I learned this lesson the VERY HARD way.
It’s been 20-plus years, but I can remember my Santa Monica adventure like it was yesterday… maybe even today.
My son-in-law, Keith, was at the wheel as we traveled from their Orange County, CA home to Santa Barbara. Daughter, Tracy, was studying their 1996 Rand McNally Atlas (remember those?) for the best route. Granddaughter, Halle, six months old, was doing her baby thing. And, my outstanding spouse, Karen, was dozing (not a shock to anyone who has traveled in a car with her). We’d been on the road maybe an hour-and-a-half, and it was time for lunch.
Welcome to Santa Monica! It’s a popular place. Lots of folks milling around stores, the beach and the always busy Santa Monica Pier. After a while, we found a parking spot in a garage by the Third Street Promenade pedestrian mall. Because we were heading for a long weekend away - with a baby - the van was loaded with clothes, a portable crib, diapers and lots of other items. As we got out, I quickly tucked my glasses into my camera bag with my two Canon cameras for safe keeping. It was so sunny in Santa Monica my sunglasses would be all I would need for our adventure. I then asked if it would be safe to leave my camera bag in the van. If memory serves me, Tracy said it would be fine. Keith immediately responded, Be quiet! You never know who might be hiding in these parking garages. His voice was quiet, but his tone was harsh.
What in the world was he talking about? The rest of us thought Keith was crazy. So, off we went to lunch. Not a care in the world.
Well, guess what? We got back from lunch and the van had been completely ransacked - clothes, luggage and baby things all over the inside. It resembled a trashed fraternity house on Sunday morning. I mean it was a big-time mess. Has anybody seen my camera bag? Nobody stepped up to say they had. Well, it pains me to say this, but it looked like Keith was right. And Tracy was wrong. The only thing missing from the van was my camera bag. With my two cameras. And my prescription glasses.
Clearly, we have to report this theft to the Santa Monica police if there’s any chance insurance will cover it.
Fortunately, the local police station, courthouse and municipal building were just one short block away. I set off to tell my story. As I came upon my destination, I saw lots of TV cameras along the path to the main door. These included clearly marked network TV crews and their equipment.
You see, the O.J Simpson trial was in full swing. And here I came. Maybe all these reporters thought I was an important new witness. Shall we say I didn’t go unnoticed. I was now part of history, maybe an important part. I carried myself with pride. I wasn’t going to let myself be part of the Simpson circus. I had my own story to tell and I was going to stick to it.
I never saw my cameras again. I also spent much of the next day on the phone with my eye doctor in Cleveland and at LensCrafters in Santa Barbara replacing my glasses. So much for a relaxing long weekend away.
I learned a big lesson that day. Never, ever mention what is in your car in a parking garage or anywhere else someone may be lurking - unless your goal is to have it stolen. And, that is never anyone’s goal.
In a lot of ways, it was a memorable day in Santa Monica, but I prefer to think of it as a forgettable time. Who wants to admit they should have listened to their son-in-law?
DY: In Just a Few Words is a blog that comes out when something needs to be said or every Tuesday - whichever comes first. Davis Young is a communications professional who adds 50+ years of experience and perspective to issues of the day. His emphasis in DY: In Just a Few Words will be humor (a touch of sarcasm here, a pinch of facetiousness there...). Once in a while, he will touch on something a bit more serious - but hopefully not too deep or depressing.
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