Monday, May 14, 2012

Brokedown Palace

When I was in college, I went to a Wide Mouth Mason concert at the West End Cultural Center in Winnipeg Manitoba.  It was a crisp winter day, I was with my bestie, we had a lovely dinner before the show and the band was outstanding.

While we were inside rocking out, someone broke into my car and stole my stereo, purse, coat, and bestie's coat.  Thankfully, we were still in the era where you could cross the Canadian border with your driver's license and didn't need a passport, because my passport and all my credit cards were stolen along with my purse.

We made it back home in the wee hours of the morning, and at a more civilized hour of the day, I called my mother and reported what had happened to me.  Instead of feeling sorry for me, as one should do with a person who has been the victim of a crime, she yelled at me about being irresponsible, chastised me for crossing the border into sinister Canada and failed to understand why I was even there in the first place, "You live in a big city, go to concerts there!"

Then, after that verbal drubbing, she called me back to tell me that I needed to change my locks.  In her mind, she had decided that these car stereo thieves would most likely look at the address on my checkbook that they had stolen, assume I had property worth stealing, and rob me in the night.  Nevermind the fact that Winnipeg was a four hour drive, transporting stolen goods across borders is always a bigger risk than ripping off a car stereo (I assume that thieves are practical people) and my car was worth approximately $2000--not exactly indicative of deep pockets on the homestead.

But I did what she said, went to Home Depot and bought a new deadbolt, then I settled in for a long night of tv watching and feeling sorry for myself.  When I had moved into this particular apartment, I got a cable deal where I would get free installation if I subscribed to Showtime for three months.  I quickly discovered that because I had Showtime, I could also see one channel in the HBO package--in black and white and without sound.  I took to watching Sex and the City in black and white with closed captioning, and on this sad wallow-y day, the movie Brokedown Palace was on.

For anyone not familiar, the plot, in a nutshell: Claire Danes and Kate Beckinsale are pals.  They go on vacation to Thailand, meet some boys, get arrested at the airport for smuggling drugs (unknowingly) and are eventually sentenced to 33 years in a very grim Thai prison.
No luxury in a Thai prison
 You might think that watching this movie in my fragile state would have left me weeping even more, but on the contrary, it gave me the perspective to muddle through my mess.  Yes, I had been robbed; yes, my mother yelled at me in an unjust way; yes, I was out $15 for a stupid, unnecessary new deadbolt but at least I wasn't in a Thai prison.

My biggest concern was canceling my credit cards, which I could do from the comfort of my own home, and getting my car repaired, which was a minor inconvenience compared to what poor Claire Danes went through.

It was on that grim day that I really learned that there's always someone sadder than you.  You may have it rough, but if you've got a roof over your head and access to food, you're still doing better than many.

For those that don't want to gain perspective with Claire Danes, I highly recommend the interactive game Spent.  Frugal living and reducing debt is just as much of a mental game as running a marathon, and you need to remember everything you do have, rather than focus on what you don't.

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