Monday, October 15, 2007

Call me Pollyanna...

I often get poo-pooed by both colleagues and peers for my optimistic attitude to life. I'm the one who thinks that, actually, yoof today is a darn sight more aware than I ever was as a teenager. I'm the one who believes that couples have much more successful relationships than they used to because people are now much more emotionally literate. I'm the one who holds that society is not actually going to the dogs but is slowly but surely becoming more evolved, intelligent and compassionate. A hundred years ago I and many other women like me would have been imprisoned in the home - that is if we weren't dead in childbirth. I count my blessings on a daily basis.

But when, over the weekend, I found that my bag had been stolen - complete with mobile phone,driving licence and credit card - my optimism was sorely tested. I was in Barcelona. I don't speak Spanish. And though I had followed all the advice about hanging on to my bag and keeping it in sight, it took just one distraction and it was gone from underneath the restaurant chair. Silly me.

But once again human nature, seemingly proven by the theft to be dishonest and nasty, stepped up positively to the plate. The Spaniards at the next table, who spoke no English, nevertheless saw my distress; then summoned the waiter and on my behalf demanded assistance. He sympathised, instigated a search, then when it proved fruitless, talked me through directions to the police station.

The police, who would have been totally justified in casting their eyes up to heaven and blaming the stupid foreign tourist, were patience itself - they had even installed a freephone directly connecting me to my credit card provider so that I could - even before filling in the police forms - cancel my card. The provider, in turn, calmly and coolly took action, offered to send me replacement card and cash, and equally uttered not a word of reproach.

Then there were the folk in the waiting room. We all huddled together sympathising, and when they heard that my companion and I had come to Barcelona to dance tango, they insisted on a demonstration. Applause all round, including from the police, who quickly and speedily processed my denuncio and sent me on my way.

Yes, it was horrid to be the target of pickpockets. Yes I could kick myself for falling for it. (And yes, I do know that much worse things happen to folk every day of the year, many times over - and that as a solvent, educated assertive woman I am wellplaced to cope with what was actually, something very trivial.)

But once again, what I am mainly left with is optimism - triggered by the little things done by ordinary people, who responded positively and supportively where they could have turned a blind eye, shrugged their shoulders, and roundly blamed...

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