Stealing to give back

I have an urge to steal from all of my friends in The Perpignan Project, hide their items and then, once they are sufficiently frightened, return them.

That is the only way I can simulate the feeling I had when I lost my wallet with all of my most important possessions and then reclaimed it a day later.

I had been emptying my bank account at a retail store during the nationwide retail sales in Perpignan, France when I realized that my purse felt a little lighter. My wallet was gone.

The first question I had was where the nearest Western Union was.  Then, there were the crazed scenarios of where I imagined my credit cards to be: in the hands of an identity thief, on a plane with the thief making his or her way to Las Vegas on my tab or on a playground somewhere being used as a house of cards.

After a night of horrible dreams of a bank account that was thousands of American dollars in the red, I went to Mango, the last store I used my credit cards in. When I walked in, I had my handy-dandy French phrasebook dog-tagged on the page with the phrase: “I lost my …” I struggled a bit with pronunciation but through frantically pointing at objects in the store, I was able to get the nice saleswoman to understand what I had lost.

She just said “Oui.” That was all I needed to break down in the middle of the fancy clothing store and completely embarrass myself in appreciation for the workers who did not go on a shopping spree with my debit card. I did a bit of bowing.

I have never kissed an inanimate object as much as I did that silver and black wallet. I could not believe that everything was in tact. Not a  single euro was missing. In Los Angeles, this would not have happened. I assumed that if I had left it at a retail store, I would find my empty wallet sprawled on the streets later that day. Then I remembered the kind people I have met in Perpignan, not one of whom would have stolen a euro from my clutch.

The people here have been so giving, kind and helpful that I wanted to steal something small from all of them just to hand it back and allow them to feel an ounce of the happiness I experienced in Perpignan that day.