What’s the worst thing that a thief can steal from you?
Your wallet maybe? This would usually contain a combination of cash, credit cards and ID. You might lose a bit of money (not too much if you swiftly cancel any cards) and need to replace the ID but overall it wouldn’t be the end of the world.
How about your car or bike? Such items are likely to be worth way more than the cash in your wallet, not to mention the inconvenience of then finding alternative methods of transport; these are huge items to get stolen.
What about your smartphone? Contacts, photos, conversation history – if you don’t use the cloud then some of these items will never be recoverable. Add in the value of the phone itself and you’ve got a prime contender for ‘worst item to be stolen’.
So the phone wins right? Wrong…
I was robbed in Sydney in broad daylight.
But I wasn’t robbed of my wallet, bike or phone.
I was robbed of my freedom.
And believe me, freedom is a far worse thing to be stolen that the material items one would typically think of.
So…how did it happen?
It all happened on a sunny Wednesday afternoon in Sydney. I’d just been to the beach and was heading home for lunch.
My mode of transport was a Carpe Orbea – a hybrid bicycle that over the last few months had become my most prized possession.
I was cycling down Oxford St minding my own business – within seconds of reaching home – when suddenly a motorbike appeared from nowhere.
Time both slowed down and sped up.
Millisecond by millisecond, I watched in horror as this motorbike appeared from my right hand side and edged towards my trajectory. I slammed on my brakes, attempting to take control of the situation.
However, it was clear that we were on a direct collision course. I did all that I could at that point – braced for impact.
All too soon, time sped up again. We collided. I flew. I landed.
Before I knew it I was lying on my back in the middle of the road, bleeding from my head and clutching my ankle. Soon after, a passerby came to my aid and started talking to me.
Then the police arrived – as did an ambulance (after an all too lengthy wait I may add) – and even a fire truck to divert traffic around me!
Fast-forwarding through all the boring details, the outcome of the crash was as follows: 3 stitches to the head to seal up a deep cut, plus a broken ankle.
So how does that relate to my freedom being stolen?
Well, prior to the crash I would regard myself as having ultimate freedom. I lived close to the centre of Sydney and used my bicycle to go wherever I wanted, whenever I wanted. I would explore all corners of the city: watching sunsets, trying new food, visiting friends or going to the beach.
If someone invited me over for dinner, I’d be on my bike in a flash. If the weather looked good, I’d cycle all the way to beach for a swim. If there was an event going on down by the harbour, I’d be there (on my bike of course!).
However, after the crash I suddenly had all of this taken away from me – it was like someone turned out the light in my life. I’d gone from social explorer to housebound patient in the mere blink of an eye.
My broken ankle meant that I had to wear a protective boot for 6-8 weeks and limit my physical activity to hobbling between bed, bathroom and sofa. For someone who’s used to daily exercise and being outside, this was an absolute nightmare.
My freedom was well and truly stolen.
What happened after that?
Luckily, this story does have a happy ending.
Firstly though, I want to point out that I actually regard myself as being quite lucky – the result of the crash could’ve been so much worse than it was. Spinal issues, brain damage, complex bone fractures – these were all entirely possible and yet I escaped with just a broken ankle and a few stitches. In this regard, I got lucky.
So after sitting tight and resting my ankle for what seemed like an eternity, my insurance company eventually got in touch and proposed a solution; “We want to bring you back to the UK for any further treatment Mr Jones, here are 3 flight options for you to choose from”.
The good news was that my insurance would cover the cost of these flights. The not-so-good news was that the flight options all left in less than 36 hours time, giving me just a day to pack my things and say goodbye to my friends.
But that’s not the best bit…
The craziest surprise ever came when I arrived at the airport to check in for my chosen flight – I was flying business class!!
You’ll have to wait for my next blog post to find out what that experience was like…
Other travel stories you might be interested in: