I spent the night on Long Island last night, in the suburban city of Hempstead. I had originally planned on making this entry about how driving on Long Island wasn't nearly as bad as everyone makes it out to be, or that due to a change of plans I didn't have to deliver in Brooklyn and while a little relieved I was somewhat bummed, too.
No, instead I have some rather sad news to relay.
I got into Hempstead last night around 7:30pm. I parked on the street across from the customer I was to deliver-to in the morning, right beside a Pizza Hut/Taco Bell dual concept. It was a side-street of a busy thoroughfare, backed up to a quiet residential area behind me. I spoke on the phone with my pal Robin for about 30 minutes then hauled out the laptop and the camera to goof around a bit. I had had the camera out earlier in the evening when I was in Jersey City, where I took a few boring photos while walking around the New Jersey City University area.
Tonight though, I had an idea. Since I had gotten the overhead light fixed in the truck when it was in the shop the previous week, I thought I'd make use of something else I had recently scored. See, my dad was a bit of an amateur shutterbug himself at one point and had several tripods lying around the house. I have one of them on indefinite loan from him, but I hadn't had any occasion to use it yet.
So I set up the tripod and began playing with the camera. I made two really goofy movies of myself which no one shall probably ever see but me. I also had an idea for an animated LJ icon involving T-shirts.
I have a lot of T-shirts. I have a fair collection and I'm sentimental about them. I have an entire stack of them in storage that are "retired" either because I've worn them out or they just don't appeal to me any longer. But I never throw them away. Someday when I have the energy I want to photograph ALL of them. Maybe make it a weekly series... T-shirt of the week! And tell the story behind it. But I don't have al my T-shirts with me in the truck obviously, but I thought, it'd be fun to make an animated GIF of me in various T-shirts. So, I pulled-out a bunch of T-shirts and with the camera on the tripod before me I began taking pictures of them. I made the icon, but it's still 5k too big even with all the crappy reduction in color and dithering. I guess I'm going to have to take a picture or two out of it if I'm going to use it or just scrap the idea.
M hi-jinks and hilarity finished for the evening I put things away in my usual fashion, a combination of placing things back in their storage places and tossing things from the bunk onto the front seats so I can lay down. This is Part One of a habit I need to change. But more on that in a bit.
This morning I was wakened by the familiar tapping of the customer on the door of the truck. I clambered out of the bunk to the cab and saw a young guy standing on the sidewalk. I immediately looked for my knit cap. It's not really cold or anything, but I'm in such bad need of a haircut it's simpler to just throw that on my head. I didn't see it laying on the front seats or on the dash. My laptop, a pack of cigarettes, and my fancy lighter were sitting on the passenger seat where I had left them. I don't remember quite where I left my bookbag when I went to bed, but it was sitting on the driver seat in a manner that just didn't look right. I didn't think much about it though and while trying to tame my locks somewhat with my hand I used the other to let the window down to speak with my customer. We nailed down the specifics of where he wanted me to put the truck so we could unload the cabinets. I returned to the warehouse across the street and I began looking for my jacket. As I said it's not really cold but it is a little chilly in the mornings, still. I looked around for my denim work jacket. It wasn't up front. Nor was it in the back in plain sight.
Stranger still, I know I had left the Frankenstein leather jacket draped across the passenger seat. I had specifically worn it last night while walking around Jersey City. It wasn't there, either. Perplexed, I jumped in the driver seat and pulled the truck across the boulevard to the designated spot. I again began looking for the jackets. Neither of them were anywhere to be found! I got out of the truck, as there was work to be done. While unloading the cabinets I pondered the possiblity of a jacket fairy. Maybe it was indigenous to Long Island and I just wasn't aware of some nightly incantation to ward them off. Or maybe I needed to leave them milk and cookies so they wouldn't take my jackets.
Of course, this is silly. Fairies are entirely too small to cart off human-sized jackets. And besides, it's not like they can wear them or anything. Yet, what human would take two jackets and a hat from the truck and leave the laptop, which was sitting on the same seat they pulled the jacket from? Much less, a wallet on the dash with an undisclosed amount of cash... ok, it was $160. I don't ordinarily carry that kind of cash around with me, but my original intent had been to go into NYC over the weekend, so I had with-drawn it with that in mind. This is what kept bothering me. Someone had to have approached a running truck, with its marker lights on. This is typically a pretty good indicator that someone is at least nearby, and at this hour probably inside. Someone had the gall to do all of this, and only take two jackets and a hat?
After I finished unloading my freight, I walked down to a local deli and had a pastrami and egg on rye for breakfast. The lady overcooked the pastrami on the grill. Ugggh. Still, this is one of the joys of visiting the east coast - you can order pastrami just about everywhere. I sat in the truck eating my sandwich, continuing to contemplate this pheonomenon. I was a little saddened over the loss of the hat. I loved that hat. I've had it for nearly ten years and chances are you've seen it in a zillion pictures of myself wearing it. Hell, I'm wearing it in my little icon thingie up there. The jackets, though, were no big deal. The denim was just this ratty old thing I wear when working and the Frankenstein threads were my "starter" leather jacket to decide if I wanted to get the real-deal.
I guessed it was just a cool night and someone was cold. Maybe whoever took the outerwear needed it more than I did. I mean, they did leave me my laptop and wallet. I'd be lost without a computer. And the wallet... sheesh, forget the money, that can be replaced. In it is my CDL and medical card, something required to be with me at all times when operating a vehicle, commercial or otherwise. Had I lost that I would've been up shit creek. Another thing about this whole ordeal bugged me, too. Why didn't I hear the door open? Fairies! No, let's be honest. There used to be a time when even the slightest disturbance in the truck would've stirred me awake. I think I've become immune to the sound of the truck door opening while I am sleeping as this is a rather common occurence since I began training. This is why I was never very vigilant about locking the cab doors at night when I went to sleep. It was inconceivable that anyone could enter the truck without my knowing it. This is Part Two of a habit I need to change.
Then, as I continued gnawing on my dried-up, poorly cooked pastrami something occured to me. What else is missing? I mean, I haven't really looked yet have I? It's not like I have many possessions, in the truck or otherwise. I've always been a bit spartan with regard to possessions, but those few things mean a great deal to me. The laptop is accounted for. Wallet and fancy lighter. Check. Cell phone was still in the floor on the charger. Camer... a. Where's the camera? I jumped up and tore threw the cab. I hadn't "put it away" as I never really put anything away. If it's not in plain sight or mixed up in the bed covers... it's not there.
And it's not there. The entire camera bag! Vanished. Gone. Lost. For the first time I lost my cool. I shouted a solitary "Fuck!"... then sat back down. I wadded what was left of the sandwich into the deli paper and threw it away. Between the circumstances of my morning and nasty pastrami I'd pretty much lost my appetite. I don't know if I ever disclosed what I gave for that little sucker. A small fucking mint. Gone. Gone also, the 512MB xD chip I had just bought and received last week. *Fumes*
This isn't the first time I've been the victim of a personal crime. When I lived downtown my car was broken into one night and a bookbag taken from the backseat. There was nothing of any value in it and whoever had done it scattered everything along the neighborhood a block away, presumably while they rifled through it while walking. I eventually recovered just about everything from it, with the excpetion of the bag and a pair of gloves. This is the first time someone has made-off with anything of value. But I guess I still feel essentially the same about it as I did when it happened before. While it's sad we have to secure our possessions from others, I know full well this to be the case and did not take the proper care to do so. The old saying that a lock keeps a man honest? Had the door not opened when the handle was pulled it would've been over with that second. While I'm a bit baffled by the size of the cajones this dude must've been swingin' to enter the truck in the first place, most would-be, low-level thieves avoid confrontation. If the doors had been locked, it's not likely he would've gone through the trouble of breaking and entering. He'd have moved on down the street.
Resigned to my own hand in this, I gathered my wits and headed for Amityville, my next stop. It was a gorgeous morning on Long Island and the traffic was flowing well. I really don't see what the big deal is about driving on Long Island in a truck. As long as you have decent directions and watch your signs. I had no trouble. As I drove I began to think about my need to replace the camera. As I said, I don't have many things, but what I do have I value greatly and are intrinsically tied to my interests and lifestyle. Living without it is unthinkable. I would need a new camera, obviously, and a new camera bag. New memory card. What else? Well all the rechargeable batteries and charger I used for the camera were in the bag... and what else? Umm...
Oh.. oh no. No, no, no, no ,no! NOOOO! Actually, it was more like "Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! Fuuuuuuck! FUCK!! FUUUCCCCCK FUCK!" There was something else in the camera bag. I can replace jackets and cameras, but it occured to me that there was something in that bag that no amount of money is going to replace.
Now I REALLY felt sick. I mean, it's one thing to take a dude's clothing and camera. To violate the sanctity of his truck. But someone ran off with my goddamn Slint tapes!!!!! And while I'm trying to be very zen-like about this, like, maybe whoever found it will become a life-long Slint fan after watching the tapes. But I know the reality, by now they're just sitting in some garbage can somewhere, or tossed from a car window... the cassetes smashed and tape streaming in the wind along the side of some Long Island highway. It's almost unbearable to think that something so important to me will be completely lost like that. I sat motionless for an hour and half, turning myself into a human tripod to record the last concert ever by my favorite band of all time. And it's gone. Gooooone, gone.
So now I'm sitting here just outside Hartford, CT. I'm getting ready to order myself a new camera. The good news on that is I'm going to end up paying about $130 less for it this time around than I did before. I've learned some hard lessons today. Admittedly, I've always led a bit of a charmed life. I think the general goodness of my life is a direct result of the person I am. I'm a nice guy, never wishing any ill for anyone and a giving person when I'm capable: quick to pick up a dinner tab or lend an ear/shoulder when necessary. I think I have a fairly nice stockpile of karma that keeps my life moving on a fairly even keel and which blesses me with good health, gainful employment, and an awesome circle of family and friends. Most things that have happened to me of the negative persuasion I've been able to chalk up to a karmic debt. For instance when I broke my leg last year... I know exactly what karmic debt I was paying-off with that. Something that occured earlier in the year. Something which is not within the scope of this journal to talk about.
But on this one I'm stumped. Maybe it was a karmic accident that will be righted with a future windfall. Although at the moment, I can't imagine anything that would make me think "Yeah, this is much better than having those Slint tapes." But who knows? I guess we'll see.
But back to those lessons. When I first began trucking, I didn't have anything of value that was "portable". By that I mean, I didn't have anything I could just toss around the cab like a laptop or an expensive camera. I used to carry a full PC that was strapped down in the back. It was almost inconceivable that someone would saunter away with that short of stealing the entire truck. The other cameras I had were relatively cheap and dispensible. Now I keep these two items and have been careless. Virtually every night since getting the laptop I have gone to bed and left it sitting on the front seat with the doors unlocked. Sure I lock it when I leave the truck, but not when I went to bed. The camera being up front was an aberration, though. I don't know what possessed me to toss it up there when I went to bed. The point of all of this is that I need to begin exercising a bit more care with these things. One of the hallmarks of being an INTP is that typically, we put things "where ever" and are only aware of its presence if it gets in the way of what we are currently trying to do. Then it gets moved to another "where ever". We don't have a place for things, we allow the things to go where ever they land and remember (usually) were we left it. This is where the generally cluttered nature of our lives comes-from. So this will be a chore for me, but something I will have to accomplish. At night, I will make sure that things are stored-away in the bunk before going to bed and make sure that, with the exception of maybe truckstops, the doors are locked when I go to sleep as well. I had that camera... what, 4 months? I certainly can't afford to be buying 3 of them a year.
But more importantly I can't afford to lose thing which are dear to me... things which I can't replace. I don't make it a habit of carrying things in the truck like that, but because of the busy-ness of my life the past few weeks, I didn't take the steps to make sure they were off the truck and some place safe until I could get copies and what-not made. The ironic thing is, I just had an IM conversation with lossfound on SUNDAY about taking the chance of mailing them to him so that he could convert them to DVD for me. I'm wishing now that I had dropped them in the mailbox Monday morning. Live and learn.
If anyone wants to cheer me up, they can buy me one of these.