Sigh. Tonight I was covering a high school basketball game. I have all kinds of gear now- video camera on a tripod while standing beside it shooting stills, wearing my regular camera bag, etc etc. There is a lot of Et Cetera.
I was transferring all the stills from the first part of the game onto my work laptop. It was still transferring files at the end of a very close, tensely rivalled game, and I knew the celebration shots would be great. I covered the laptop with my coat, which was tucked in a corner behind four security guards and moved back to the edge of the court to shoot the final buzzer. I turned my back on it for just a few moments, but the crowd swept through between me and my gear and I couldn't get to it.
When I got back to the corner, the laptop and my coat were gone. My wallet, my keys, and my work and personal cell phones were in the pockets of my coat. Imagine this: no way to get home, no way to drive my car, no way to call my husband, the keys to my house and my home address (printed on my drivers' license) in the hands of thieves. Also, they could have walked through the parking lot making the lights of my car blink with the keychain thingy and then helped themself to my car. Now, this is the high school inmy town, so I could have walked home, but you know, no coat. Also, no way to open the door to my apartment, which I am now imagining being ransacked by whomever has my keys.
Although, truth be told, Bella is a total moosh with us, WOE BETIDE anyone who threatens us. She's an AlphaGrrl, anyway, and grew pretty protective of me when we lived in Miami. WOE BETIDE THEM is all I'm saying.
Oh yes, all the photos from the game, except for the very end of it, which were supposed to be tomorrow's Sports section front, are gone. Awesome!
To say that "I freaked out" would be an understatement. There were cops already there, since fights tend to break out at rivalled games, so they went and stood by my car. The athletic director made an announcement offering a cash reward for its return as students flooded out of the gym. Someone loaned me a cell phone so I could call the night desk at the paper. My editors were so incredibly kind and supportive throughout all of this. Wow. Just... wow.
Meanwhile, I tried to call Joel. His phone was off, but I knew he was having dinner with his parents and then going to our friends' house for guys game night. Of course everyone's phone numbers are stored in my phone, which was gone. I called information, who connected me to the home of Osc@r R!os, but apparently not you know, not OUR Osc@r Rios.
Lady Who Is Not Mitzi: Hello?
Me: Hi, Mitzi. Is Joel there yet?
Lady Who Is Not Mitzi: Who is this?
Me: It's Angie.
Lady Who Is Not Mitzi: Who is this?
(Not sure how to clarify beyond "It's Angie.")
Me: It's Angie; hi, sorry, I'm crying and it's really loud here.
Lady: Who do you want to speak to?
Me: Um... Is Oscar there? I'm sorry. I had to call 411 to get connected. Is this the Rioses?
Lady: This is Oscar's wife.
Me: See, but... I'm friends with her, and I think she would get who this is by now.
Lady Who Is Not Mitzi: Bye.
411 connects me to my in-laws' house. My mother-in-law puts Joel on the phone right away and I choke out the story. I tell Joel he has to come home now. Oh, and he also has to come pick my sorry ass up.
Weepy weeping ensues. The cops have been scouring the school, and they have located my wallet in a trash can. Everything is in it except for the cash, which was only $20, so that's fine. Not great, but fine. I start to breathe again and stop imagining Bella, Fred and Ollie going all "Home Alone" on people trying to break into the apartment. Once of the officers finds my coat, which has my keys in it. I realize with pants-pissing relief that my car isn't going anywhere AND now I won't have to tell my deaf-and-in-denial landlord he will have to change the locks. Can you imagine?
Me: I'm so sorry, but you'll have to change the locks.
Deaf and In Denial Landlord: Socks? No laundry after 10!
Me: No, Mr. M. The LOCKS. Someone stole my keys.
DIDL: Freeze! the thermostat goes on at 70, every time 70.
Me: This is why I don't have a working doorbell, isn't it?
BETTER YET.... They only took my work phone. They didn't check the other pocket, because who carries two cell phones? I mean, besides me. So I have my own phone back!
Of course I can't call Joel to tell him the good news that I have my keys and no one is breaking into our house, because his cell phone is still off. I'm making a note to have a Very Important Discussion About! Turning! On! Our Cell Phones! as it pertains to the Gaul-Jackel Marriage when another officer finds the oh-so-pricey Internet Connecty card that gets my laptop onto the web on in the parking lot.
The only things missing now are my work cell phone and my work laptop.
I filed a police report and let the office know I have my own phone back. Again with the kind and supportive. My editors were just awesome. I would just drive home, but Joel is on his way to pick my sorry ass up. And I can't tell him not to, because again with his phone and the turned offy-ness.
I pass the time until he shows up to start texting my work cell phone, offering reward money for the laptop and asking the thief to please, please give me my laptop back. I tell them the phone will be disconnected soon, and it will be useless to them. I keep texting, begging, offering cash, and then, THE THIEF TEXTS ME BACK.
He or she would give me my phone back, but they're already in Yonkers. Oh. Ho hum. Too lazy to drive five miles. Also, they didn't steal my phone, so "don't call the cops on [them]." I tell them that it's all good, no questions asked, we can make it right, just bring it all back for reward money. The thief suggests we meet tomorrow, and I explain about my deadlines and the laptop. But then... they don't have the laptop, and they swear they don't know who does. I ask them if the person who gave them my phone knows, and the texter swears they don't. I offer cash for the info, and in ALL CAPS the new owner of my work phone tells me "REALLY DONT KNOW."
Alrighty. I don't know why they want my phone as the screen was shattered and the battery flap back thingy was missing. I tell them the number will stop working in a few minutes since the office reported it stolen and texted them a good night. Oh, yes, I did. Because good manners are free! And so are laptops! Because I suck!
Joel shows up during the texting. He went home and got my spare car key so I can drive myself home. He also armed himself with a baseball bat and collected our fireproof valuables. I pull up in front of the house and find my mother-in-law walking Bella. Joel's parents, bless them, hopped in their car and drove here from Queens right after Joel left their house. They figured they could at least keep an eye on the apartment. His mom says she didn't think there was anything she could do but call 911 if someone had come here, equipped with my address and keys, but I don't know about that.
If there's anything stupider than threatening me in front of my dog; it's threatening Joel in front of his mom. WOE BETIDE THEM is all I'm saying. WOE BETIDE THEM.
And there you have it: stupidity on my part, weird bad luck, theft, recovery, benevolent bosses, loyal and loving in-laws and text-messaging a total stranger in possession of my professional belongings. Just a Friday night in my life.