WARNING: Cute Cat Photo Used as Bait and Switch

At some point in my life, I became a gadget person. It’s hereditary—my dad has the same problem. I like shiny new toys, and I like researching the shiny new toys I want to buy. From my mother, I inherited a strong sense of frugality. And from my grandmother, I caught a pretty severe travel bug. These charming qualities combine to put me in a cesspool of horrifying situations.

At any given time I will have on my person: an iPhone, an iPod, an iPad, a laptop, and a camera. I’m often far from home. And I’m usually on a bus.

Home, sweet home

Right now, for instance, I’m sitting on the Sound Transit route 594 Seattle to Lakewood, typing this on my laptop. I’ve been looking at my phone every five minutes, and I might pull out my iPod later (especially if the old man across the aisle doesn’t figure out that his phone is playing through the speakers, not his headphones). This should make me a target for thieves, but for some reason, I have unusually good luck when it comes to not having my stuff stolen, especially given how often I fall asleep in these situations.

Sometimes I have a travel buddy to guard my possessions (the kind who take pictures like this one).

This is a dramatic reenactment. Unfortunately, the real photo is out there somewhere, and I don’t have a copy.

Sometimes I resist the welcoming arms of the sandman until all the creepy people have gotten off. Sometimes I pretend that the only thing of value I have with me is a dog-eared paperback. But most often, I’m just horribly, wonderfully lucky.

In a bout of insanity, I decided to take a Greyhound from Tennessee to western Montana. That is 46 hours of travel time. There I was, sitting on a series of buses, with my aforementioned iPod, phone, computer, and portable hard drive and passport. All of which were in my bag, by my feet, while I slept, sprawled out across two seats.

True, “sleeping” means quite a different thing on a sticky, rattling Greyhound than it does anywhere else in the world. Usually, I lean against the window with my headphones in my ears and drowse, waking up every time the lights come up and the driver announces a new stop.

But on this trip, I was out. I slept like I was in a feather bed at the Ritz after gorging myself on champagne and caviar from room service (whereas in reality, I had nothing to eat but tuna fish and peanut butter sandwiches for a day and a half). I woke up the next morning, stretched, ate another tuna fish sandwich, and didn’t notice anything was missing from my bag. Because nothing was.

When we changed buses somewhere between Bozeman and Butte, I stood salivating at the vending machine, and caught a snatch of conversation from behind me.

Everything in that vending machine looked 10 times more delicious than this.

“Wasn’t that crazy? I’ve never seen a driver that angry before.”

“Yeah, weird. I’m surprised no one came forward.”

In a moment of uncharacteristic extroversion, I turned around, tearing my eyes from the packets of bugles, and said, “Huh?”

And so my fellow passengers told me about how someone had stolen the driver’s ticket book, the bag from beside a sleeping man, and the coat that was covering his face while he slept. And the driver had stood at the front of the bus and told everybody, rather loudly, that he didn’t carry any money, so could the person who had taken the ticket book please return it to him and he wouldn’t press charges. Apparently, no one came forward.

Of course, I can’t be sure of that, because I missed everything. That’s what I get for napping.

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