Editorial Notebook

Being robbed made me confident

Shards of glass scattered the rough asphalt, voices yelled out in frantic desperation, feet shuffled back and forth in a nervous sway. I stared at the scene before me, processing the previous hours leading up to this exact moment. A single question buzzed loudly in my head: How could this happen?

11 hours prior to the incident, my family and I had just woken up in our small Airbnb apartment in downtown Montreal. We had come to Canada, along with my cousins, to celebrate my 18th birthday. None of us anticipated the nerve-racking event that would occur within the day. It was the second day of our trip, which we planned to spend driving around downtown and sightseeing. The day was filled with laughter and taking ridiculous photos of ourselves.

We spent time gazing at the Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal, browsing through trinkets in gift stores, and tasting the various snacks displayed in the food carts lining the streets.

As the sun slowly began to set, we began looking for a place to eat dinner. Walking down the cobblestone streets, we scanned the menus posted outside of each restaurant. Unfortunately, most of them had an hour-long wait which wasn’t ideal since it was already 8 pm. My older cousin, Neil, suggested we head back to the car and search for restaurants with less wait time. My parents, aunt, and uncle agreed and we headed down the street to the parking lot. As we walked, my brother, Akshay, grabbed my shoulder and asked what it felt like to almost be an adult. I chuckled at the comment and simply replied that nothing felt different, but deep down I was nervous. I wasn’t sure if I was ready to go to college and be on my own, to no longer have my family and friends near me. It was almost frightening how fast the time had gone. 18 years had flashed by in a blink of an eye.

I was quickly brought out of my thoughts when I noticed glass shards littering the floor near our van. My mom and I rushed over and discovered that the rental van’s side windows had been smashed. A scratch mark streaked across its white surface, and there was a crack in the back window. My mom yelled out to my dad to unlock the car and swung open the door. Our camera bag, my mom’s purse, and my dad’s laptop bag were all missing. My mom and aunt frantically searched the van hoping the bags had just slipped under the seats, but they were all gone. I stared at my mom as she took a seat along the side of the parking lot in complete bewilderment.

“Our passports and the keys to the apartment are gone,” she sighed heavily, running her hand through her hair. My brother and I glanced at each other, still processing what had happened. We were stuck in Canada with no passports and no way to get into our Airbnb.

A strange sense of calmness came over me, as Neil and I took charge of the situation. Neil and Akshay ran to a nearby store to ask for a broom and plastic bags while Aakash, my younger cousin, and I searched the area around the parking lot. We searched every dumpster and box but returned only with the smell of garbage stuck in our noses. I spotted a security camera positioned at the front of the alley, but that too would end up useless as it didn’t catch the thief’s face. I then spotted another alleyway opposite from us. As Aakash and I headed towards the alleyway I noticed my mom still sitting by the edge of the parking lot with my aunt comforting her. I told my aunt to join Aakash in searching the alleyway while I took her place at the edge of the parking lot. When I was younger, my mom would always remain calm and collected during stressful situations. She always told us that everything would be ok. Now, I realized it was my turn to be strong and reassure her.

“We can’t change what happened,” I told her. She nodded her head, the worry still in her eyes.

“Come on let’s go help them search,” I suggested, hoping that by helping in the search her nerves would subside. Together we walked towards the alleyway, when Aakash comes running out towards us with my mom’s purse in his hands. He found it abandoned in a dumpster in one of the alleys towards the far right of the parking lot. The thief had stolen twenty dollars worth of cash, but her credit cards and phone were still in the purse, along with the key to our Airbnb. It was a small victory, but we still were missing our passports. The rest of the night was spent at the police station filling out forms and alerting the embassy about the stolen passports. The next morning, the embassy informed us that all of us were cleared to re-enter the United States.

Fortunately, on our last day in Canada, my dad received a call from a man who had found a bag with our passports and my dad’s business cards inside left outside his shop.

Though this situation was not ideal, I surprised myself with how I was able to stay calm and collected in the heat of the moment. Now that I’m at Rensselaer, I realized that at that moment I was more capable of handling the pressure and the stress of being on my own than I had thought. The transition to college was scary, similar to the robbery, but I was able to keep myself grounded and focus on each step instead of letting the bigger picture overwhelm me. With every small victory, whether it was successfully completing my first Data Structures homework, to stepping out of my comfort zone by joining The Polytechnic, I continued to solidify that confidence in my own ability. The road ahead is uncertain, but I know I’ll be able to handle it.