Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Zero Day

Some of you knew about the recent opportunity that I was offered, and gratefully accepted, at a design firm in Chicago. Some of you didn't, but now you know. Everything happened pretty quickly, and before I knew it, I had wrapped things up in San Francisco and I was ready to move on to my next big city adventure.

Today was supposed to be day 1 of my road trip East. Last night I packed everything I own{ed} into a van, except for my two bikes, laptop, camera and a few days worth of clothes. The plan was to wake up at 6am, load the bikes on the rear rack, grab a coffee and hit the road.

Instead I walked outside to an empty van with a broken window.

They took it all.

I was stunned. Emotionless. I really didn't know what to think.

I just kind of sat there on the sidewalk next to the pile of glass as people walked past on their way to work. Most of them glanced at the situation, calculated what had happened, then looked away as if I had a handicap they didn't want to be caught staring at.

My first instinct was to call the police. But once again, the boys in blue let me down for being nothing more than lazy ass government workers, who seem annoyed by the slightest inquisition for help. They wouldn't send someone out to make a police report, see if it was related to other similar break-ins (if there had been any), or even entertain the idea that a crime had taken place and someone needed help. Instead they told me that I should drive the van, with it's busted window and all, across town to the police station and file a report. Thanks.

Next came the car rental company and their attitude about a $300 window and my declining of their insurance. Sorry that I wasn't sympathetic to their loss.

The rest of the day was followed by the slow realization of specific items that were now gone forever. Like my portfolio and all instances of files from my last 5 years as a designer. My inspiration box of work that I had collected from different designers and countries over the years. My library of design books, a few of them signed by their authors...all of these things are worthless to whoever stole them, but priceless to me.

I have been trying to maintain composure and look at this as a liberation from my material things. I had always tried to keep my possessions to a minimum, but this just takes the cake (as well as the utensils I would have used to eat it with).

I somehow feel partially responsible and slightly guilty for not being more intelligent about the situation. I should have known that tinted windows wouldn't prevent a dedicated thief from taking what he wanted. But packing the night before was the most efficient way to get things done. I figure someone saw me loading the van and waited around until it was unattended.

I also began thinking about what drives people to steal, to covet, the desire to have all of these things, or the money one gets from selling those things—and how my career is a driving force of this social affliction.

Design is used to sell. Period. Whether its the newest Nikes, or someone's ideals. My job is to communicate their message. And since the dawn of advertising, the overwhelming majority of messages sent into the world, is to want what you don't have.

Someone else wanted what they didn't have, which happened to be what I had, and no longer have.

Thank you consumerism, thank you thieves.

Today is zero day. Tomorrow I will start again.

All that remained.


Rachel said...

Wow. This makes me think a lot about my relationship to material things, as I am sure it did for you.

Thanks for sharing; sorry it happened.

Richard Mondello said...

I honestly don't know who you are, but I'm terribly sorry for your loss. That shouldn't have to happen to anyone, ever. Please, take care.

Unknown said...

Damn near the same thing happened to me in Seattle, in 1973. I played in a band, left the equipment in the station wagon over night, and in the morning--it was gone!

End of my rock and roll career!


karpintero said...

i happened across an article mentioning your story.

i'm sorry for your loss, almost a year after, how is everything now?

i'll try to catch up to your current posts.

best of luck

GreenPinga said...

How do you feel about it now, looking back on it all?

A friend of mine sent me a link to this because I had just been writing about how it's strange when you get things stolen that have no monetary value but hugely sentimental.

My roommate & me had our apartment door smashed in half this last January in Oakland. They took what you'd expect (TV, CDs, DVDs), but they also stole my photo albums, yearbook, & CD-Rs with papers & letters on them. That's the part that still really sucks thinking about.

I'm sorry it happened to you...for those things you can't replace.

Anonymous said...

You have a really great attitude about all of this. If this happened to me, I'd do whatever it takes to find the bastards that did this and make them pay, both literally and figuratively.

Jon Brown said...

Sorry for your loss, but glad you're making it into an interesting social experiment and have a good attitude in spite of it.

I am awfully surprised that they emptied the van in place in the middle of the night rather than just steal the van. I'm equally surprised as well as dismayed that the police were so uninterested in what happened.

BTW, I think you should have opted for taking off and traveling the world, but that's just me and you can always do that next time... lol.

Anonymous said...

Great, that u still had your camera and laptop, and some clothes.
I do like to own as little as possible. Seriously, stuff is stupid, and will own you. but then again, some things are necessary.

Unknown said...

My friend sent me the link to your blog because he said it made him think of my own recent story. Ironic. I like your blog. Here's my story if you're interested