Something both bizarre and terrifying happened the other day at the office. But it only dawned on me last night.
I teach at a high profile International English school situated in an exclusive Shopping center in a posh area of Jakarta. I am one of only two foreigners working in the center—correction: in the entire mall—while all the other employees are Indonesian.
That day, I was working at my desk and I heard a commotion at the front desk, so I inquired to find out what was happening. The front desk staff were talking and debating about a mysterious lady who had just come in, her face hidden behind a full Niqab, and then left a package before leaving in a haste.
The package wasn’t addressed to anyone in particular, not even to the school, it only had the name of the Mall on it. Highly Suspicious, right?
I asked to see the parcel and felt its shape and weight in my hands. “It feels like a cellphone”, I said with a misplaced sense of confidence.
Now, I still don’t fully understand why, but I proceeded to open this dodgy parcel without thinking. I was suddenly witnessing myself doing this in a detached way, knowing something was wrong. It was much akin to an outer body experience and I felt like screaming: STOP!, but didn’t.
It was a cellphone after all.
Along with the cellphone were a handwritten note and a similar, typed one. My colleagues translated the notes and explained that the person who wrote it was saying they had previously taken a phone that did not belong to them. They were expressing remorse and asking forgiveness from both God and the phone’s owner.
I brought the cellphone and notes to the Center Director and gave her the gist of what had just transpired. According to her, no phone had ever been reported stollen in our center. Surreal.
I was not reprimanded for this. But in retrospect, this is one of the most foolish episodes of my young life. The envelope could have contained any number of perils: a bomb, a nerve agent, a chemical weapon, etc.
Before today, I had never given much thought to the fact that our company and I are a legitimate target for some deranged lunatics who are apparently on the rise in this country.
What was I thinking!?! The only foreigners in the building! An International English school!
So what was it then, that compelled me to do such a senseless thing? Was it curiosity that made me potentially risk my life and the lives of others without purpose or reason? With a pregnant wife at home, I acted in a brash and impulsive way: I deeply regret my actions. But regret is futile.
Here is a lesson I must never forget.