I had a thump-yourself-on-the-forehead moment last Friday night. We were out at a club with some friends, and when I got up to use the ladies' room I left my purse behind, not really thinking twice about it, figuring it would be watched after by the folks sitting in our small group. When I got back, the friends were gone, and so was the purse. I tried to stay calm as we scoured the club for our group. My logical brain attempted to drown out the panic by stating calmly and clearly that one of our peeps had grabbed it and taken it with them for safe keeping. My wallet, cell phone, car keys, house keys... all in good hands. Meanwhile my emotional brain kept drumming up worst case scenarios and shouting "Stupid! What were you thinking? You'd never do this while traveling!"
And that little voice, while a bit overwrought, is right. If I were in a foreign country or even another city, I'd never in a million years leave my valuables sitting unattended, ever. What's particularly ironic about this is that things are *not* particularly secure on the American homefront these days, especially if the hand-wringing daily news is to be believed. Regardless, there's something about being close to home that lulls me into a false sense of security. It got me thinking about other ways this happens:
* Crossing the street. Indie Travel Podcast just did a funny (and informative) episode about this. I tend to be one of those pedestrians who quickly looks both ways and then darts out into traffic, against the light or in the middle of the block or whatever suits my need to get from point A to point B. But in some countries this behavior may bring about bodily harm or a huge fine. According to ITP it can cost you 200 Euros in Austria! It's not something to be taken lightly.
* Giving out personal info. While traveling, I would never dream of giving out my hostel or hotel address to a complete stranger. Yet a few weeks ago I got a brisk slap of reality when our Craigslist rental ad got hijacked by some spammers in Nigeria. (Yes, really. How retro! How very 1996!) At first I couldn't figure out why someone would take the time to scrape my content and one picture of the outside of our house, list it at half the price, and change the email address. Then when people started showing up with further instructions about wiring money to a Lagos bank account, I finally got it. It's my own damn fault for including our address with the original post. I stupidly thought "What's the harm?" Well, there ya go, question answered. Fortunately I think I was able to get Craigslist to take down the spamalicious ad before any really stupid people got bilked out of their cash. At least I hope so.
Back to the purse-snatching incident, it did turn out that one of our friends took it along with her when she moved to a different part of the club. Why she didn't bother to wait till I got back from the bathroom to migrate, I'll probably never know. But all's well that ends well. And I think the lesson here is that it's time to kick off my comfy slippers and hit the road to slough off some of that false sense of security.
What are some ways you take things for granted in your comfort zone?
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