Saturday, September 28, 2013

Lost, Not Stolen

     Well, despite my telephone calls to the police, more calls to the lost-and-found, and scouring every inch of our car, I've concluded that my camera was lost, not stolen. How do I know?

     The first thing is, I'm pretty sure we locked the car on vacation, and there was no sign of forced entry. And nothing else in the car was missing.

     But the real reason I think it was lost, not stolen, requires a bit of explanation.

     To begin with, we were visiting Cape Cod, Mass., which attracts a reasonably well-heeled, middle-class type of visitor. We spent most of our time in Falmouth, which is among the more upscale towns on the Cape. Are you sensing my prejudice here? White, middle class people don't steal things, do they?

     Also, most of the people roaming the Falmouth streets after Labor Day are old enough to have kids in college or beyond. There are a lot of retired people living on Cape Cod. Retired people don't pilfer things out of cars.

     But here's what really convinced me. I have just started volunteering at our local community college, as a writing tutor for students who want help on the essays and papers they have to produce for English, history, sociology and any other class requiring written work. When I was applying for the position (yes, there was an application, an interview, and two writing tests) the head of the writing center warned me that the students might not be like the kinds of kids I was used to. They are not the sons and daughters of upper-middle-class professionals, the kids taking AP courses and aiming for law school, grad school or med school.

     According to the university website almost 50% of students "claim minority status," which is the highest percentage of minority students of any college in the New York state system. And the writing coordinator told me that for some of the kids English is neither the first language they learned, nor the language they speak at home.

     So I went to my first session on Thursday. I was heading off to another  appointment later in the day, so I brought along my laptop computer, a small bag of clothes, my cellphone and a few other things that were all tossed into the backseat. The parking lot was pretty full, but I also saw a city bus pull up and drop off a group of kids, about half males and half females, all of them nonwhite.

     I found a parking space. I slipped on a sports jacket. I locked the car. And I walked off to the library where I would start my new "job."

     I reported for duty at the writing center, and found the whole experience very interesting -- a topic for another blog post -- and then finally, three hours later, I walked back across campus, past a gaggle of kids waiting for a bus, and found my car. I pressed the button on my key to unlock the doors. I slipped into the driver's seat. And that's when I noticed that the window on the front passenger's side of the car was wide open!

     I turned quickly to check my backseat. The pile of stuff was still lying there, untouched. My cellphone was propped up against a bag. My laptop computer sat on top, just the way I'd left it.

     Obviously, when I'd parked my car, I'd buzzed the window down, instead of up. And so, despite having left my car wide open, with laptop in full view, at the multicultural community college, full of a diverse group of kids in their late teens and 20s, nothing had been touched. So how could my camera have been stolen out of a locked car in tony Falmouth, Mass.?


Anonymous said...

You buzzed the window down when you thought it went up? You locked your car yet unknowingly had the window open? You did all of that without knowing that you did it? Yet you swear you locked your car in Cape Cod? How can you be certain when you did all of the above, unknowingly?

I live in a far, far wealthier neighborhood than you, and our police are repeatedly warning us NOT to leave any valuables in a car. The richest kids will break into our cars just to get the loose change we leave in the coffee cup holders. They've broken into cars parked at the supermarket, library and shopping center, as well as the recreation center and dog walking park without breaking a window or leaving behind one thin hair (as evidence to catch them).
You answered your own question. Yes, Virginia....there really is a Santa Claus and just because you live in a rich neighborhood doesn't mean your stuff isn't going to get stolen.
I find it very difficult to believe you misplaced your camera. I find it more plausible that since your last reckoning of your camera was in the back seat of your car, and since there is no way to confirm you locked your car, my gut feeling tells me it was stolen. A quick trip to a pawn shop or Craigs list (have you looked there?) might have turned it up. That's good money made to buy MOLLY or something as good.

Douglas said...

Yes, Tom, your prejudices are showing. Both about the "tony" area and the "diverse" kids. I would guess that's actually both sides of the same coin. Appearances deceive. The "tony" areas have crime, even petty criminals. the "diverse" areas have mostly honest people. It's okay, I think we all have prejudices of a similar type... We are, after all, only human.

Stephen Hayes said...

Life is full of mysteries. Maybe those kids were too immersed in their social media devices to notice that your window was down, and maybe old white people are more larcenous than you think.

Barb said...

I tend to think your generalizations are off the mark on this one. I spent most of my life living in a multi ethnic, multi income area with extremely low crime and have lived in expensive areas with higher crime. I think you just got lucky with the laptop.

That said, I am a girl who has lost a camera in her own home for over two months (and I am not a slob or a hoarder), I would not put it past that you may have set the camera down or forgotten it. You have searched all those nooks and crannys I assume?

Olga said...

My theory is that the camera accidentally fell out of the car when you were grabbing something else.
Have you now learned a lesson? And is it about being more careful or being less judgmental?

Linda Myers said...

I think it will turn up months down the road, and then you'll remember.

DJan said...

Any place that has lots of students is rife with petty theft. I had the window of my car smashed out and my purse taken, with my iPad and camera among the things taken. My credit card had been used before I was able to stop its use, four times in fact. The police told me that the busy park where this happened is hit several times every week.

I do hope your camera turns up one day, but it might just be gone, with all those irreplaceable pictures. So sorry!

Barbara Torris said...

I loved your line of reasoning...the camera was such a wonderful symbol for our prejudices. It does show us that people are all the same no matter what. Some are good and some are not. If we were blind, we would "see" the whole thing differently. I suppose many would hold a great grudge against Cape Cod if they didn't see affluence everywhere.

Thank you for this one Tom. It was very good. Oh, and good luck with that volunteer experience.

b+ (Retire in Style Blog)

Anonymous said...

I live in a working to lower working class neighborhood(many on the dole as they say) there is more stealing here now than ever..People put their cars in their garage and lock everything up. We live by a high school the kids who try to gather on the walkway are not high school kids, but drug kids, the police are here left and right I never walk that way ever in the fall or the 200 plus days of the raining season here in the pacific northwest I must take a different route, I even get up very early to take my bus to the library at the mall & I am allowed to bring in my coffee carrier and mug and goodies as I am cheap & I don't want to make MacDonalds richer than they already are, I always bring tea, then I bus it to all over and get home early and walk quickly or get picked up by my hubby..We live within a walking 3/4 mile from a police station and there is more crime now than before they built it and manned it and then because of huge budget cuts let a lot of the police go towards the downtown area, go figure..the criminals know where to strike everydamn where, I carry identification and my bus pass and little else..It just goes to show you there are thieves most everywhere, and I do live in an area of mostly working people who would never steal anything!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Just because an area is considered uber wealthy and has wealthy inhabitatants doesn't mean there is low crime, on the contrary more stuff is stole in broad daylight a realtor told us that many years ago when we sold our lovely home in Aurora, Colorado, ours was considered a wealthy area, many were professional big wigs except us after we had our only child we sold and moved, to a smaller home, smaller mortgage and nice place, then they built a senior high school our only went to that high school and junior college (running start for free) second year they offered it, books she got free from a benefactor of the college. Now the school has two police resource officers, a gentlemen my age nearly 65 waiting to retire and a spitfire of a young lady my daughter graduated from all thru school wonderful nearly 36, she tells us everything she can, it is the den of inequity with drug dealers who send people to sell their many wares, oh, my living crap..they enlist a whole lotta those high school kids, of course they don't take the crap, nor the big dealers, but get the younger ones hooked..big problem..But the task force has set up many busts on our walkway and parents man it most days and evenings, still I cannot walk that way anymore and we lock everything up tighty and have put in many motion lights but we wonder if it will deter drugs, the kids who get hooked don't have parents who really care or they would know something is up, they don't...Crime is a lot in the uber wealthy area the policeoffice told us so..they have more money for private police and security systems than working people..