Otherwise known as the narrative of 15 Feb 2014. I don’t really know who’ll give a crap, but I just need to get this out of my system.
Having lived in South Africa all my life (thus far), the thing about crime has often come up. And, for the most part, I’ve been pretty damned fortunate to not have had to deal with it at all. Until last night, that is. Which is the worst time it could possibly have hit me at. I’ve been in a bit of a dark spell the last couple of weeks, due to a variety of factors, but things were finally starting to feel a bit better last night. I actually went as far as to comment to someone “I think I’m finally through it all!” around 10~11pm. But hey…apparently it wasn’t quite time yet.
Around 2am (which I guess is technically Sunday?), I left a friend’s house, going homewards via Andiccio 24 (which is a regular habit when I’ve been up all night). I’d been sick since last weekend, too, and was feeling pretty damn drained by this point. After getting my pizza and starting to drive home, somewhere along the route my scooter just failed on me. I don’t know why yet, haven’t exactly had the headspace to look. Sounds electrical-ish, but w/e. And to start the bad, my pizza had fallen onto the ground. This annoyed me, but was just a slight taste of what was to come. At this point, I phone the AA, who give me an estimate of 60 to 90 minutes as pickup time. Now I only live a couple of blocks from where I broke down (albeit uphill), so while I wait for their confirmatory call I start trying to push it as far as I can go. Which isn’t very far, because I’m exhausted as hell. As I got a little bit up the one hill, a white car with two occupants comes driving past, as best as I can tell seeming to be some kind of neighbourhood patrol. And as I mention my difficulties and issues there, the guy claims that he might be able to help me with getting the AA to hurry up. And, hell, I’m tired (had been awake since 05h40 on the Saturday), hungry, stuck in the middle of uselessville at 3am, and I decide to trust the guy. Why not? Not like I ever really do trust strangers. I can’t tell you why I did it.
But I phone the AA up, mention to the callcentre person that this other individual wants to speak to them, and hand my phone over to the guy in the car. After they speak for about 10~15 seconds, I hear the guy mention that he’s with SAPS (which I think is probably illegal to impersonate), and at this point they start driving off, go around the corner, and gone. Now I’ve got no comms. No ETA on getting home. No ability to confirm the pickup. I’m tired, I’m hungry, I’m stressed, and I snap. The last few weeks’ worth of bad just hit me like a ton of bricks dislodged from a cargo carrier, and I am /fucked/. I try to ring a few doorbells, don’t really get anywhere. Finally I see an actual Beagle Security (local patrol crowd) driving past, and after I literally begged the driver, I managed to get home. From where I then started trying to get Prey and such installed on my phone. Which doesn’t help, you need to do it in advance. So I try android remote wipe. Nope, that needs to be set up in advance too. And just a couple of days ago I’d turned off location reporting on my tablet, and forgotten to check if it was account wide. So I couldn’t trace the handset either.
I start pulling out whatever tricks I can try manage. I even try to get my FNB Connect voice thing back up. But I couldn’t find the details saved, and thus couldn’t get any calls done. I need to phone the police. I didn’t even have a plate number for the car. But fuckit, what do you do instead? I post on facebook, asking for help, which is something I do so rarely I don’t even know how to do it. It’s at this point that I ask around, see if anyone has some voip I could use. It’s at this point where some guys over at sonic.net helped me out, and I am extremely thankful for that. The teams who run that place I could solidly count as A+ people. Technically, and for reasons such as this. I manage to phone the police, I get as far as I can manage. I start changing account passwords, dissociating things from my phone, making it as useless as I could possibly hope (ie. no posts showing up when notifications come through, etc). It didn’t have much battery life left, either, so it would’ve died on the people soon afterwards anyway.
But at this point I’ve hit a low. Being without comms is a major hit, for multiple reasons, and being unable to contact (because of this) the one or two people who could’ve actually helped me through it…well, yeah. I hit a low I haven’t hit about since the time I realized I need to cut myself off from my family in totality. I’m not ashamed to say that I cried a bit. I was feeling so utterly helpless in the face of everything, and I just didn’t know what to do.
Positive things! A couple:
- thank you very much to the person who helped me with the ability to call (I’m finding out if I can name them here)
- thanks to Tristan for helping me get around in the morning, breakfast (to deal with the fact that I’m starved and getting a migraine), helping get to police, and sitting patiently through multiple stages of trying to get my handset blacklisted (the IMEI shown on the network HLR doesn’t match the IMEI on the box I have)
- there were a fair handful of people who responded to my FB post (each of you have been noted, and I will make sure to pay you back whenever I can one day)
- thank you to the people on Shadowfire who let me rage and rant and vent
- fortunately I had handset insurance from my provider, so this should not make much of a knock on my finances (which was a related fear)
Speculation: maybe…just maaaaybe…the guys in the car were legit. As I said, the battery would’ve died soon. But I don’t feel so. I ran down to the traffic light after they bolted, and I couldn’t see the car by the time I’d gotten there (about 40~50m down the road).
And now it’s Sunday evening. It took a day to get some stuff sorted (prepaid SIM, ability to phone, arranged transport to get to my Monday meeting), and I had the maximum indicated dose of Migril to try counteract my migraine. I still haven’t eaten properly, and don’t feel I can easily. re:hidrat it is, then, for getting myself feeling a slight bit better. My cat is sleeping next to me (she annexed a whole pillow on my couch), there’s good music playing, and I’m clutching my way back to feeling better. Slowly, bit by bit. But this one will hurt for a while.
edit: I know many of these things sound tiny. With perspective, they are. But they added up in just the right set of flavours. Here’s to getting some perspective again, though!
edit 2: did eventually get the scooter back home. The original call with AA had been closed, apparently the guys claimed that they’d done a pickup. I hope to open some kind of case and maybe get my hands on that recording. Or something. I don’t know. But did get home, and after a minor freakout for a while (of not being able to find the right keys to get the scooter movable (steering lock)), all roughly ended up “okay”