Open Letter to the Thief at American Airlines

An Open Letter to the Thief at American Airlines

Hello Mr. or Ms. Sticky Fingers,

Back on April 3, 2015, I flew home on your airline. When I landed, one of my bags was missing.

I don’t know if that was something you did, or if another of your co-workers was just incompetent. Either way, I was heartbroken.

See, in that bag, I had an external hard drive with ALL the photos and videos of my children from the last 3 years. Because I’ve been so busy taking care of those children, who have chronic health issues, I stupidly hadn’t backed up those precious memories anywhere else.

I cried. I mourned.

Then I reached acceptance, beat myself up emotionally a little for not having backed up my data, and moved on.

A week and a half ago, I received word that American Airlines had found my bag!

Elation! Joy! Happy dancing everywhere I went!

The bag arrived at my house while I was at work, and I couldn’t wait to get home to hug that hard drive.

Then I got to look in my bag.

Many of my belongings were there. I was happy to see them.

But do you know what was missing?

YOU know, of course. 

All my computer stuff. 

The little drawstring bag I stored them in was still closed up tight, but my external hard drive, flash drive, computer cable, and other cables were gone.

You went through my bag, opened the drawstring bag, and took my children’s childhoods away from me. 

I’m sure the idea you had is to erase everything off the hard drive and sell it for $20 or so.

With all the outsourcing, downsizing, and general jerkiness all airlines are putting their employees through lately, I can understand the desire to “get back” a little of what you ‘think’ you deserve.

We airline employees have been put through the wringer the last 14 years. I get it.

Oh, you didn’t know that, did you? I’m a fellow airline employee. (Hmm…I’m not sure how you missed it, since my work tools clearly labeled with my airline information were RIGHT NEXT to the drawstring bag you pilfered.) 

Guess you didn’t care that you were stealing from a co-worker.

Guess you didn’t care that you were “getting what you deserve” from someone who had nothing  to do with how your company has messed with you.

Guess you didn’t care about the Ten Commandments (wouldn’t your mother be proud?).

Guess you didn’t care about the LAW.

Guess you didn’t care about anyone but yourself.

If you had taken EVERYTHING in that bag – even the bag itself – but returned that hard drive to me, I would have been ecstatically thrilled. 

It was the only thing I truly cared about. 

Instead, in your heartless greed, you stole the irreplaceable, precious memories of my children’s childhoods. 

I should be kind, compassionate and understanding. I should extend the olive branch. I should offer forgiveness. I’m Christian, after all. That’s kind of what we do.

I hope you’ll forgive me for struggling with that right now.

Right now, I feel that genital herpes aren’t good enough for you. (Except someone as selfish and sociopathic as you would surely spread an STD to some unsuspecting innocent, and I can’t be a part of that.)

I’d like your car to be stolen. (Except then insurance would likely have to pay you, and even then, you might just steal someone else’s car to replace your own, and I can’t be part of that.)

I’d like a large bag you’re stealing from in the future to fall on you and break an obscure bone that will never heal correctly and cause you a lifetime of pain. (Except that workmans comp and disability will pay you money, and I don’t want you to get off easy.)

I’d like you to go to prison. (Except in the big house, you’d probably only learn better ways to be a criminal, and I certainly don’t want someone with your obvious cruelty to get “trained up” to be more dangerous.)

Hmm. Well. Since I can’t come up with a punishment great enough or appropriate enough for you that doesn’t backfire in some way, I guess I just have to suck it up and deal with my loss.

The truth is, though, that I don’t have to wish you any ill will or sully my spirit harboring anger and hate towards you. Whether my brain can envision it or not, you WILL get punished for this somehow. 

I could say “karma will get you”, but that’s not really a Christian concept.

No, Christians believe that you reap what you sow.

You obviously sow seeds of discord and sin with your life.

You get to reap that. Your life must be hell on earth, and that’s exactly what you deserve.

You could repent; feel actual  remorse for the bad choices you’ve made and the pain and heartache that you’ve caused, and be reborn.

I hope you do that. 

It won’t return my children’s memories to me, but it would make it less painful to bear, for me, knowing you’ve been saved and turned your life around to be an agent of God in this world.

Whether you do or don’t, though, the fact remains that while you stole some precious memories from me, I still have the two most amazing, kind, sweet, loving children in the world to savor raising.

This event will be a great teaching tool to my boys about theft, right and wrong, and forgiveness. They’ll never be the kind of person you are now, and they outnumber you two-to-one.

I’m pretty happy with that.

You know, writing this letter to you has helped me work through some of my hurt. Forget all the stuff I said about herpes and stolen cars.

I guess I CAN offer you forgiveness.

To forgive doesn’t mean to forget, though. From now on, every single thing I pack in my suitcases will be labeled prominently with my name and contact information, like a kid going away to their first sleep-away camp.

It probably is a lot harder to hock something labeled so clearly. 

And I will still watch my bags being loaded and unloaded on the plane as often as I am able.

But if I don’t forgive you, that will leave a mark on my soul that will help poison my life. That is something I cannot  allow you to do to me. 

So, you heartless, cruel, sticky-fingered jerk: you’re forgiven. 

You’re not worth hating. 

I’m too busy loving my family and making more memories (saved in at least 3 locations). 

Now get yourself to church and learn what God’s forgiveness feels like. 

And stop stealing!

With Love,
With Regard,
With Friendship,
God’s Peace be With You,

Your Victim

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5 Responses to Open Letter to the Thief at American Airlines

  1. rpcvmama27 says:

    I”m so sorry the hard drive wasn’t there. I had hoped and prayed that the one thing that would make it’s way back to you would be that. Did the airline offer any explanation? Where was it found? Who found it? What city did it end up in?! This is such a crazy story I feel robbed for you. Hugs and love.

    • Carrie says:

      Thanks for the prayers. I’d hoped and prayed the same thing. The airline didn’t offer any explanation; their central baggage office in Dallas just notified me that they “may” have something that belonged to me, and to please call them to verify. That’s it. I have no idea where my bag was or who found it. Crazy, right? Hugs back!!

  2. Lesly says:

    What an unbelievable turn! You have my dearest sympathies!!! As I was reading the update about this tragedy, I had the thought of using an engraving pen to etch your info into your items…. “THIS ITEM STOLEN FROM… then your info.” You might also add “Reward if found.” I would imagine that a person can’t easily sell something that says “Stolen From.” An item marked as such would probably offer the ‘finder’ better $$ for returning it if not outright avoiding it. I’m still so heartsick to read that this has happened.

    • Carrie says:

      Thank you, Lesly! I’ve thought about an engraving pen, but since I’ve never used one before I’m a little worried I’ll mess it up. I think I’m going to look for a permanent, bright silver paint pen to write ALL over my items! That will really stand out on all these black computer pieces and make it obvious: don’t steal me!

      Great ideas on writing more than just my name! I may simply write “Property of” instead of “stolen from”, though; wouldn’t want people to think *I* was the thief! LOL

      Thanks for the sympathies. The worst part was having made my peace with the loss, then getting all excited thinking I would have those precious memories back, and then finding they were still gone. Oh, well. I can’t stay mad about this. But I appreciate the support! Hugs!

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