Saturday, October 24, 2009

Stop, Thief!

I don't believe I've ever had a premonition before, but I think I might have had one tonight. While getting ready to go out, I was putting things into a clutch bag and for some reason decided not to bring my whole little wallet with my debit and credit cards. Instead, I just tucked some cash and my ID into a pocket of my purse along with my requisite lip gloss and gum.

I told Laura on our way to the metro that I wasn't taking my debit card with me, "I just have a bad feeling about tonight, I feel like we're going to encounter a purse snatcher," I said. She said she'd wished I had told her that before we left the apartment but then we went on our way and forgot about it.

Cut to several hours later and we were walking with my friend from school toward the metro through the old gothic quarter (at 4am, our first mistake, and speaking English, our second mistake). The three of us were walking on the sidewalk, I was closest to the buildings, Laura was closest to the street and my friend was in between. Suddenly, I heard my friend from school shout a not nice name at someone. By the time I turned my head, she was running across the street after a man in a white jacket and Laura was running after her. I took off after them and we ran for several blocks after the thief.

Eventually she lost him and we started to think about what we should do. Then a girl rode up on her bike, took one look at us and asked if we'd just been robbed. We said yes and she offered to ride around the block and look for the thief or any belongings that might have been dropped.
Amazingly, she returned about 90 seconds later with my friend's wristlet, though empty and with the strap broken.

She offered to show us around the area where she'd found the bag and we actually found her keys and chapstick on the sidewalk. No sign of her phone, which I called repeatedly, hoping someone would answer so I could attempt to curse them out in broken Spanish, or her debit card, which she'll have to cancel and reorder.

The girl on the bike then walked us to the metro and along the way pointed out people who she said were thieves; I don't think I've ever clutched a clutch as hard as I did on that walk.

Unfortunately, this is just a part of life in Barcelona. As careful as you think you're being, you never know when someone is going to pop out of nowhere and throw a wrench into you're life; all for 30 euros and a cell phone.

I was struck though that, at the same time as something was happening to chip away at your faith in humanity, someone came along to build it back up and, for me at least, that will be the more lasting impression of this night and this city.

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