October 17, 2009


I ran off to London on Thursday and stayed 24 hours. I visited such lovely people: Amy, Jeremy and Liam Keele - Amy and Liam are featured below, but they have grown since this photo was taken in 2007 (and Jeremy is not even featured). They live in Hamstead Heath in London and the Heath is a mystery wilderness land, just out their backyard...people swim in the ponds there year round. Amy and Jeremy are beautiful, inside and out, and Liam mirrors them.

Their neighborhood is just the place to live in London. It is peaceful and so livable - the rows of houses with their brick and columns. Parliament hill is just a walk away where the best view of London sits.

Other things in the neighborhood I loved:

The fruit and vegetable vendor - the colors and shapes made me think of autumn.

A real live milk truck, which was still delivering milk door to door.

And then further on in town - around Chelsea, I saw him, sitting there like this and thought he might be a figment of my imagination, he was such a British thumbprint.

And then, dramatically and suddenly, my wallet was gone. One minute I had it, the next minute - poof - it had vacated my bag. I think it wanted a little adventure of its own and adventure it had. I was about to pay for the nice haircut I had just had. At the counter - searching through my bag. To the bench, searching, pulling everything out, turning the bag inside out. My hair, which seconds before had been perfectly coiffed, was expeditiously in disarray. The wallet was gone, long gone. Terrifying feeling - to be stranded like that. I had not a penny, no cards, no means of even getting on the tube. Plus, my precious Carte de Séjour and my driver's license were in it, and many library cards and my French health insurance card.

I started crying. The nice haristylists surrounding me (up to six of them) all told me not to cry and each dug in their pockets to pull out a few pounds to donate to my cause. They were really kind. I called Xavier too, and being the ultra-efficient boy that he is, my cards were cancelled in minutes. Then I walked out the door of the salon, with my donated pounds and instructions to get to a police station to file a report. What a waste of time this will be, I thought to myself as I struggled to find the closest police station. Once there, I sat on a creaky wooden bench waiting for the tubby officer to buzz me in to her contained box. Finally she pressed the button and I pushed open the door and told her without any hope of recovery about my wallet. "What were you doing with your bag open like that?" and "You've got to take care of yourself and your things." "Well, don't expect much. I doubt anything will come in."

I sulked back out into the streets and found my way to Amy and Jeremy's house. Then the stunner. Not ten minutes after I had walked out the door, someone walked in and presented my wallet, with everything intact, to the police officer. The tubby one called Amy's cell phone and left the good news. When I heard, I was ecstatic. I was also sort of dumbfounded. London - that massive city - was apparently full of goodhearted humans.

The next day I went back to the station and there was my wallet and all of its contents dumped out into what looked like an evidence bag. Not one scrap of paper missing. And the good woman who found it and turned it in had left her name and address on the report. She is Amra Hodzic - I think she must be Bosnian. I intend to send her something right away, but what? What would say thank you appropriately? I guess just thank you. Oh man am I grateful. As my brother Paul would say, what a woman.

You know the bit about generosity and how it spreads, how it 'catches.' Well, I know the next time I find anything of anyone's, I will take the time to go turn it in, knowing just how much the act meant to me. I think it works that way with courtesy or anything else too - it is cyclical. If someone is courteous and kind, you are more likely to respond in turn. Thank you Amra Hodzic, I'll be more generous thanks to you.

And then I came back to Paris almost as quickly as I had left and was glad to see that the Seine had turned a lovely shade of violet.


Diogenes said...

Wow - you were lucky. Nothing scarier than being in another country with no money or credit cards! So nice of the people in th salon to pitch in!

Gina said...

I'd send her some CBS caramels from L'Etoile d'Or, but that's just because I think they're a little slice of heaven.

rachel said...

Wow, that is quite the story! I'm glad you got it back!
your cousin, Rachel

Julie said...

I love that story Emilie - I've only lost my wallet three times in the past 6 months but never in as extreme circumstances. Glad you got it back

Rosie said...

You must have a guardian angel! Glad you made it home with your wallet! Looks like a fun visit. XOXO

Shelli said...

Emilie, how great that you got it back! How lost you must have felt. But it's not an isolated story, this tale of people doing good.

My husband lost his wallet shortly before we came to Paris and canceling and replacing everything in the time left would have been impossible. When he got home there was a phone message saying someone had found it, BUT NOT LEAVING A NUMBER! He sat by the phone for hours until the nice man finally called back. All was intact. What a relief.

As to what to give her; my husband got the man's address and sent a check. If she doesn't want it she can give it to a charity.


fashion survivor said...

I've always heard it is customary to offer a reward of 10 percent of whatever is in the wallet--or maybe she would prefer some macarons from Pierre Herme!

Emilie said...

merci! great ideas all.

D1Warbler said...

I lost my wallet in Amsterdam, 43 years ago. We had been shopping and I hadn't noticed it was gone until after all the shops were closed. I gave it up for lost and was very sad because I had carried an irreplaceable trinket in it which (my now husband, Jim, had given me before I left. (We were just dating then.)

Several weeks after our return home, a package came from one of the stores we had been shopping in. In it was my wallet -- totally intact -- money and trinket included. The store owner had only removed the amount of the postage from my coins.

Such moments restore your faith in humanity.

I'm glad you had that kind of experience, too.

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