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Expat experiences - power outages

By: Eric Gonzalez Posted: August-09-2011 in
Eric Gonzalez

Living in a foreign county means a lot of things to most people; those things can and do vary widely, but most people do end up with one experience in common, experiencing theft, and lots of it. It’s a fact of life, just being here makes you part of a population that suffers from increased petty theft, and adding to that, being an expatriate means that aspiring thieves think you have more money and peg you as a juicy target. My stories are the same as everyone’s else,

I’ve lost my wallet a few times, my mobile phones at least six times, my heart (metaphorically) a few times, and even a part of my house. What sets some of my thefts apart is that some of them were unusually ingenious. Here are a few of the thefts that have happened to me.

About a year ago, late at night, while I was sleeping, thieves scaled my apartment complex, climbed over and around many obstacles, cut through the razor wire, and used ropes to scale down the side of my building, and opened up my window. The window had bars, plenty of them, so the thieves were not going to get in, and I knew that so I left my wallet out on my desk. My desk was easily 3 or 4 meters from the window, so I believed that it was safe. But these thieves were smart ones; they had found a 4 meter PVC pipe on top of the complex, and a roll of tape. They reversed the tape and stuck it to one end of the pipe. Then, while hanging onto my window, 10 meters from the ground, they inserted the pipe and stuck the sticky end to my wallet, all while I was sleeping in the next room. Like most thieves, they have not been caught. They only made off with 80 or so dollars, but with such a daring plot, maybe they deserved it.

My next little story took place one month ago. About 4 in the morning I woke up hot and sweaty. The power was off, completely. I live in Cambodia, so when the power goes off, that’s usually normal, even if unfortunate. I took a cold shower and went back to sleep. A few hours later I woke up and the power was still off. Usually the power doesn’t stay off too long so instead of ignoring the problem I went outside and asked my neighbors. They had power, and had had it all night without any problems they told me. I went back inside and checked the house breaker, no problem either. With no option left I called a nearby maintenance man and he came over to help me figure out what the problem was. After looking over the house we followed the wire back to the power pole, all was good. Then we started to follow it from the box to the nearest transformer. We couldn’t follow it, the wire; the whole power line was gone. Not just mine it turned out, but several other people seemed to be missing their cables as well. Sometime that night, around 3 to 4 am someone had come to the transformer and the pole and cut down a half dozen power lines. Not only would that be difficult, take a long time, require a ladder and potentially be lethal, but the thieves had also done it in an area “watched” by the apartment security guards and where several other people slept outside. I’m not sure who got paid off in the end but someone had to have been. Replacing the cable was about 80$, oddly enough my landlord does not consider it part of the building, therefore it’s my personal loss and not his fault in any way.

My money, my mobile phone, my heart and my other things will all be stolen again in the future. I know and accept this, and when it happens, I will not be disappointed, I will only hope that the theft will be memorable so I can tell my story to others.


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