TimYang.com ::: The Geek Blog

Friday December 31

What to say to a person after he has been burgled

I woke up at 8am and found my chalet door open. My laptop which I brought to document my work processes with was gone and so was my mobile phone. No footprints outside.

That sucks. I was feeling really rotten because I don't normally lock my door. Perhaps I should have. Graeme said he had heard someone outside his chalet at around dawn. That would make sense -- the burglar was probably trying everyone's door to find out who had left theirs unlocked. Dawn would be right because hardly anyone would be awake and there would just be enough light to find things in the room.

My laptop isn't saleable to any burglar anyway. First, it is distinctive. It's a white iBook whereas all other laptops are grey or black. Easy to remember, spot and inquire about. It's also quite beat-up. I needed to replace it within the next six months anyway. I lost all my backup files and research data. The software is replaceable because it was all *shocker* pirated anyway.

But the subject of this post isn't the event but in the aftermath.

I told Graeme and he said "I always keep my door locked anyway." *BEEEEEP* Focusing on yourself and referring to what I probably should have done is not helping.

David who stays at Payung Guesthouse tried to give advice on which police officer I should speak to and where the more responsive ones are located. That's helpful.

But Jun, who runs Payung Guesthouse, started telling me about all the robberies that he's ever heard of involving travellers. I was already feeling really guilty about getting robbed. And ironically Jun made me feel a lot better about it. It showed me that I was not alone. And it made me feel less stupid. That's what I needed.

You might think that such news would increase my sense of insecurity. Not at all. I've just been robbed. I'm not likely to get robbed again soon so I am not actually feeling insecure at all. What a victim wants is to feel less alone and less guilt.

There is of course the response that shows sympathy. Sometimes that's all that's needed. Sympathy is the expression of a sense of joining with the sufferer which alleviates the feeling of being alone. But sympathy is rarely done well. If it isn't heartfelt, it comes off as either exagerated or too polite.


If it helps, I’ve lost a watch and a wallet containing RM30. It’s not a lot of money now but I was 15 then, and I felt rich with that much money. My buddy lost his notebook last month when he left it in his car (Waja) while having lunch. And in the past 3 months, 3 friends of mine lost their handphones.

In a few months, you’ll be glad to have lost it. You’ll be an extremely careful person.

Posted by: Kris Khaira on Dec 31, 04 | 8:40 pm
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