and a reward statement offering a ridiculous amount of baht. Maybe some cash will make my gear magically reappear.

God, I'm depressed…

Update—July 6

Nearly 14 hours of misery later, there's been a happy ending (…and not the special Thai massage kind). After a near-sleepless night of beating myself up, I returned to the restaurant in question, reward flier in hand.

I found the man that had served me my lackluster meal fiddling with the DVD player, and began our conversation by asking if he remembered me ordering the chicken in coconut soup the day before.

"Oh yes," the man suddenly recalled, "you leave little item," drawing a rectangle with his hands.

The expression on my face must have looked like I won the lottery. And I practically dropped to my knees when he produced my pouch from a hidden spot, below the desk supporting their cash register.

I genuinely couldn't thank him enough, and offered him a fist full of baht for his deed, but he wouldn't accept it. I walked out utterly flabbergasted—stunned by unexpected joy.

…All is well in the world again.

Comments:

Erik

July 18th, 2007

You're very fortunate.

It's a horribly sick feeling to lose something so important and meaningful or have it taken from you. I know first hand.

The gang of gypsy children who snatched stuff off of me in Bucharest back in March - the PDA I lost is no big deal, though I still sucks. But the hearing aid they inadvertently snatched when they grabbed a cable dangling from it - that's a major problem for someone with hearing loss.

So I'm thrilled you got your bling and photo memories back, I shared your pain when I read the first 4 paragraphs.

Craig Strong

July 19th, 2007

That post was a roller-coaster. I felt the loss and recovery with you. Now I can sleep happy.

-Craig

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