Thursday, December 4, 2008

New backpack, vegging at bookstores, and my $500 lunch with coworkers

I bought a new backpack for my MacBook Pro and have been excited to use it. It's the Patagonia Lightwire 25. It's well-designed, low-profile and relatively lightweight. It doesn't have so many pockets that you forget where you put something, the zippers open and close with one hand, the laptop area is well-padded, and it even has neat little features like special pockets to store dangling straps. After being in the hospital I realized that most of my creature comforts like my laptop, books, New Yorker magazines, snacks, camera, and other small things could easily fit in a backpack, so it seemed simpler to keep them all in one place instead of scattered around the house. I was also looking forward to spending some quality veg-out time at my favorite coffee shops and bookstores now that I'm feeling better, and my messenger bag can get heavy over the shoulder. The backpack also works much better on a scooter than a messenger bag. So there you go.

For the last few days I've been content to just stay at home and putter around the house, but today I was looking forward to venturing out into the world. I set up a lunch date with some coworkers for that afternoon, and then decided to spend the morning hanging out a local bookstore. I know, tough decisions, huh. After reading this uber-hardcore post from our friend, Nic, about how he ran 2 marathons and a 50k race over just 3 days this last weekend, I was pumped, and decided to hike down to the bookstore which is a little over 3 miles away. Hey, you gotta start somewhere. It would also give me a chance to use my new backpack. Woohoo! I know, I know, it doesn't take much to get me excited. BTW Nic has started running marathons (yes, plural) on behalf of the leukemia and lymphoma society, which is a great organization. Nic is my hero. He and Rachael also came to visit me in the hospital and gave me a bunch of cool stuff to watch on DVD. They make a mean turkey burger and are generally way cooler than I am. So armed with an audiobook on my iPhone, gloves and a hat, I set off for Third Place Books in Ravenna. It was a great walk, since you can stick to residential back streets the whole way, and it felt really good to get some exercise. Listening to an audiobook while walking I think is a great way to pace yourself, since I find that I walk really fast when I'm by myself with nothing to keep me occupied. I discovered the joy of podcasts and audiobooks while I was in the hospital since I couldn't keep my eyes open for long to read or watch movies, but I could listen to an audiobook with little effort. Right now I'm listening to The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. After hanging out at the bookstore for a bit, I headed back home. Total mileage: 6.8 miles. Not bad!

I had enough time to get back and shower for lunch, then headed down to Capitol Hill to meet my coworkers. I grabbed some cash from a debit machine, paid a lame $3 finance charge, and slurped up a bowl of pho. One of my coworkers paid for lunch and another paid for coffee afterwards! The sun was out and everything was just great. Except that when I arrived at my next hangout spot that afternoon, the wonderful Elliot Bay Book Company, I couldn't find my debit card when I went to pay for parking. Panic set in, as I realized I must have left it in the ATM machine earlier before lunch. I sped back to the bank. At each red light I tried to check my bank account from my iPhone. By the time I parked I finally got logged in, and was horrified to see a slew of ATM withdrawals totaling $500. Holy crap, this really sucks, I'm thinking. I freaked out even more when I remembered that my card is also a VISA card and that this person could potentially wipe out my entire bank account and savings account, since it automatically overdrafts from savings. I called the credit union to get my card blocked, and we verified that no credit card charges were made against it. Whew. It's one thing to have a credit card stolen and a few thousand bucks racked up on it, since you can get the charges reversed without feeling any pain, but it's quite another to have the same thing happen against your bank account where real money is flying out the door. I'm essentially living off what's in my bank account for these months that I'm off work, so I was pretty damn scared. I guess I've been in the hospital so long that I forgot how to use an ATM machine. I'm pretty sure what happened is that I left the card in the machine and that the screen was still showing the "Yes, I'd like another transaction" message, so the thief didn't even need to know my PIN. Easy money, I'm sure a lot of people would have been tempted. Anyway, I got the dispute forms and filled them out so hopefully the missing cash will show up in a few days. Scary!

After that I went back to the Elliot Bay Book Company, browsed some books and hung out for a while in the nice, but dark, cafe downstairs, then headed over to pick up Johanna and her mom. All in all it might not seem that adventurous, but for me this was a very exciting day :)


obscurity said...

Fortunately, taking someone else's money without their consent is illegal. There is no consent implied nor expressed by leaving your card in the ATM ... and better news, ATMs have cameras. This ending should write itself.

Hopefully your bank will do the right thing and reverse those charges and pursue the criminal who perpetrated those acts against your checking account.

Keep me posted on how this turns out. That type of thing kinda really pisses me off ... you are (again) handling it so much better than I would. You best get well soon ... because you have a lot to teach me.

Nic said...

6.8 miles!!! That's awesome! I so intend on working you up to, oh say, 26.2? ;-) Thanks for the kind words but I doubt I'll ever be cooler than you... c'mon, you ride a vintage Vespa... how can I compete with that ;-)

Sorry to hear about your ATM mishap, that sucks, Rachael did a similar thing in Portland last year, it's an easy mistake.

Hope to see you soon (perhaps this weekend?).

lynda said...

CRAP! that *totally* sucks! obscurity makes a good point about the ATM cam, hope they get the person on that. ugh. :(

Steve Rider said...

Yeah, when I talked to the bank the woman said the first thing they'll do is pull the security footage. I'm not sure if they do that to go after the guy, or if they're mainly doing it to verify my story :)

Klondike Kelly said...

I've been reading a lot of Gaiman too... I found I could check out the whole Sandman / Death series from the Seattle Public Library.

BTW, I ran into SimonB and he updated me on everything you've been going though.

George said...

As I recently learned from my dieting... walking 1 mile burns the same amount of calories as running 1 mile. There are studies that show maybe 10% more with running. But when it's only 100 calories a mile walking and then 110 with running.

Add to that the weight of your backpack and you got a pretty serious workout. So that's great yer feeling so well. Keep at it man!!

$$500?? That's some expensive Pho. Phock me bro.