It’s hot and I can’t feel the light breeze that plays with his long thin hair and braided beard as I announce that my wallet has gone missing. No matter how many zippers I unzip I cannot find my minimal turquoise card holder. A chattering enters my entire body ending in my legs. I can feel them shaking beneath me as this new reality hits. What I had feared had come true. My Green Card, credit cards, punch card only one punch away from $10 off my next pedicure and my license are gone. I cannot fathom how it happened. I had not left the tiny square I was standing in. Did a clever hand reach in and take it while I was distracted? Did it tumble out and fall to the ground? “ My Green Card was in there” I say several times. I am supposed to board a plane that night to Italy, and then home to California.
The Croatian vendor, Victoria and I begin to look on and under the wooden tables laden with metal and leather goods. We search the smooth ancient stones beneath our feet. Next to us the vestiges of three thousand year old Roman ruins stand short and crumbled. I can see the concern in his blue eyes and furrowed brow and yet I cannot help thinking that somehow he is in on it. Suspicion and mistrust circle inside of me. Shock and worry register on the faces of my friends who came to see what was taking us so long. The four of us split up to search for my “stolen wallet” that may have been discarded in a garbage can. - Just the other week I had seen a man search through garbage, only he was looking for aluminum cans.
Tears threaten behind my sunglasses. The day has taken an unpredictable turn. I must deal with this so I can fly home to my family. In a calm and reassuring way my friends begin to guide me somewhere we can regroup. I was not alone. They were willing to spend their day helping me and I noticed and felt that. We all stand together in a circle. I am cancelling credit cards and bank cards. Someone is getting directions to the police station. As if in a film with background music, I will always remember what takes place next.
A man is walking purposely towards us asking “Is this you?!”. A turquoise square is in his hand. Disbelief and relief flood through me as he pulls out my drivers license, my green card, my credit cards while walking towards us. “It is all here!” he exclaims. Fifteen American dollars folded up among my punch card, costco card and expired coupons. What had been set in motion had suddenly changed course again.
My friends and I cheer and offer to take him and his wife and daughter out for drinks (they decline). The family had found my wallet 20 meters from where we stood now and had been on their way to take it to the police station. They decided to turn around and look for me one more time. It remains a mystery how it got there. I cannot remember their faces or what they were wearing. I can only remember their kindness.
“People are good.” Victoria says.
We walk back to the Croatian vendor to tell him the news. He comes from behind his plastic covered stall to hug and congratulate me. As a gift he hands me a pamphlet for his craft. His name is Mario Sokolic. He looks like he is from Game of Thrones. I feel guilty for suspecting him.
Faith in humanity and my ability to travel uninterrupted are restored. We walk to find drinks and food. Pizza has never tasted so good.
Take nothing for granted I remind myself. Stop acting as if there is a linear course for this lifetime because predictability is an illusion. And help whoever, whenever and wherever you can.
Thank you for these lessons.
Thank you Cristina, Rina and Victoria for your loving support.
P.S. I would Love to hear about a time when a complete stranger went out of their way to help you!