Last week, Sara and I returned to our apartment from a dinner with friends and noticed our front door had been jimmied open. There were wood chips in the hallway—wood that had once belonged to our door. We walked inside and then noticed our two Mac laptops were missing.
I’ll be writing about this more later. But for now the short version is that the police came right over in force—about a dozen of them. They dusted our door for fingerprints; they dusted our fridge. (“Maybe the robber was thirsty.”) They did not dust the coffee table where the laptops had been sitting.
The next morning we went to the police station in order to basically introduce ourselves to the local police commander and explain that we loved our laptops very much. Most of the time there was spent in a general’s office, where we were asked a few questions about the crime and far more questions about how our Arabic studying was going. At one point, the general, who sported an impressive moustache and the terminal stages of a comb-over, ordered me over to his desk. He wanted me to show him my Arabic homework.
That’s when he discovered I had been learning dirty words. Then I told him some jokes I know in Arabic. (“A guy is walking with a monkey. Along comes a hash-addict….”) When I finished, he sat stone-faced for a moment. Then he burst our laughing.
“I like this man!” he said, pinching my cheeks.
After I exhausted my jokes and after they exhausted their curiosity about the crime, a brief silence fell over the room.
“Is there anything else we are waiting for?” my landlord asked the general.
“Yes,” said the general. “We are waiting for Mr. Eric to finish his tea.” I did, earning a goodbye hug and kiss from Mr. General.
A few hours later, our computers were back, though it wasn’t the police who got ‘em.
Again, the short version: It turns out there is only one computer guy in Damascus who services Macs. Our friend—and fellow Mac owner—Rasha gave him a call. In turn, Mr. Mac called the few computer stores in town that buy/sell Apples and alerted them to two MacBooks on the loose. Minutes later, he got a call back from a store owner saying that one of his employees had just bought two Macs just like ours.
The serial numbers matched and a few hours later, the computers were brought back to our house by Mr. Mac. They were in the backpack they were first taken in. (And my computer files had never been accessed.)
I would post photos of it all—if only our digital camera hadn’t been stolen too.
P.S. We now have a much heavier lock on our door. Also, using the deadbolt the first time around would have been a good idea.