Standard operating procedures mean all the time, every time.
ROCHESTER, NY- I’m sitting in the dining area of Wegmans on the east side of Rochester and this guy who looks like a university professor — or some other professional type — leaves his MacBook Pro and his briefcase unattended on the table as he goes to take a leak or make a purchase or something.
I’m sitting directly across from him with my hand and neck tattoos, leather jacket, and tall leather engineer’s boots. A little ways from me is a bum — a real one. He has his bags and way too many layers of clothes on. A construction worker is nearby. Behind him is a black dude. A full array of typecasts that a wide swath of US society may associate with crime.
There are no security cameras. The staff is nowhere to be found. The door is 30 meters away.
The guy left his things sitting on that table for around fifteen minutes and then returned to find that …
… nobody stole anything.
Americans are often shocked when they travel abroad in many places and realize that people can leave valuables out and nobody will steal them.
“We can’t do that at home!” they often exclaim.
Actually, they can.
But they probably shouldn’t.
Places are safe and secure until suddenly they’re not. Theft often happens in the places we expect it the least.
When we are going through a rough part of a city or in a country with a high crime rate, we are on alert. We don’t carry our valuables with us at night. We keep the things we need deep inside of hidden pockets or behind locks. We watch out for ourselves like rabbits in an open field. We become difficult to rob.
But when we are in comfortable situations that seem safe — where everybody looks like us and you assume a general sense of security — we tend to relax our standards. We leave our valuables exposed … and this is when we are most susceptible to being jacked. I have heard far more stories of travelers having their laptops, phones, and other valuables stolen in hostels and other “safe” environs than being mugged in the streets.
Security in travel is an illusion — when you feel most comfortable is when you are at risk the most.
So when I got up from my seat in that Wegmans to go to the bathroom I …….
… packed up my MacBook, slipped it into my backpack, and took it all with me.
Giving people the opportunity to rob you isn’t being benevolently unsuspecting, it’s laziness. Standard operating procedures mean all the time, every time.