When Bad Things Happen…

So my high school buddies and I realized we could actually celebrate our dear friend’s birthday at Conspiracy on Visayas Ave in Quezon City. A few drinks, the usual bar chow, the unusual spur-of-the-moment rendezvous – no mean feat for them folks with kids, as many of you know.

Then a few hours into the night, I discovered that the rear window of my car was smashed, my laptop and bag were stolen, together with important SEC and tax documents that are utterly unimportant to its new owner. The sealed paper bag filled with National Book Day loot did not escape the thief’s attention. (One can only hope that he at least manages to browse The Intelligent Investor, and consider a more decent source of livelihood.)

I try not to be bothered by what I lost, because there is always a ton to be grateful for: I wasn’t hurt. My friends stood by me all the way from the bar to the police station. The car wasn’t stolen. And my copy of Neal Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon which already has flags up to page 270 was unscathed by bits and shards of broken glass that lay in its midst.

I also realized that having Google Drive now ranks just under running water as a basic need, and that backing up on the cloud is as vital as daily exercise. Files are intact. Technology is good for the heart.

It is rather timely that one of the last emails I read today was a Daily Stoic newsletter which reminded me that “someone wants to have your bad day.” Damn straight.

Even though I knew it won’t do much in helping me get some work stuff sorted out sooner rather than later, I still filed a police report. In fact, it was my first time at a police station – and the Masambong Police Station in QC did not disappoint. They were sympathetic to the 4 of us whose vehicles were ruthlessly trashed, and even provided a convoy to the station. Another lesson: don’t generalize. Many of us are not huge fans of law enforcement these days, but there are unsung heroes everywhere, doing their job well.

But I do wish to note that I expected more from the bar’s management, whose initial response when I raised the issue was “where you parked is not covered by our CCTV camera.” My car was parked 4 cars away from the main entrance. There were no guards at around 815PM, and none still when the crime was discovered. Surely for a bar that has been operating for many years, and for many many evenings, one would expect it to already have in place some form of security from 7PM to about 2AM. Maybe it has, and merely dropped the ball this time around. But shouldn’t the placement of basic and inexpensive security cameras be a prerequisite these days for a license to operate, especially in an area the owners and the barangay officials already know is notoriously susceptible to such untoward incidents? I was ready to leave believing it was all my fault for leaving my bags in the car, but Conspiracy’s nonchalance struck a nerve. And I used to gig there.

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” – Viktor Frankl

This Stoicism thing works.

Written by

Former presidential speechwriter, still a musician; writes about urban gridlocks. Will work full time for the planet. Harvard Kennedy School ‘14 🇵🇭

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