Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Optimism Restored

So it's Tuesday morning, and I had an appointment with the French nationale police department.
Not really an appointment, but if you read my previous post, you know that the officer told me to come back Tuesday to make a report about my stolen wallet.
I threw my leg over my bike and coasted the couple of miles to the station. I knew this time to push on the outer door. Let it close completely before pulling on the inner door that doesn't have a handle. I felt like a regular.
I walked to the desk where the young, blue-eyed officer was no longer ensconced. Instead, a middle-aged police officer spoke to me in French and I told him about my stolen wallet. I handed over my passport and he wrote down a few before pointing to the seats and saying his one English word: "Sitting."
So I sat.
One woman sat in a chair. One man stood impatiently across the room, other than that, everyone worked there. I figured it wouldn't be a very long wait.
I pulled up a book on my phone's Kindle app and started reading, looking up occasionally as someone moved through the waiting area, stopping to exchange cheek kisses with the officer behind the counter. I tried to picture two, male American police officers sharing kisses but just couldn't get there.
I went back to my book and didn't even look up until the second time they called the name. A name that we give a hard I but they give an eee sound.
"Oh, that's me!" I stood and slid my phone into the pouch I now carry in place of my purse.
In my halting French, I explained that I wanted to make a report in case anyone found my wallet with my driver's license and other store cards, which I explained in French as "carte des fidelities" loyalty cards. Who knows if I got that right. I did say "carte de conduire" when I should have said "permis de conduire."
I had just realized yesterday when talking with my parents that without my driver's license, I wouldn't be able to pick up the rental car I had scheduled for Thursday. So I would probably need to reschedule the rental car in Earl's name, since they were very strict about only allowing the person who rented the car to drive, unless we were willing to pay an extra 10 Euros per day. And either way, I would need a driver's license, not just the copy I had.
The officer asked what was missing and I told him credit cards, driver's license and cash were the main things. He placed a call and made noises that gave me hope. When he hung up, he said that it had been turned into the "objets trouvés," found objects
When I posted about my stolen wallet, one of my young friends who spent a semester abroad commented that her wallet had turned up at the mayor's office in the" objets trouvés," so a shout out to Alyse for the head's up. I knew what the officer was talking about.
But in Aix, the "objets trouvés" is located at the municipal police office. When continued with the report after the officer said that my driver's license and credit cards were in the wallet.
He typed up the report then went over it with me and printed out three copies. We both signed all three front and back. Then he helped me see on the map where to find the municipal police station.
I bicycled there, spending five minutes trying to figure out how to lock my bike into the metal stand, because I didn't want to face the irony of having my bike stolen while in the police station, even though an officer stood outside. I figured he might just be on a break.
When I walked inside, as a man asked how he could help me, the woman sitting next to him said, "Oh, you're here about the wallet" but she said it in French and I smiled.
I gave the man my passport and he pulled out my wallet.
"Take your time looking through to feel reassured that everything is there," he said several times, but in French.
My wallet returned to its rightful owner -
And I did. My credit cards, my health insurance card, my work ID and most importantly, my driver's license.
The only thing missing was my cash. And I had cash in Euros, American dollars, and British pounds. Not much in dollars or pounds though.
The Metro tickets I'd had left over from our last trip to Paris were gone, too, but I wasn't about to complain.
The local police officer pointed to my driver's license and asked what it was. I knew now to say "permis de conduire." And his eyebrows shot up. He said he hadn't recognized it and I explained it was from the United States, the state of Ohio.
Then he went back to explaining something in French too quick for me to understand. I let him know I didn't understand and he asked when I had been at the Police Nationale. I said just before I had made my complaint.
He advised me to return there now because I had reported my ID missing and if I was stopped, the police would think I was using the stolen ID.
The male and female officer had a brief discussion about whether I needed to return or not. I pulled out the report and showed the officer that the report indicated my ID had been found. So we agreed that I didn't have to return to the other police officer.
Phew. I dodged a bit of red tape.
I tucked the wallet in the backpack I'd brought along so I could pick up breakfast at the bakery on my way home.
Riding along the tree lined street, I paused briefly in the square where my wallet had been taken. Somewhere the thief could be watching me. He might recognize me, but I would never recognize him.
But somewhere else in the city, was a man or woman who had found my wallet and turned it in so I could have some of my belongings back. The yin and yang, the good and the bad, in every city, in every country.
I would not let one person ruin my trust in humanity.


Anonymous said...

Hurray! So many headaches avoided!
The thief probably dropped the wallet after removing the cash. Some good soul picked it up and turned it in.
It sounds as if you navigated the law-enforcement bureaucracy very well in French. It isn't easy to manage in a foreign language, and it's worse when the situation is stressful. Bravo!

sillygirl said...

Look at you - handling this whole thing in a foreign country in a foreign language! I am very impressed with how you are expanding your comfort zone! I am a sensitive person also so I know what an accomplishment this is - some people I know could just breeze through problems without anxiety - not us. So bravo for pushing through - and keep writing - love hearing about the bumps in the road.

Jennie said...

A miracle, I say, a miracle! Such a happy ending! Keep that wallet close to your body in a zipper closed bag. One stolen wallet in a lifetime is enough! Keep enjoying France. I will be in Paris the whole month of October. My second home.

Jennie from San Francisco (via Ohio)

Philippe said...

Bonjour Paulita ! Vous êtes devenu fluente en français en comprenant toute les explications des policiers ! j' admire votre force de caractère qui vous a permis de retrouver votre sac à main.Comme j' aime à le dire et à le penser c' est le peuple américain à son meilleur ! Ces aléas sont inévitables n' importe oû mais ils vous aideront à apprécier la " vraie " vie en France.Si et quand vous vivrez dans votre maison avec des voisins pour discuter, vous vous sentirez vraiment chez vous " comme à la maison "// Hello Paulita! You are becoming fluent in french as you understood all the police's explanations! I admire your strength of character which allowed you to find your purse. As I like to say and think that's it the People of USA at its best! These ups and downs are inevitables anywhere but they' ll help you to enjoy " real" french live even more.If and when you'll live in your house with neighbours to talk with, you will feel truely at home.I like to think so as I want so much you stay with us for a long time.

Jeanie said...

A pain in the neck, the event - but OH! It could have been so much worse! I would call this one a mini-miracle! make sure you have a zipper bag, hold it close and live your wonderful new life!

Sim Carter said...

Crying here in California. Glad your faith in humanity has been restored!

Just Me said...

Cheers Paulita !

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