The day my violin got lost on the subway 🚇

It was my dear neighbour who shared with me the story of a missing Carcassi violin on the Toronto's TTC a few days ago on December 18th, 2020. 

I have hope that it will be located and returned!

Here is my own missing violin story:

It was July 15th, 2012 at 12:30 a.m. when I realized that my violin was missing: my 1888 Vincenzo Postiglione, my livelihood, my voice... and a recent (and considerable investment) purchase.

A frantic, focused search of my place quickly revealed that something was wrong. A flashback to earlier that evening went through my mind: 

“Could you please bring my violin down on the subway for me? … Make sure my it gets home okay?” 

I had placed my fiddle in the care of trusted and capable hands to deliver to me later that evening while I rode my bike home. 

Upon arrival that night, I casually asked, “Hey, do you have my violin?” 

There was silence. Fight, Flight... or... Freeze. Shock, panic. There was no violin. Only empty hands on arrival. There was wide-eyed terror and a determined, grim silence on my end. 

This was my violin, a precious instrument... precious to me! 

My mind raced through the worst possible outcomes and struck them each down with rebuttals of rationality and reassurance:

My violin is insured...” 

Someone will return it to me tomorrow....” 

It’s just a ...thing.” 

My father’s words, uttered to me in my teenage years, echoed in my head: “Guard your violin. Like a gun to a soldier.” 

Faced with the reality of the situation, I found myself confronted with the question: 

What is *really* important? 

At that moment, my violin was gone, yet... I still had my soul. I still had my heart, my voice... the things that really mattered. This violin was just an object.... a thing. At the end of the day, it’s *stuff.*... And you can always replace *stuff.* 

I reminded myself that this could have happened to anyone. I told my companion (who was by this point, deep in a state of panic) that even Yo-Yo Ma had left his cello in the back of a New York taxi cab. 

With determination, we descended into the underground to conduct a joint search. I resolved to stay hopeful and to maintain my faith in honest and integrous citizenry. 

I stood on the subway platform and prayed: “Pleasesomeonereturnmyviolintomorrow. Pleasesomeonereturnmyviolintomorrow...” 

It was after 1 a.m. and each subway station on our search revealed nothing. We resigned our search at Union Station, minutes after the final train departed. Though we left empty-handed, we noted appreciatively the genuine concern expressed by each of the TTC officials. 

Little did I know that within half an hour of my violin’s disappearance, an email had arrived in my inbox promising good news. A couple had spotted my violin on the train, which had made it several stops to Union Station. 

The husband was justifiably cautious and wary of the unusual bag left abandoned in the TTC: “What if it’s a bomb?” 

“No, it looks like it’s just a violin.” His wife suspected that it had to be of great importance to its owner. 

The kind lady and her husband resolved to take the potential “bomb” home and to begin their own search in lieu of handing it over to Lost and Found.  

Thanks to the internet (and a National Ballet of Canada-issued luggage tag), their search was quick and fruitful. What an amazing thing the internet is! It was social media that provided me my immediate help-line to the world and helped me to spread the word so quickly of my violin’s disappearance. 

At 2:00am, my phone call to the couple was answered without hesitation. With much relief, I discovered that my violin was safe. The next day, I had my instrument back safe in my hands. I was back to playing Beethoven immediately the same afternoon. 

On reflection, it was not the disappearance of my instrument that humbled me so much as seeing the outpouring of support from friends and strangers across the internet. Tweets and Facebook posts were sent at lightning speed across the North American continent, as far away as Newfoundland, British Columbia, California, and Oregon. I knew I had ‘friends’ that cared. 

With my violin back in my hands, I felt incredibly humbled by the honesty and integrity of Torontonians. I am so grateful to Maria De Oliveira Laffin and Paul Laffin who serve as a testament to the compassion and humanity of Canadians. What a great country and culture we have! 

I am grateful to everyone who provided an immediate response to help.

Eight and a half years later, in 2020, I have been interviewed by The Toronto Star and posted the news of the missing Carcassi on my social media feeds in hopes that karma will circle around and help the owner locate their missing violin, just as I had in 2012. 

I do have faith in humanity and we can make Christmas miracles happen!

If ever there was a year to remember how much better we can make the world with our compassion and collective care of others, this would be the time.

Please share and read the Toronto Police Report found here.

Blog cover image photos: TTC photo by Jha Visuals and violin scroll by James Beedham on Unsplash.

Gun/soldier photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen on Unsplash.
TTC photo by Pedram Farjam on Unsplash.
Photo credit: Bo Huang

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