Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Laptops, locks, and loss

The media tent

On Day One of the climate conference I was kind of figuring everything out -- where to work, how to upload sound, etc. So on Day Two I came in at full speed, hoping to file two stories. Chad was arriving later that day, so I had our cubicle to myself. I dumped my stuff, ran off to a press conference, came back forty minutes later, and plugged my tape deck into --

My computer was gone.

It must be here, I thought. But in the same instant I was certain: it's been stolen.

And it became clear over the next few hours that it had. I'd closed the door to the cubicle, but I hadn't locked it, and someone had grabbed my computer.

I didn't just lose the laptop, either. I lost a lot of our Kalimantan photos and tape. I'd tried to back up my new Mac before the conference, but my external hard drive was being cantankerous so I figured I'd do it when I got back.

I was in a fog all day. I managed to file a story, but in the process, I lost the key to the cubicle, which of course I was now locking religiously. I got snarled at by the facilities people, who said "We told you not to lose the key, we told you to make a copy, we told you this was the only one!"

"If they think several dozen reporters are going to be here for two weeks and never lose a key, they're sadly mistaken," I said to Chad, and I confess I felt a certain evil satisfaction when I heard somebody else had lost theirs.

I felt no satisfaction, though, when more stories of laptop thefts emerged. Apparently at least half a dozen were taken. Security was very tight at the conference; there were endless checkpoints, searches, x-ray machines, and uniformed guards with guns that looked real. But anti-terrorism is not the same as anti-theft, and I think someone failed to do their anti-theft homework on this one.

Security warnings went up a week later

Luckily for me, Chad was his usual generous self and never blamed me for the loss. Now we're back in Jakarta, regrouping. It's good to be home. Luckily we have some work to dive into. When you're freelancing, work is the solution to every problem.


KDPaine said...

I heard your report on NHPR this afternoon as I was driving down from Berlin in a raging snowstorm and thought "damn, I wish I was where she is, in beautiful Bali with all these interesting people." Now I'm kinda glad I'm in a snowstorm in New Hammpshire

kopisusu2 said...

Ha! That's great. Enjoy your snow. I miss it, and the way the conference is going, I'm feeling pessimistic about its future.

I can't say I miss driving down from Berlin in a snowstorm, though ... I did my share of those trips, sometimes at 3 a.m. and -30 degrees, to get down to those NHPR on-air fundraisers we all love.

Thanks for checking in!