My studio got robbed on Friday night during the Happy Hour yoga class. The thieves took about $1300.00 in cash and checks.
I feel nauseous as I write this. And stupid for leaving that little green purse (not a bank bag) with my month’s income on my desk, but I was teaching class in the next room!
After class ended, I opened the studio door and ran smack into 2 teen-aged boys in the hallway.
I asked them if they needed help; were they looking for somebody in the yoga class? They said they were looking for the yoga class. I said it was over. Did they want some information about future classes?
All the time I was talking to them, I knew what they were doing because the hallway reeked of cigarette smoke: They had been using the hall bathroom to smoke. It’s not the first time I have smelled cigarette and marijuana smoke in the hall. I know kids use that bathroom sometimes. Lately, not so much though.
I started to talk to them, I asked them their names, introduced myself, shook their hands, gave them a January schedule and then they left out the back door. I stayed another hour, talking with Brenna and Fred.
After Brenna and Fred left, I closed up the studio, went to my desk, picked up my money purse and it felt light. It was not only “light” it was “empty.” Those asshole kids stole my money.
As I said, it was about $1300 in cash and checks. I was instantly nauseous. I felt afraid; I felt like crying, but no tears fell. I repeated the mantra: No! No! No! (fyi: It did not help.)
I headed for the police station. On my way out, though, I noticed Bob, my landlord, working late in his office. I tapped on his window, he let me in, and together we called the cops, and Bob spent a lot of time on the phone talking to his kids and we got some really good info on these kids. I remembered the name of one of them, and I could certainly ID them because I had talked to them for quite a while, even shook their hands for cryin’ out loud, while my money was in their pockets!! (oh the irony).
We found them on the building security camera, but they had hoods up and were looking down so the cop couldn’t see their faces. (Which is a real shame.) One of Bob’s kids saw the kid in Dollar General about a half hour after they would have left the building with a big wad of bills, and asked him about it.
The cop took all the info, but told me that if I get my money back at all, it will be a long process. If they catch them, they will be charged with a felony; they’ll have to be prosecuted, etc. etc. It sounded to me like I have a snowball’s chance.
So although I remain optimistic, because I just have to be, because that’s the way I roll, I also have to be prepared for the fact that it’s totally gone.
But, things could be a lot worse. I am grateful, actually. For one thing, this time I know who took the money. I don’t know their last names, but I could ID both of them, no problem. Unlike the last time, when I was totally baffled and kept walking around asking: Who would rob me???? This time, I know who robbed me. Those 2 kids did.
They just got lucky. And it was just a piece of really bad luck on my part that those kids knew about that bathroom to smoke in, and then got curious and started walking around, found the lounge, snooped in the right place, found the money, pocketed it, and as they were leaving I opened the door and they had to go through that whole bullshit drama of, “Oh, we were looking for the yoga class.”
So now it is a few days out from the crashing mess of the robbery, and I was really hoping that the cops would have found those kids Friday night, and that they would have been busted and my money returned, but no.
I have been thinking a lot about it, as you might imagine. I feel shame for letting this happen again. But I really wasn’t irresponsible this time. I did not leave obvious money like a bank bag, unattended. I was in the next room, too. Within earshot of anyone coming up the stairs or through the door. But they came in through the back door, and they were sneaking a smoke in the bathroom….
So, here are my “Learnings” and the ways I plan to make sure there isn’t a three-peat of this episode:
One thing I have learned is not to carry so much money around with me in the first place. From now on, no more than $20 in small bills to make change. The fact that I had so much money in that little green purse to begin with makes me feel stupid and ashamed.
The back door is now locked. Edith took an allen wrench in there this morning and adjusted it so you will need a key to get in: no more easy entry for punks.
I have also ordered a keypad lock for the lounge. Until it’s installed the lounge will be locked when I am not there. Once the keypad is installed, I will give the code to all my students and they will be able to use the lounge whenever they want. I will also lock the lounge during class from now on to safeguard the valuables of my students.
Here are my Gratitudes:
I am grateful that I am not hurt. When I told Ira I was robbed, he visibly paled. His first thought was that there was a “hold-up” of some sort. When I explained the circumstances, he was relieved, naturally, but then went into a whole thing about that tragedy in AZ with that messed up kid, and how you never know about the mental stability of kids who would go into a place and take money like that. It’s a whole different breed of human being who do things like that, he said. They could be whacked out on drugs, or just mentally screwed up due to personal problems and hang-ups, so he was just happy that I wasn’t hurt. I thought that was nice and kind of him. So yeah. No violence. Gratitude for that.
But far and away what I am the most grateful for is that none of the personal belongings of the people in my class were taken or touched. No wallets, credit cards or cash were stolen. For me, that would have been the ultimate nightmare, and the guilt I would have born would have totally crushed me. Steal from me, fine, okay, but leave my people alone! I’ll take the hit, the loss of money. It’s not really a problem. It was a substantial hit, but I can pay my rent, everything is fine. But if my students had had their wallets stolen…. No. That I could NOT have endured.
The other thing I am grateful for is that there was no physical damage to the room. Kids can be really crazy and destructive just for kicks, but all these little douche bags were interested in was the money. They were sneaky, too. I did not hear anyone moving around in that room, and that room is virtually the same room as the studio. The wall that separates the two rooms is just one piece of drywall, and I can hear a person practically breathing in the lounge, from the other side of that wall. (Anyone who has practiced in my studio can attest to the audio porosity of that wall.)
Which brings me to the sheer audacity of them when they knew class was going on in the next room! How easily they might have been caught! And they were caught, just not red-handed. Dammit.
And that, of course, is the current problem. We saw them leave the building on the security camera, but they had hoods up and were looking down and the cop didn’t see their FACES. This is really a pity because if the cop could have had a good look at a FACE, it would have made it tons easier to ID them and pick them up.
Now the only thing I have to hope for is that the cops have the skills, and the incentive, and interest to follow up on this. And this is where hope sags. I think they got away with it this time. They spent the money, ditched the checks, and I think the game is over. How can the cops pick them up when only I know what they look like? How can they prove they took my money? It’s probably not gonna happen.
On Friday night, after a big glass of wine, I sat for a long time thinking the following thoughts:
I have such a good life.
I am healthy and happy and all the people I love and care about most in the world are pretty healthy and happy too.
It is really easy to be altruistic and optimistic and compassionate and loving and patient and forgiving when your life is running smoothly. But when something happens to ruin your “rainbows and unicorns” life, THAT’S the time when you REALLY get tested.
It almost doesn’t count if you can be patient and forgiving and compassionate in the easy times; it only really counts when you are faced with a shit storm.
So on Friday night, I said to my self, in effect, “Okay, Kath. Here it is. Here is your current test. And it’s not even that big of a one. It’s not a health crisis, or a problem with your child, or a death. It a theft of $1300.00. Now, what are you going to do? How are you going to behave? Are you going to get angry? Are you going to feel self-pity? Are you going to feel shame? Are you going to be afraid? Are you going to close your open heart? Are you going to become suspicious and cynical and vindictive? Are you going to worry, and wring your hands, and tell the story over and over to try to ellicit pity and commiseration from others? Are you going to pretend it doesn’t hurt, or make you feel fearful or anxious?
OR: Are you going to sit down and invite all your feelings of shame and fear and anger and anxiety to join you, to sit right next to you on the couch, *she pats the couch here* and allow them all to have their say, to take their best shot at you. You will not argue with them, you will not defend yourself, you will just hear them out. You will listen to them all; you will endure their attempts to defeat you. You will take it. You will not flinch if they bare their fangs and growl, you will not cower if they try to kill you, you will stay put. You will hold your ground. You will not run. You will not distract yourself with food or alcohol or exercise or reading or talking. You will simply sit tight and watch the whole thing play out and you will allow yourself to feel the pain all the way through. You will do this because you know, from all your reading, and your yoga practice, and your writing, that the only way out is through. You will sit and take it, and hear it, until it is all over.
And it will be over. Because fear and anxiety and shame and regret and sorrow are like scary thunderstorms. When you are in the middle of them, the downpour is so hard you can’t see a thing, you think that you are going to die, or drown, or get hit by lightning, but you know if you just stay and weather it out, eventually these storms will run out of juice, and break up, and move off, and the sun will shine again.
So that’s what I’ve been doing this weekend. I’ve been sitting in my Space Chair, making room for it all to be, and watching the storm crash and blow and pour, then die down, and then start up all over again. Over and over.
Today I will draft a letter to all the people who gave me money this month, particularly those who wrote checks that will go unaccounted for in their monthly bank statements because they are probably lying in a trash can or a dumpster somewhere. I will apologize for not being a more careful steward of their hard-earned money, and promise that I will take better care of them in the future.
Then, I will take the next step forward. Hopefully with more humility, and grace, and assuredly, with renewed gratitude.