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Returns policy, recovering

01/06/2010

Place Masséna, Nice, by Chris Bontemps via Commons Wiki

There is a ghastly ghost in this machine, and - worse still - it is laughing at me!

I was robbed the other day. No threats, no mugging, no attack: simply the lightest of light fingers taking advantage of my momentary inattention to half-inch my combination purse/wallet. I arrived at the boulangerie, exchanged greetings and made my order. Reaching into my bag for my purse, I had one of those moments when your stomach plunges downwards and your lungs run out of puff.
“Waaaa …” I began.
The nice lady serving clocked the situation and looked at me sympathetically. “Maybe you’ve left it at home,” she suggested kindly. “Don’t worry, take your bread and pay when you come again.”

I raced home, tensed and praying furiously: ‘Please, pleasepleaseplease – let me find my money and cards on the table. Let mefind them lying there.’

Needless to say, they weren’t there. I ransacked the flat. They weren’t anywhere else, either (this story is beginning to take on a surreal flavour!). So I took the boring bureaucratic steps to cancel the cards, and the embarrassing one to borrow cash (I am decidedly not of the borrowing kind). But it could have been worse, and I have wonderful friends like Maude and Nadia who are happy to help.

The Usual Suspects: Protest in London, photo by Adam Smith (no, that that one) via Commons Wiki

Yes, it could have been much worse: I live in a city, crime-ridden despite a plentiful police presence that would be the envy of any UK town of similar size. So I know I must be vigilant. Hadn’t I already had a reminder? I suppose the fact that nothing untoward had happened to me before represented a blessing of sorts.  Almost. All the same, I looked upon Nice with the eyes of a victim for a couple of days. And that’s not a comfortable feeling, however minor the injury. But a few days later I encountered a middle-aged woman jogger gasping in dismay as she fruitlessly waved after the rapidly-disappearing form of a younger female runner who’d dropped her mobile. The latter raced away down the Prom’ in an athletic blur of  pounding legs, pumping elbows and flying pony-tail. “Try and see if you can speed-dial one of her friends,” I wheezed as I loped alongside. “Ah, of course!” whispered my companion, stopping with obvious relief. “The list is accessible, so

…”  I left her to it; one way or another I’m sure that lithe young lady got her mobile back.

Then it was my turn. Last Friday an acquaintance, Orla, rang to say that the gardien of a holiday apartment building a few streets away had found my purse discarded by the thief.  He’d handed it to the lettings agent, Madame Dalpozzo, who checked the contents for the owner’s contact details (none save my name).  Finding Orla’s business card, Madame Dalpozzo had ‘phoned her.  Orla had only my email address but luckily knew a couple of others who were bound to have my telephone number – sure enough, the first she called produced the goods.

So yesterday I ‘phoned Madame Dalpozzo, discovered that nothing but cash had been lost, and trotted over to recover the purse from its kind finders.  I offered flowers to Madame Dalpozzo and chocolates to the gardien.  They demurred, protesting what they’d done was ‘normal.’ Really? Not where I come from, it isn’t!

Now I have my purse and card holder back thanks to the sedulous civisme of all involved post-theft. Plus Nice – big, bad, bold and corrupt city that it may be – has once more demonstrated it is also a place where concentric social circles spin around fixed points of common decency in an orbit that can encompass anyone. Now I don’t feel remotely like a victim, more someone who’s been robbed of one thing only to be given something of greater value instead. Something to celebrate – any excuse for a hooley … Care to  join us?

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