The Noble Thief



Is a person counted as noble, or not, if they hand in a wallet they find…but after relieving it of its cash?

I’m glad to have my wallet back, with all its cards. It’s a hassle having to call places, cancel things, and wait for new things. The success of all that being dependant on remembering what was in the wallet in the first place.

Yes, I’m glad to have my wallet back.

But I remember there being $50 cash in there, too. I’m less glad about it being gone.

It’s rare for me to carry cash, at all—our electronic society deems it largely unnecessary—and this occasion has only reinforced why.

Carrying cash is a stupid idea, for anybody. And it’s a very stupid idea for mothers who get easily distracted by their kids in a library’s public loo—(okay Timmy there’s the toilet, no, toilet paper’s for after you’re done, Daniel leave the door alone we’re not ready, are you finished Timmy, why do you need to wash your hands Daniel, ok I’ll help, no no no stop no more soap, are you finished Timmy, remember to flush, Daniel wait wait wait, wash your hands Timmy, Daniel Daniel no)—and leave their wallet sitting on the toilet paper dispenser.

I know it’s only $50. In the grand scheme of things, its loss doesn’t ruin my life. But I just feel so invaded, knowing a stranger had deliberately opened the zipped compartment of my wallet and rifled through my things…which was entirely unnecessary, even if they’d been on an ethical owner-identifying mission. My owner information was already visible on a window-displayed card, outside it. They never had to unzip the compartment to inspect its contents.

I can see it all, in my mind. Nail-bitten fingers sliding open the metal teeth…filing through the treasures in its maw, card by card…then deftly lifting the cash notes out in a grimy pinch—two twenties and a ten, an enticing blend of blue and green—and pushing the cash into their jacket pocket to join a post-it and a paperclip. Then sashaying up to the issues desk to magnanimously hand over this wallet they found just now, and isn’t that nice of you to hand it in, and thank you it was nothing…

It sickens me to imagine the looter is probably thinking well of themselves for handing it in; thinking they’re a good and noble person, and how grateful I should be because of it. It makes me want to punch them in their lying magnanimous face.

In the car, I cried. A silly thing to cry about. But I cried anyway. And screamed through gritted teeth.

“Why you sad, Mummy?” the boys took turns asking from the back seat. They didn’t seem to make the mental link between theft and sadness. Life is simpler when you own nothing but naivety.

There’s a part of me that looks for the best of a bad situation. It’s a small part, but it’s there. I’m not a Pollyanna person by any stretch of the imagination—I like to think of this small part of me as more of a resourceful strategist. It’s a balm for my mental health, and makes it easier to answer the where-to-from-here questions. (It does however, tend to war with my critical realist side. The two just can’t get along.)

This part of me, for a moment, found it directly relevant to hear Nickelback singing, If Today was Your Last Day, when I turned the radio on.

I realise it’s traditional to ridicule Nickelback, but I don’t know why. I rather like them. At least, the songs I know. And hearing them today made me introspective. “If today was your last day… would you donate every dime you had…?” 

If today was my last day I’d have no need for $50, said Resourceful Strategist.

But, Critical Realist said, practicality makes up for what principle lacks, and odds are high that today isn’t my last day. It never has been, before.

Then I drove past a soft-toy dog, nose down on the footpath. It didn’t look like rubbish. It was in good nick. More likely it fell out of someone’s pram or bag without their noticing.

Resourceful Strategist found that directly relevant. I had no sentimental attachment to my $50. One $50 is much the same as another $50, really, said Resourceful Strategist.

But, Critical Realist said, I now don’t have any $50, and I’d intended to buy Husband’s Christmas present with that money.

It took me ages to save it, because the gift has to be bought with my own money. I can’t very well buy him a present with his own money, can I? As the breadwinner of this currently-single-income household, he funds everyone else’s presents, but his own gifts (the ones from me, anyway) come from my resources. Which are meagre.

Most of that $50 had been birthday gifts to me. (The givers had said to use it on what I liked. So if I liked to keep it for my Husband-gift fund, I figured this wasn’t a violation of instruction.) It would have covered what I’d planned to get him.

Now it won’t. Now there’s only 10 cents in my wallet. The thieving swine left me a 10 cent coin. How gracious of them.

Merry Christmas, Husband. Here’s six minutes of metered parking.


(2) Comments

  • Deborah Makarios
    28 Oct 2016

    Definitely not noble. A skunk and a louse, in fact.
    Someone found my wallet shortly before I got married and decided to keep the lot – so I had to rush around while in the throes of wedding preparation cancelling and replacing all my cards etc etc. What really galled me was that I found footage of the woman emptying my Snapper card at the shop she went to, I told the police, and they still did nothing.
    My suggestion for Christmas is that you tell your hubby his gift is having that rarest of all creatures: a wife who’ll turn her gifts into his gifts. You’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din.

    • Eve
      31 Oct 2016

      Wow, your wallet theft experience—and timing—sounds awful! My wallet disappeared out a pram pocket just before last Christmas, so I immediately cancelled cards and such…and about half an hour after cancelling the last one, I got a call from the local police station to say they had it. With all its cards. Which were now useless. (I’d had no cash in it to start with, that time.) Still, that’s a much lesser frustration than watching someone spend my money in such should-have-been damning footage!

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