“It’s really a wonder that I haven’t dropped all my ideals, because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet I keep them, because in spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.”
Anne Frank The Diary of a Young Girl
Ok, adding yet again to the backlog of blog posts I have yet to write (Brasov, boboceli, and cumnatria) I had an interesting experience today that I have to relay.
After work I needed to go to the piata (the market) to get a 20 kilo bag of potatoes for my host mom. This is exactly the kind of task I enjoy because a) it lets me show off my relatively good buying potatoes skills, and b) carrying heavy things, at which I excel. I arrived at 1 o’clock, just as the stands were closing down, but I found a new lady selling vegetables, in a stall where a guy usually sells used power cords. I executed my transaction flawlessly, and threw in a request for a half kilo of mushrooms, as they are not available often and I know how to say “mushroom, please” in Romanian. Here is where the confusion sets in. I was wearing gloves, had one hand full of my super-awesome work related briefcase, lets see, I also had brought my own bag for the mushrooms, and needed to fish in my front pocket for my wallet.
So the end result is, hours later, at home, and after a pretty heavy snow, my wallet was not where it lives. For those of you who know me, I am what is politely called “regimented” in certain aspects of my life. For example, If I am going to be 5 minutes late for work, my whole day is shot. That sounds crazy and I know it is, but if things aren’t a certain way, I’m in a dither. Suffice it to say my wallet is in my front pocket, always.
After turning my house upside down, searching my pants pockets over and over again, and contemplating going through the trash cans in the park at night, in the snow. I realized the best approach would be to start where I had last seen it, namely potato lady.
In my wallet was about a hundred dollars in Moldovan Lei, my residency card, and a twenty dollar bill for old times sake. Needless to say, that is more money than anyone in my town sees in a month. The loss of the money would have put me in a bind, and the card could be replaced, what was killing me was that (if) someone had picked up my wallet and taken the money, they would definitely know it was mine (as the only man in town with glasses and apparently I dress like a weirdo to them) and had knowingly kept it. So that is where my thinking was at 3 o’clock this morning.
After practicing how to say “wallet” in Russian, I went to the potato store. Before I even got in the store, the lady ran out, smiling and holding my wallet! She said I had left it and she didn’t know my telephone number, and that she was afraid I lived in Chisinau. (Which is a polite way of saying I speak very poorly.) She opened my wallet and carefully counted all the money, my ID card, and even a 1 leu bill wedged in the bottom I didn’t know was there. She was so proud to help me, I was humbled mightily that I had spend a sleepless night doubting the honesty of everyone in town, and to be shown that I was spectacularly wrong.
My faith in humanity restored, I insisted she take 400 lei as a reward. I hope I have learned several lessons from this, the greatest of which is that people are often amazing. Just when I am prepared for the worst, I encounter a ray of sunshine and I know everything will be just fine.
(Pretend this is a picture of me and a smiling lady at a piata booth. I’m embarrassed I only know her as “potato lady”)