Naked (in the) City

No, I’m not running naked around Vancouver, that’s just how I feel.  Naked, violated, really pissed and sad/emotional/weepy. Met a friend after work on Friday for a catch up dinner at Judas Goat, a favourite spot for  Spanish tapas and wine.  It was, as always, great.

judas goat mural

Hadn’t yet solved all the problems of the world, and we really wanted the Terrina de Chocolate from our other favourite tapas bar, Sardine Can, so we wandered across the square and settled in at the bar for some sinfully good chocolate and a glass of amontillado.  All is right with the world, right?  Wait  . . .

As we were getting ready to leave I reached down for my purse, which was (I thought) tucked down at my feet under the bar. That’s wierd . . no purse.  Small panic ensues while we (and the fantastic staff) search every nook and cranny of this tiny, 20 seat restaurant.  Then disbelief.  No purse.  It has to be there, it can’t just be gone.  How could that happen, how could it not be there?  I go back to the first restaurant to check, but no, it’s not there either.  At this point it starts to sink in that my entire purse is really, truly, absolutely gone.  Stolen.  And what was in there . . .only most of my life, or at least that’s how it feels.  I had been heading home from work, so it had all the stuff I needed for the weekend, including a brand new iPad.  Damn.

The great staff at the restaurant turned on iPhone tracking from their phones and we could see it was still within 2 blocks, but after 30 minutes of searching the back alleys of the downtown eastside, we knew we weren’t going to find it.   Called the police, what a waste of breathe.  Their response to a stolen purse in Gastown “that’s too bad”.  When I said my house keys were in the purse and how would I get into my house the said “call a locksmith”.  At 11pm on the Friday of the long weekend? Was sorely tempted to yell some pretty serious cuss words, but just hung up.  I know Gastown isn’t the westside, but seriously.  I wonder if a theft in Yaletown gets the same “we don’t give a rat’s ass” response?  Borrowed money for bus fare home and made the long, cold (sweater was in the purse) ride back to the North Shore.  Was prepared to bust a window, but fortunately the hide-a-key was there, so was able to get in.

Saturday morning, time to take stock of the damage.  What’s missing – 2 phones and an iPad.  Shit.  Wallet with all ID, credit cards, money etc.  Shit.  Best sunglasses.  Damn.  Time to start calling and cancelling everything . .. oh wait, I don’t have a phone . . .got rid of my home phone years ago.  It is beginning to sink in how cut off from the world I am.  I keep, literally, everything on my phone.  Powered up my old home PC (a dinosaur from the dark ages – I’m typing on it now!)  and managed to get online.  Was supposed to be leaving Saturday morning to visit friends in West Kelowna, do some wine touring, hang out on the beach – you know, a fun Labour Day weekend. Instead have to cancel and take care of this mess.

I borrowed my daughter’s phone and started making calls. Dozens of calls.  Cancel credit and debit cards, suspend phone accounts, etc, etc.   The good news, no activity on my bank or credit accounts.  The dumbass that stole half my life had credit cards they could buy a car with and all they tried to do was buy a Big Mac.  Thank goodness for chip and pin cards, but seriously, my life has been turned upside down by someone looking for spare change?  FML.  Will take about 7 – 10 days to get everything replaced, then I have to start updating all my automatic payments.  Had to cancel a card last year for fraudulent activity, I know only too well how long this is going to take.

Then I had to call the IS department at work, confess what happened and have them kill the devices and scrub all data.  Sure was looking forward to that.  When I say I keep everything on my phone, I mean EVERYTHING.   Sent an SOS to my help desk and, even on the long weekend, they respond right away.  Good luck using those devices now.  And at least my personal information is secure.  Those guys rock.

Let’s see, what else is a priority.  Nexus card, that magic card issued by Homeland Security that gives me “trusted traveller” access across the border.  It’s linked to every single piece of data about me, as well as fingerprints and iris scan.  You keep it in a special sleeve that prevents it being read by any other devices.  Better call Homeland Security.  What will they do to me for losing that . . .Guantanamo Bay?  Turns out it wasn’t that bad, the card is cancelled and a new one requested. I have to go and have a personal interview with Homeland Security and explain myself . . sort of like getting sent to the principal’s office . . but I think I’ll get my card back.  That would be a devastating loss.  With how often I cross the border, can’t even imagine not having pre-approved access.

Time to figure out the order of priority to start replacing . . .well, everything.  One piece of good luck, my passport had been in my purse as I’d just come back from a couple of days working in the US, but I’d thrown it onto the dresser Friday morning. Thankfully I have one, really good piece of picture ID.  Off to the bank to get some cash and a new debit card.  Oh yeah, car keys . . .those are gone too.  I have a spare set, but will need to order another key fob – another $100.

Next priority, a phone.  That was a bit trickier as you need 2 pieces of ID to get a phone (and only 1 to access your bank account . . .hmm?) .  Managed to find an old Canadian Citizenship card circa 1985 that is govt. issued photo ID.  Got a new personal phone, and the upside is my plan is better and it’s an unlocked LG I can take to the US with me.  A little ray of sunshine. The other good news is that pretty much everything on my iPhone is saved in iCloud.  So thankful I had turned that on.  Photos, data, phone number – there were some numbers that only existed on the phone and I sure as heck don’t memorize them anymore.  What was I going to do – go knock on doors and slide notes under the stoop?   Thank you iCloud.  If you don’t have it turned on – do it.  I know there are privacy issues, but if you travel you have no privacy, so go with some backup.  Exhausted but feeling once again like a real person, it was time to quit this hot mess for the day.

My iPhone has been sending me “help I’m lost, come find me messages” since I turned on tracking and set it to lost mode.  This is what the screen was displaying. The number was one of the staff at the restaurant.  He got one sketchy message from what sounded like some young kids at 3am.  Tried sending a bunch of text messages “I want my stuff back, offering reward, no questions asked” but no response.

It’s been in and around the worst part of town at Main and Hastings, took a ride on the Skytrain and now, apparently, resides in Surrey.   Anyone who is from Vancouver will be shocked – not.

As I was lying in bed this morning I started thinking about what else I lost.  Now that the big stuff was sort of under control, I was thinking about the personal loss.   In my wallet were 3 guitar picks I’d gotten at concerts – they can’t be replaced, ever.  A silver Tiffany’s key charm from the 2010 Winter Olympics.  A couple of gift cards – gone forever.  Not to mention one of my favourite purses, a really nice Michael Kors and a Cole Hahn wallet.  The sense of loss and personal violation started to sink in.   Was messaging a friend and the tears just started sliding down my face.  I keep going to get those little personal things – a favourite lipgloss, a compact, the Karma perfume that’s my personal signature – all gone.

I usually try to figure out what’s going on with me, try to have some self awareness, and this one was really interesting.  I understand now how victims feel, the self-blame.  I keep thinking “It’s my fault, I should have been more careful”.  Or “it’s my fault, I shouldn’t have had my work phone/iPad in my purse”.  Or “how did this happen, I must have done something to contribute to this happening”.  It’s the part about blaming myself, instead of the douche-bag that stole my purse, that’s hard to get past.  And when I start thinking about the personal items I’ve lost, I keep thinking it’s my fault for being stupid enough to carry them around with me.   Then I have to remind myself that although I might have been foolish to carry that stuff around with me, someone STOLE my purse.  They committed a criminal act, not me, I’m not to blame, they are.

So that’s the sad and sorry saga of having a purse stolen.  Now that the Labour Day weekend is over I get to spend the rest of the week trying to replace all the stolen ID.  And I’ll be wondering for the next year if I’m going to have identity theft issues, because they have every single piece of information about me.  Going to keep a good thought on that one, but a close eye on everything.

I always like to finish off with some music, but I’m really stuck for what fits for this little dramafest.  So instead, here is a great band I heard for the first time at the Forecastle Festival in Louisville this summer.  Literally wandering around first thing in the morning and stumbled across them on a side stage.  Their new record is out and I love it.  The Wild Feathers are the real deal.  So glad I got to see them now.


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