My Laptop Was Stolen After I Locked My Keys In My Car: What to Do When Everything Goes Wrong

Hint: It's not time for boo-hoos, it's time to boot and rally.
Publish date:
October 23, 2013

Last Saturday night, I did something that I never, ever do: I went out.

And I’m not talking a trip to Target -- I’m talking out in a group of people where I would have to don presentable, clingy, glittery garb, put on heels, slick on some mascara, and where I would have to not only make, but receive, conversation.

I was invited to a show that my current crush was guaranteed to attend. I didn’t have a ticket, but the idea that I might have a run-in with said guy coupled with the possibility that I could theoretically "crash" a show was enough for me to cancel my plans to see Don Jon (again) and break out my standard issue sparkly shirt/blazer/skinny jeans/heels "night on the town" ensemble.

I got in, had fun, and a predictable giggly run-in with not one but TWO guys -- one of whom was promising enough that we exchanged information.

“Life is for the living!" I thought as I drove home that night. "Men want to talk to me! This is what your twenties are about!”

I marveled to myself as I gathered my things from the car to head inside my apartment: a bag of knickknacks from a thrift store trip, my laptop and purse -- or so I thought. It wasn't until I slammed and locked the car door that I saw it. There she lay -- my vintage handbag -- sitting in the drivers’ seat. With my keys inside.

What. The. Fudge.

I dropped everything to the ground, tried all four doors (locked), tried the driver-side door again and again and again (locked -- don’t you get it?), even used my heel to try and crack the window (unsuccessful). I opened the parking gate and ran to the front door of my building, shouting a breathless "Fine" when two random men asked "Is everything alright?"

Obviously I wasn't fine, especially after I flung my body weight against the deadbolt-locked door of my apartment to bust the door open to get to my spare key. Nothing. So I ran to try my locked car again.

When I got downstairs something was different.

My laptop was gone. My bag of thrifted crap still lay on the ground, but my 2012 MacBook Pro, my favorite child, the love of my life, had "vanished."

Suddenly, like a punch in the stomach, all the pain hit me at once: In a cloud of worry and confusion, I had thrown my laptop bag and my thrift store bag to the ground, left the parking gate open for anyone to walk in, passed two men who clearly knew I was distressed, and left the scene unattended. I might as well have run up and down the street shouting "Free laptop! Free laptop!"

I couldn’t believe this was happening to me. I pay taxes, smile at old people, and bake cookies as a way to say "Thank you." Why was the universe picking on me? Because, when it comes to thinking on my feet in a real life situation, i.e. fight or flight, I think I’m fighting when in reality my brain has flown the coop.

But it was in this moment that I began to come to my senses, and in between sobs and sniffles I surveyed the situation: I was cold, upset, and so, so bummed at my idiocy, but I still had my phone and an iPad, I wasn’t seriously hurt, and I did have fun earlier that night. I had gotten myself in to much more complicated messes in the past, and though I knew I was going to have to whip out my credit card tomorrow to solve this conundrum and that I’d probably never see my baby again, I still had to push through. As I’ve witnessed time and time again in adulthood, you eventually learn and push through your mistakes, no matter how hard they hurt. Plus, I had a sandwich waiting for me upstairs, and I always think better while munching on sliced turkey.

It was not time for boo-hoos, it was time to boot and rally.

I called the police and filed a report on my computer; the locksmith came and let me in to my apartment, and I got the spare key to my car.

Slowly, the literal aftermath started trilling in my head: $50 for the lockout; at least $300 to buy a replacement PC brand "netbook"; priceless costs to my empty head. Looking back, I could have called my mom and sobbed, but then I’d have to explain just why I was sobbing. The fact that she didn’t have to bail me out of this situation made me determined to solve it on my own. Obvious reprimands were for the birds.

It wasn't until the police called for my laptop's serial number, just in case it landed it a pawn shop, that it hit me. I remembered that my trusty 2007 MacBook was still intact, perched on the top shelf of my closet, where I had been holding it to sell on ebay for over a year. I was overwhelmed with happiness as I pulled it out, plugged it in, and re-introduced myself to an old friend. Yes, it moved a little slower, the screen had a line running in it and the keyboard protector was crusted over with food particles, but it worked.

I'd prepared for a moment that I didn’t even know was coming. Turns out I did have a little fight in me after all.

The night before, my misadventures, though not reckless in theory (only in practice), made me wonder if it was ever worth it to go out again. Sure, I had voluntarily relegated myself to no social life, but the moratorium had prevented me from getting "hurt." But was changing my pattern really worth all the repercussions that ensued? Was having my computer stolen and temporarily losing my mind really worth it?

The next day I went to a repair store and bought a new battery. I was back in business. And one of the guys I met actually called. We even set a date to meet up for coffee.

“Life is for the living!" I can cheer again. "Men want to talk to me! This is what your twenties are about!”