The shower-gel theft, or how I lost my laptop

Before you read this entry (or instead of doing so), take out your planner and write down for this week, if you haven’t yet done so, to back up all your computer files…

And now to this weekend. Murphy’s law first manifested itself to me in its full glory in Vienna the last time I’ve been there, and has since come back to bite my ass even harder.

On Friday evening a friend of mine and I set off to a picture-taking weekend. The friend, who was running a bit late to pick me up, managed to scratch another car while parking. Chance had it that the owner actually was nearby, saw it and came to claim the damage… So the trip didn’t start well from the get-go. The resulting delay meant we missed remaining daylight and expected sunset from the first stop at the ruins of something just an hour from the city.

Then we set off to the first sleep-over destination, where things seemed to have gone well. The Star-Trek styled hotel Jested (designed before Star-Trek) that would have been great to stay at was at full capacity because Czech TV was shooting something there, but at least we had a dinner there.

But then came Saturday… The original plan was to take a specific tourist route from a specific location. A few kilometers away from that location the road was closed when we arrived due to bicycle race… The sign indicated that we had 1,5 hours to wait, so we had a lunch. 1 hour 32 minutes later the road wasn’t yet open, so my friend suggested we take the same route from another spot.

When we arrived there and parked the car, I decided to take the back-up battery for the camera from the trunk. My friend unlocked the car, I took the battery, closed the trunk, looked around to see the woman with black long hair in a dark grey truck-suit with a few kids looking at us… And then I walked off to catch up with my friend who ran ahead in a hurry, even though somewhere in the back of my mind I registered one important thing: the car didn’t blink/click to lock after I closed the trunk… The retarded thing was to run off without doing the simplest thing I’d normally always do when locking the car doors (I never had a car, but I often had to go get something from cars): check if it is, indeed, locked… So I’m definitely a party to the loss.

When we almost were back at the parking lot, I knew my backpack would be gone. I don’t claim some divine premonition abilities – it was a very logical conclusion of behalf of my brain to make, considering all circumstances. But then we just got into the car without, yet again, checking anything and drove to the next town… Police stopped us on the way because two of the secondary lights weren’t working – front left and back right, weirdly enough. Once we reached the pension and got our bags out – that’s when my reasonable conclusion that the backpack was gone had been, unfortunately, confirmed…

We drove back. First we tried finding the police guys who stopped us – when my friend was checking the back light, it was possible that the backpack could be left behind. Yeah, riiight – as in someone would forget having taking something weighing over 5kg out of the car trunk and putting it nearby… Besides, why take anything out when it could simply be moved to another side? We didn’t find the patrol that stopped us but another one, asked them to ask the other guys (to no avail, of course), but at least they told us which bazars (commission stores) were open over the weekend. So we drove to the village right near that parking lot. My friend called the pension to let them know that we’d be arriving later (the latest check-in time was announced at 10pm). It turned out that they didn’t receive the booking, although they said the room was available so we could come and check in later. Then we talked to the local pub owner. He said there are a few conspicuous people in the village indeed. But it was 10pm already by then and too late for anything more to be done…

Back at the hotel, tired after a 10km hike and pretty cold, all I wanted was to take a hot shower and pass out. The room, however, was freezing cold – since they didn’t receive the booking, they only switched on the heating when we called… So much for warming up…

I’ve opened my bag to take out the stuff for the shower. To my surprise, I couldn’t find my toothpaste… I also couldn’t find my shower gel, face cream and the plastic bag they were in was torn – something that wasn’t this way that morning when I packed everything… I decided that I had forgotten those two things in the previous hotel and went to ask my friend for toothpaste… which he also couldn’t find… His toothpaste, shower gel and toothbrush were missing too! Apparently the thief (aka “that woman with black hair”) was into personal hygiene!!! No male, junkie or crazy, would ever bother targeting specifically those items (my face wash, body cream, eye cream, shampoo and conditioner – ok those were the one-use packets, but still – and leave-in conditioner, even though just as small, as well as my electric toothbrush, were left intact) – it must’ve been a female, and most likely the one that saw us leaving the car open. She even bothered to zip my bag after taking what she did (including the battery charger for the camera – something that cost me 50 euros and that she could only sell in the best case for 5). I think she was in haste because she didn’t take my toothbrush or hair dryer. Or she just didn’t look too well…

Whatever, thought I, I can use hand-soap to shower. Bathroom felt like ice-age set… I let the hot water run but realized simple showering will leave me freezing to half-death, because there was no shower-holder on the wall. I plugged the bathtub to collect enough warm water to cover up my legs and warm up before starting up on the hair and etc… Which was one smart thing I did, because just about when there was enough water in the bathtub for me to submerge my legs and thus prevent turning into an icicle, water turned cold… As (mis)fortune had it, the water heater had been only switched on when we called – not enough time ahead to fully heat. To expect the owners to make us aware of the fact that it may take a while for the water to heat when we arrived would be very un-Czech.

At this point I could only console myself with the fact that I made a good decision to not wet my hair right away. I used the little water in the tub to rinse off the day’s worth of trouble and went to sleep in the freezing cold room. It got warmer by the morning – to the degree that it was supposed to be at in the evening – but by then we were leaving already.

We’ve made a flyer to offer a reward for the laptop and found an internet cafe to print it out in – a major accomplishment in a small town like Decin on a Sunday. We also made a list of the bazars in the town that we could find online. Instead of another hike, we then set off back to the pink village (Ruzova in Czech means pink). We posted the flyers at the pubs, the bus stops and the local announcement board near food store, talked to both pubs’ owners again and went to check upon the bazars in Decin. Only one was found open on Sunday, but of course expecting something to show up so quick was unreasonable.

What gives a slight glimpse of hope is the fact that most likely the woman was local – she couldn’t walk through the woods with little kids and no stroller from any neighboring village each of them was at least 2km away. What also helps is the fact that for her to try sell an old laptop with no Czech keyboard will be a difficult task. Today was the day 1 of silence, I’m giving it a week before considering the laptop as lost forever without a hope of recovery.

On the other hand, it could’ve been worse. I actually was planning to back up all my files for a while. Over x-mas I intended to burn most things onto DVDs. My laptop refused to burn, so I transferred all my pictures to my friend’s computer. It also didn’t burn – the DVDs were corrupted… But I just got an holla that my folder with all my 22000+ pictures is still there. Which is one reason I haven’t fallen into absolute despair right away upon discovering the loss – I hoped this would be the case and my pictures wouldn’t be lost. I was also counting on buying an external hard drive, but the job that I was asked to do in February that I was going to purchase it from got cancelled… Then it was just the few very crazy weeks that followed and then, finally, my very irrational decision to take a laptop with myself to work on my thesis, even though I knew that on a trip it’d be highly unlikely to have anything done…

I’m happy that I also decided not to take my passport for the trip. Inside czech Republic, I usually don’t – I carry insurance card and university ID (both lost, but university ID is something I no longer need and insurance card will be re-sent to me upon request). I thought about taking the passport this time, but it then would’ve been very likely lost with the backpack, and THAT would’ve been living hell unfolding.

Both of my cameras – the small one I got as a gift and the Kodak one I bought myself – were on me. So were house keys, which I most often for no reason keep in the pocket (adds weight 🙂 ). I also don’t own a wallet so the money was in the pocket of my jacket, too. The cards are now all gone, though, making it very bleeping hard to operate, but they aren’t credit cards – they are debit with zero current balance. Good luck to the thief trying them out for online purchase even before they were blocked.

On the other hand, all my school stuff is gone. Including the (beginning) of my thesis. Whatever – I’ll re-write it. Just annoying. And a few hundreds of links I collected for certain purposes are also gone. Time wasted big-time… But I basically have myself and myself only to blame – all else being equal, not checking whether the car was locked when I was certain it wasn’t was just pretty darn stupid.

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About in shade

A cocktail of personality traits hard to digest for some but ultimately soothing for those who can. I observe, enjoy, travel, interact, photograph, dance, contemplate, write and love my way through this life's countless occurrences. This blog is a way to share with the world and its people some of the treasures they give me every day.
This entry was posted in All about me, Thoughts, Travel and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to The shower-gel theft, or how I lost my laptop

  1. Neo Daimyo says:

    You can never make enough back-ups… 😉

    Leave some off-site even, or in a fireproof vault, in case everything burns down…

    Cheers & Good luck…

    Neo Daimyo
    IT-Expert…

  2. debatanu says:

    Very sorry to hear about ur loss….Well u can use Google documents for a storage space of abt 1GB…ya but thats not a solution for ur snaps.. 😦 cos of the upload time…still for important docs i think its worth it…Ye and one more thing ..for the bookmarks u can use google bookmarks…its pretty good for backup…. Cloud Computing ;D… 😀

    • in shade says:

      I had very little of the “important” things, so I doubt I would have gone through the trouble of uploading each separate document… I was counting on getting an external drive, as you have read – that would be an easy drag-drop of a few folders, that I could live with… It’s a bit more annoying in terms of the TIME that I have to now waste re-doing a few things… For example, for my thesis, I had used several pieces of research from essays I previously wrote. I had them all neatly saved in one folder – easy access… Now I have to go through a million e-mail messages to fish out each essay again – WASTE OF TIIIIMMMME maaaaan… Ya know what I mean?…

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