A routine lunch turns out to be a hard lesson

July 2nd, 2014

Last week I was ripped off at a downtown restaurant. I go there almost every day. This time I had a bag of stuff from Best Buy, and to make room I put it on the counter one table away.

There was some guys sitting on that table and they took it. They were caught on camera. First they moved the bag out of sight then walked away with it. When I stood up to get it, it was gone. Cute.

Lightening should strike them and their days should be filled with unpleasantness.

Being ripped off like that, especially here, downtown, is a violation of your space, your property and your worldview. This was in plain sight, only a few feet away – open malevolence within reaching distance.

The sense of violation pervades and continues. It’s not a question of how much – that can be replaced. It’s the after effect, where you look at every stranger and wonder if he’s the kind of person who does that.

Will this happen again to me, to others? Is this a new trend, part of our economic malaise or just a bad seed? I wonder what happens in the lives of people like this, that they would steal at random, opportunistically.

I had thought that life in the downtown business community was relatively civilized and good-natured. I had thought people were basically friendly in the notion of “we’re all this together.” How wrong was I?

Clearly, there are those among us who are not in this together. They would steal from you under your nose, like pickpockets or sneak thieves. They are anti-social, and should be re-schooled at the least.

It does violence to aloha and Hawaii. It’s destructive not only in the act, but in the effect. As the victim, I must now question humanity. And those guys, like Dorian Gray, must carry their guilt in the attic.

If you did this, well shame on you. If you saw them do it and didn’t call them out, I'm sorry for you too. This is no way to preserve the good life in Hawaii.

My advice to myself is not to be scarred by what happened, to move on, try to forget, and continue to believe in the underlying perfectibility of humankind.

The involuntary loss of the fruit of one’s labor is always an outrage. It's not just what was in the bag; it’s everything. It’s the sense that the system isn’t working and the things you own are up for grabs.

I can only hope these guys become their own victims. For the rest of us, watch your stuff.

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