The Ethical Thief

SPOILER ALERT: This tale has a happy ending (I only say this to keep my parents from having a heart attack when they read this).

It started with The Hunger Games. I found some English copies of the trilogy in my room that the student before me had left here. Once I picked up the first one, I couldn’t set it down. They’re quick reads, fast-paced and simply written, so you can really fly through them. And the plot is so engrossing, once you start you can’t stop.

I was a little over halfway through the second book (when they announce what this year’s Quarter Quell is going to bring?) and on my way to a friend’s house, a good 40 minute train ride. I didn’t even bother putting the book in my bag or letting it leave my hand, every time I sat down–on the train or at a station waiting for one–the book went back up in front of my face and I was lost to the world.

After almost missing my stop (for the second time as it were, since I had transferred once), I was just about to get off at my final destination when I realized my purse was gone. I did a quick sweep of the car. No sign of it. With a growing feeling of dread, I realized I must have left it on the Ring Bahn, one of the most heavily used routes in Berlin. Or worse, at the station at Heidelberger Platz where I transferred…

Panic started to set in. All in all, the important things included: Passport (which I preferred using for ID over my driver’s license because my picture looks better), driver’s license, debit card, student ID, semester public transport ticket, checkbook/bank account number, and some items of personal value, including prescription medication and chapstick.

I cancelled the credit card right away when I got to my friend’s house and debated going back to the station and retracing my route, but the idea of going around and around the public transport of Berlin by myself on a Thursday night couldn’t even appeal to my panicked brain. The next morning I reported my purse to the Deutsche Bahn lost and found.

In addition to the worrysome personal identification documents that were missing, it was also just annoying not having my purse. For instance, I realized since my Semesterticket was gone, I’d have to buy a day pass for the train. “No big deal, I’ve got some spare change for the train,” I thought, until I realized, all my spare change was in my purse. My friend had to loan me some money to buy a day pass.

When I checked my email to confirm the DB had gotten my request, I couldn’t believe my eyes. There, at the top of my inbox, dated 11:30 yesterday night, was an email from an unknown address with the subject line “Tasche gefunden” (purse found.) A few short hours later, this kid shows up at my door with my purse in his hands! I thanked him graciously and gave him a 20-euro “Finderlohn” (finder’s fee) as thanks. I would have probably had to pay more than that at the American Embassy to replace my passport abroad. Hopefully my gratitude and the money will encourage him to continue to be honest in the future!

A quick rifle through my purse showed that it had definitely been gone through–stuff was in the wrong pockets and some cards had been stuck back into my wallet the wrong way. But, to my amazement, the only thing missing was cash, which I estimated to be less than 50 euro. They had actually separated my student ID and train card from the cash and put it back into my purse. They also left my credit card, now-cash-free wallet, driver’s license, passport, and everything else I was worried about. What luck! They can keep the 50 euro for as far as I’m concerned. I’m just grateful that they left the important stuff.

And yes, mom and dad, I’ve learned my lesson about reading on the train!

The other moral of the story is, it’s NEVER worth freaking out about anything. Cash comes and goes and can easily be replaced. Credit cards and identification, well, those are a little harder to replace, but it can be done. The sleep I lost over worrying about it, and the loss of what was supposed to be a chill, relaxed evening with a friend, however, are priceless. Sure, losing something like that is a big deal, but stressing out doesn’t help the situation, it only makes you feel worse. Will have to remember this for the future.


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