There Are No Thieves In Greece

“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark. The real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.” Plato

My husband’s wallet was stolen a few weeks ago as we stood on a crowded subway in downtown Athens. Within the span of two stops, the wallet was gone, along with something else I didn’t notice right away.

We contacted our bank, the embassy and the local police. At the police station, we met a French woman who was waiting to report another theft. She’d been riding on a bus. She’d lost all her identification and money.

I remembered several years ago a friend of mine had reported her missing wallet to the Greek police. When she used the word, stolen, the officer corrected her, saying, “Madame, there are no thieves in Greece.” And in fact, she had left her wallet on a park bench. A citizen had returned it to the police station intact.

The police officers we dealt with in my husband’s case only nodded and helped us fill out the reports they required. They seemed to know something I refused to accept or acknowledge.

We had been in front of a bank machine about to make a withdrawal when my husband noticed his wallet missing. We went back to our apartment, searched every jacket and pant pocket, the folds of the couch, under beds and in any corner my husband might have dropped his wallet.

I personally went through the apartment at least three times.

Then, we retraced our steps that day. We returned to the coffee shop we’d been in, checked the forested area around the park bench where we sat, asked the subway information desk if someone had returned a wallet. The officials looked at me as though my brain had been idling in the sun far too long.

I was sure the wallet was somewhere, it had fallen out of a pocket, been forgotten somewhere. A Samaritan would find it and return it to us.

There are no thieves in Greece.

Except when we finally admitted it was gone and we called the bank, we were told that someone had tried unsuccessfully to use my husband’s visa to make a cash withdrawal.

My husband took all this in stride. I tend to do the same thing, go through the motions of whatever it is I have to do. But, even with the latest bit of information from the visa people, I continued my search for the wallet, again looking behind and between the cracks of the couch, checking pockets, closets, and bags.

There had to be some mistake. There are no thieves in Greece.

I started to carry my bag tighter to my body, became more aware of the people around me particularly in crowded places, stood closer to both the men in my life (my father and my husband) when we were on the subway.

My husband’s identification and cards will all be reissued. Everything will be replaced except for the one thing I lost that day.

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