Making Out Like a Bandit
I had just gotten off one city bus and boarded a second. Putting my backpack on my lap, I prepared to relax for the last leg of my trip when I looked down and saw that one of its compartments was open. A rapid, quietly panicked inspection revealed that my wallet was gone.
Quickly I pressed the button to get off at the next stop so that I could begin retracing my steps. Maybe I’d forgotten to close that compartment and my wallet had fallen out. Maybe some honest person would find it and return it to me. After all, I thought, such things happen. I’ve had lost objects returned to me before—most recently my bus pass, by a very nice young man who was visiting here from the north. And I’ve had the privilege of returning some, too.
But I knew the truth. My bag had been completely closed only a few minutes before. Whoever the thief was, he was good. I hadn’t felt a thing.
Fortunately, there was only a very small amount of money in my wallet. Mostly, what I had to deal with now was not a nightmare but a headache: cancelling my credit cards, going to the police station to file a complaint, going to the offices of the Ministry of the Interior downtown to get a new ID card and so on. And, of course, buying a new wallet.
So far I have paid the various government offices several times the amount of money that the thief stole from me. Of course, my credit cards are of no use to him and could even get him into quite a bit of trouble if he is stupid enough to try to use them, since I cancelled them minutes after I discovered the theft.
The one who made out like a bandit here was my own government, not the thief.
Well, I guess that’s some consolation.