Humans have a wonderful capacity to create things, and a wonderful capacity to destroy things. Today I was on the receiving end of having one of my things destroyed.
Someone stole the 1993 Nissan Sentra that we parked on the street outside our home in relatively crime-free Palo Alto.
The Palo Alto Police said that recently in South Bay there have been a lot of thefts of Nissans, Hondas, and Acuras by a professional ring that chops the cars for parts.
So in all likelihood, I'm never seeing the car again. Which reminds me that in life, we often do not get a chance to say goodbye -- and that I should count my blessings that what I lost was a vehicle I loved for the last eight years, and not a pet, friend, or family member.
The biggest shame comes from the Insurance Company, of course, which would only reimburse the appraised value of the car, which is something less than a grand.
This is neither the value the car had to me yesterday -- as someone who just spent 800 dollars to replace the brakes -- nor the value of the car to me today -- because buying a car that was kept in such good condition is likely to cost me several thousand dollars.
It's not even the value the car had to the thieves -- the radio alone was worth several hundred dollars, for example.
And yet, the Insurance Company believes the whole is worth less than the sum of the parts. And since it is a Corporation, it cannot be reasoned with. A policy is a policy, and policies do not cater to the whims and wants of humans.
So I'm sitting here in stage three of the five stages of coping with loss -- denial, bargaining, anger, despair/depression, acceptance -- and I'm angry because there's nothing a person can do about such loss. Such loss just randomly happens -- it can happen at any time -- and when it does, the person... just... loses. Even if they catch the person(s) who thieved, in all likelihood the car is long gone, and there's no way to repair the damage if it did, indeed, get chopped.
Deborah said to think of it as an altruistic organ donor, giving its life so that other 1993 Nissan Sentras can live (and pumping up the economy, because the thieves will spend their money consuming, and other Nissan owners will spend for the parts and labor to get their cars fixed with pieces of my car). That thought made me smile a little, and made the anger subside a little.
Tapping into the remaining anger, I remind myself to go home to see the presidential debate tonight. I ask myself if I'm better off than four years ago. Gasoline costs more but I have one less car than I did; health care costs more (both for humans and for pets) but I have lost some weight; university tuititions cost more so I have dropped out of school; my salary is flat and I went into deep debt to start KnowNow but I have paid back some of that debt and have a plan for paying back the rest in the coming years; and my rent costs less but if I wanted to buy a house that would cost a lot more. I don't feel better off than four years ago, but I don't feel a lot worse off, either.
I did quit caffeine 5 days ago and have had bad headaches for the past four days, so I'm sure that's contributing to my mood. Rohit sent me an article, Is Caffeine Withdrawal a Mental Disorder? (subtitle: 1 in 8 People Can't Function Without Daily Fix) by Sid Kirchheimer:
Griffiths' analysis shows as little as one cup of coffee can cause an addiction and withdrawal from caffeine produces any of five clusters of symptoms in some people:Lovely. Feels like I'm in a perfect mood to watch the presidential debate: I've got a headache from caffeine withdrawal, I'm pissed off about my car getting stolen, and I've realized that I'm not better off than I was four years ago.
"Onset of these symptoms typically occurs within 12 to 24 hours of stopping caffeine and peaks one to two days after stopping," Griffiths tells WebMD. "The duration is between two and nine days."
- Headache, the most common symptom, which affects at least of 50% of people in caffeine withdrawal
- Fatigue or drowsiness
- "Unhappy" mood, depression, or irritability
- Difficulty concentrating
- Flu-like symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, muscle pain, and stiffness.
A new revelation in Griffith's analysis may be what upgrades caffeine withdrawal from its current "more study is needed" status to "disorder" status: These withdrawal symptoms are severe enough in about one in eight people to interfere with their ability to function on a day-to-day basis.
"The withdrawal symptoms can be mild or severe, but it's estimated that 13% of people develop symptoms so significant that they can't do what they normally would do -- they can't work, they can't leave the house, they can't function," he says.
So now I'm thinking about the person (or people) who stole my car, and wondering how bad they have it that they had to desperately resort to Less-than-a-Grand Theft Auto to feed themselves (and/or their drug habits), and wondering if they're worse off than they were four years ago. If I met the person (or people) I would probably be sorely disappointed that they are far less needy than I imagine them to be. But in all likelihood I've been dealt a better hand in life than they've been dealt, and therefore I should count my blessings instead of whining about my loss.
I think about my family. I said earlier that in all likelihood, I'm never seeing the car again, which reminds me that in life, we often do not get a chance to say goodbye. I'm glad my family is still around. Tomorrow my grandmother turns 90 -- and I think about 0, 30, 60, 90 and decide that tomorrow morning I will surprise her with a "Happy Birthday" phone call.
As for tonight, I think I'll give my mom and dad a call... just to tell them that I miss them and I love them. A person really cannot say those things enough.