Friday, February 17

Birthday Boy

Well, OK, birthday Man but I like to be coy about my age, and who doesn't as they reach my years. Strange things, birthdays. Like Time, they weight heavily on those who have least of it or least left of them. It's today (Thursday) but as I approached midnight on Wednesday, another year in The Village just ending as the struggle continues, I was out. Not on the town you'll understand (there isn't one here) so lets describe it as on the 'long road that starts at the olive press and ends at the periptero' (doesn't quite roll off the tongue, I know) with some friends, drinking wine. Actually, drinking litres of the stuff. With my wallet on me. Only it's not just a wallet, its a portifoli holding the contents of my life within it; Passport, UK driving license, insurance papers, citizenship, bank cards and bank book, and - unusually for me - some €2,000 in cash. And as I got home to bed I realised I had lost it. Somewhere. So spent the next 3 hours retracing my steps from the streets I walked to the cafenio's we visited to the periptero, the toilets, the cemetry (yes, what's wrong with visiting a cemetry?) and scouring the interior of the car.
Without any success, I resigned myself to the inevitable loss and consequences, and so to bed, but not before calling the UK to cancel my passport and emailing for a new driving license. Welcome to the 1st day of a new birthday year.
This morning, bright and early (the day) and dreary, red eyed and early (me) I stood in queues in the big Bank awaiting my turn at the cashier counter to lock my accounts from anyone who may be trying to part me from my cash. New cards, pass book and access again to my money would take a few more days as I borrowed some euro from a friend to fill some petrol in the car for the journey home. To find a policeman at my door. (Oh Oh). Who greeted me with my full name (Double Oh Oh) and who started to question me about who, what, and why I am, doing, and for what, in Greece. As I searched my conscience for some wrong deed (was it, I thought, the 11 very old roof tiles I found roadside last week - worth €1.50 in total - that I purloined for my very old roofed - house?) I began to envision the inside of a Greek jail. Worse, the embarrassment of a Greek jail for €1.50 of discarded roof tiles.
And then he produced my portifoli. Intact of all papers. Intact of all bank cards and passbooks. Short about €500 in cash. Someone had found it, in the middle of the night, dropped by the roadside; Had opened it, found some papers that gave the name of The Village; Had called his cousin from The Village to ask if he knew of me; Had tracked me down, then handed everything to the police, who were now at my door.
So, today, €500 lighter in pocket, I feel far better off, and truly fortunate, and genuinely thankful for the honesty of man, than I did yesterday whilst walking around with €2,000 in cash in wallet getting somewhat drunk with friends. There's a message in there somewhere. There's a morale in there, too. Tonight, I've just returned from returning 11 roof tiles to the roadside where I 'found' them last week. And the puzzle? What sort of person would find my wallet, open it and see all the money, and take just €500 before replacing it where I had dropped it?

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