Dear 30 year old thug who jacked my suitcase on the train last night,
I woke up still feeling very sad and sick about the loss of my things. Sad, because those things had tremendous personal value to me. Sick, I guess because that's what it feels like to be a victim of crime, sort of violated, and because other people saw him steal the bag and didn't stop him.
Kiyash drove me to the train stop where yougot off and we found some of my things stuff in a trash can and other things scattered on the sidewalk like trash. Not all of my things, not even most of my things, although I was relieved to get back a few of my things. But you took a lot of things that mattered.
You stole the stack of business cards I collected at Etech this week, many from people I met playing Werewolf and would really like to know and talk to again. Maybe the people I met at Etech will read this and email me instead (jane at the name of this blog dot com) so they don't think I am blowing them off.
The suitcase was full of clothing I picked for a week's trip that I was really excited about. Favorite things. Favorite shoes, favorite jewelry, favorite dresses, favorite makeup. My favorite things.... I guess it's not such a hardship to lose favorite things. As Kiyash said, "you're safe, that's the most important thing. "It totally is the most important thing. I guess I am feeling mostly sorry for myself in that third-person way, the way you would feel sad for a close friend. I can see myself third-person style picking out all my favorite things to pack, not knowing that I would be using them all for the last time. Like feeling sad for a character in a short story. "Self-vicarious-empathy", perhaps.
I have no idea what you are going to do with my my black patent leather heels, favorite black shift dress, my MAC cosmetics, a stack of World Without Oil postcards, Institute for the Future business cards, and a bag of Etech swag.
I guess I will keep my out eye in Richmond for a cross-dressing thug tech geek promoting alternate reality games.
I do wonder who you are and what your life is like that you have to resort to stealing bags off trains. I realize I am very lucky that I am not living that life. You hurt me by stealing my things. But I couldn't possible take it personally, really. Yes, it's a pain that I have to spend my day going around replacing everyday things like cell phone chargers and contact lenses. But it's fine, because I also have a dog and a husband and work I love and enough money that I dont' have to steal things.
I gave a talk at Etech this week about the science of happiness, and the different classes of happiness, and how alternate reality games have been helping people experience the world differently by learning those classes. The very strange thing about having my favorite things stolen last night is that I feel ARGs have taught me to see what happened in a different way. Not as a personal interaction between me and the thief, but rather as an exchange in a bigger system involving massively multiple people who COULD have been affected. I appreciate that the man who stole my bag was going to steal someone's bag, and perhaps the other people's bags in the system (the train) were more important to them and their week than mine was. I was returning from a trip; it would be much worse to have a bag stolen at the start of a trip, in a strange city, with no belongings whatsoever. And maybe other people's bags had more important or irreplaceable stuff than mine. Maybe I'm in a better position than the other people with bags are to deal with this, to replace lost items (I'm not completely broke) or to get emotional support after being robbed (I have a great husband who was waiting to meet me at my station.)
So by letting my bag serve as the Stolen Bag, I was saving someone else the grief of losing things. So at least a little part of me is okay about it. I appreciate the opportunity to be the one to take the hit here. I am framing this experience as an opportunity to prevent other people from having suffered, and accepting that maybe I was the best person on that train to have their luggage stolen. This is totally a way of thinking that relates to MMOs for me.
P.S. Also missing: the small diamond on my antique art nouveau engagement ring. I still have the setting, which dates to 1896. It looks very strange with the diamond popped out, a big empty setting. I am glad I will have the chance to refill it someday. I am sad about that, but Kiyash said not to be too sad. And I agree. Losing material things, even sentimental ones, just isn't that big a deal in the big picture.