May 29, 2009

Free Lesson

It was a beautiful sunny day, she had just finished paying the phone bill at the post office so she had very little cash left in her wallet. Feeling less paranoid about getting robbed, a lightness filled her and put a twinkle in her step. All day she'd been worried and tense about getting pick pocketed while carrying 100 € in her backpack so she clutched her bag in front of her on every metro ride, up and down every escalator, walking along every street. But now that she'd paid her bill and her wallet was near empty, her relief translated into a carefree saunter through the streets of Embajadores to Lavapies. It was, after all, a beautiful sunny day. People were wandering the streets, couples were laughing, children were playing, girls were licking ice cream cones. She mindfully focussed her attention on what she was seeing as Cuban salsa from her ipod filled in the scene with a spicy soundtrack. La la la, que bonita. She paused to see the debris left by the demolition of a building on Calle Valencia near the plaza and she thought about the dress she didn't buy (because she was being stingy) in the boutique that was now only rubble. She made note to not be so frugal next time and just buy "that cute dress" when she had the opportunity because they may tear down the shop without her knowing and then she'll never get the chance wear "that cute dress". All these thoughts were idly running though her monkey mind and she was happy to be so at ease, slowly strolling instead of rushing around as usual. She continued her paseo along Plaza Lavapies, past the eyes of the young bald man at the table promoting the Indian Film Festival when she happened to catch her reflection in a store window and noticed her backpack was completely unzipped. Panicked, she quickly pulled the bag in front of her to look for her wallet. It was still there, buried under her books - one of her added security measures. Shame rushed to her face. She had let down her vigilant guard to enjoy the moment and thieves were quick to take advantage of it. She felt a fool, unzipped, her contents flapping in the wind, exposed for all the barrio to see. She was a flat. She hadn't even noticed the nimble fingers behind her, unzipping her, as she naively basked, distracted by the sweet moments of street life. While it felt momentarily blissful to be so naively unaware of danger, the lesson she learned for free is this: NEVER EVER let your guard down for the thieves own the streets and you are mere prey waiting to be picked. Enjoy the street life and sun but always keep your eyes on your valuables. These are hard financial times and thieves are even harder up than you.


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