The Kindness of Strangers

Agent L has never been able to keep track of things like keys and wallets and the pearls her beloved granddad gave her before he got sick and later died, and so she’s learned not to become too attached to things. Things, in her experience, come and go. One wallet is as good as another. It only takes two weeks to get a new debit card, a few hours to get a new drivers license. It really is the thought that counts when giving gifts. So long as someone, somewhere, has a copy of your keys, or you have a window with a bum latch, losing your keys ain’t no thing.

I was just congratulating myself the other day on the fact that I’ve managed to keep track of my wallet for so long. I bought it from Nordstrom Rack when Jackie took me out for a farewell Cheesecake Factory lunch in Towson before I left, and it was nice- 9 West, purple leather, plenty of space for stuff. I don’t keep much of value in a wallet either; having spent my 20’s going to dirty clubs in shady parts of town to watch boys on questionable drugs play punk rock, I learned early to keep my money and anything else I didn’t want going walkabout in my bra, and God, in his infinite wisdom, endowed me, if not with good sense, then with a just ample enough chest to camaflouge i.d., credit cards, a few twenties, lipstick, and a minimal set of keys. As soon as the thought entered my head, about being proud of not losing my wallet, I went, uh-oh. Well, there goes a good run.

Sure enough it took not two weeks to be gently mugged on my way home one night.

Remember how I was complaining about tekels closing at ten a few weeks ago? One of my major concerns as a single lady is that tekels are so prevalent, and the men who run tekels generally so kind, aware, ready to form relationships, and Pat Murphy-ish, that they make the streets safer. At any given point on my rather limited trajectory through town, I know where the nearest tekel is, and if I’m walking home after hours, I know exactly where to run to find safe haven should anything go wrong. With tekels closed, that safety net is gone. A month before the tekel law passed, an American couple was attacked on my old quiet and residential street. I can only imagine these things’ll be more prevalent with the tekels closed.

Oh, but back to the mugging.

Again, coming from Baltimore, I was so unimpressed I barely noticed I’d been mugged till later. A group of rowdy young fellas came up to me on a quiet street with no one much around, and harrassed me a bit, and I go through this song and dance every spring so I beat em off, but not before one grabbed my bag and lifted my wallet. Is there a word that’s somewhere between mugging and pickpocketing? What is the difference anyway? Maybe I wasn’t mugged because there was no weapon, no explicit threat of violence, aside from the learing, wearying threat of sexual violence that I’ve become so used to here. Does that count or was I just harrassed and pickpocketed? I can’t be bothered at this point. Anyway- wallet gone. Soft mugging or hard pickpocketing, take your pick.

The only things that were particularly bothersome that were lost were the debit card, American and such a pain to replace, and the scoresheet for a game of Gin Rummy 10,000 I’d started with Phil before I left. It took us months to get to a score of 6000-something to 4000-something. Now we’ll never finish that game, ever. About the debit card I was prosaic. There was something like seven dollars left on it. As far as I was concerned, any enterprising thief was welcome to that if they could get their hands on it, so I figured I’d wait two weeks to cancel it, cause things have a way of finding their way back to you, sometimes. Remind me to tell you sometime about the great keys-loose baseboard miracle of 2004. Enjoy your lunch, fellas, or perhaps a bottle of Cumartesi table wine.

On day 13 I woke to find something like 47 facebook messages. My debit card had been found, and I’d gone viral. (While many of you may never know my name, an interesting fact is that the only other person I’ve ever found who shared it died in Ohio in 1832. I’m pretty easy to track down.)

It took me a few days to get my shit together and travel to the bookstore that had reported it and spread the word through all the ex-pat channels. I was under the impression that they had it, but no, they just had the customer’s phone number, and Missy, the woman who found the card, just took my information and offered to be in touch. I’m so spoiled in my central-Kadikoy, walking to work, never go anywhere bubble that I was inordinately annoyed at having to take a minibus 10 km for nothing.

Within two days I’d retrieved my card from Missy, a lovely Christian lady from outside of Asheville. I may never know her, but she blessed me as I left, and I’m eternally grateful.

There were no charges that I couldn’t account for.

Now, if anywone finds a two page score sheet, please do let me know.


Perhaps this week I’ll go wallet shopping, or bra shopping. One or the other.




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5 Responses to The Kindness of Strangers

  1. Kelly S. says:

    Ha ha! I love how you wrote about God in his infinite wisdom and endowing you with your chest. You wrote a post a while back where you talked about less “rapier” places and I laughed out loud. But then I felt bad because rape is serious, but the word “rapier” just cracked me up. Some friends and I are planning a trip to Istanbul as a just girls trip. Any advice?

    • agentlabroad says:

      Thanks, babe! And I’m so excited you’re coming! You’ll have to let me know when so I can meet y’all for a drink. My advice is pretty simple- stick to neighborhoods you know to be safe. Men will leer and try to talk to you- don’t engage. Don’t trust strange men who are really helpful, unless they are working in a tekel or store or in a legitimate tourist outfit or are over the age of 70 or, as happens sometimes, all three. Watch your wallet. But people are generally awesome and helpful, so have fun, just keep your eyes open and don’t take any shit.

  2. JGibbs says:

    Thanks for the plug Agent L-It helps.

  3. Jackie says:

    Sorry to hear about the pickpocketing and harassment from those “fellas”. (Do their parents teach them nothing?) Remind me to take you to the Rack for another wallet next time you’re here. And the Cheesecake Factory for …. you know…. calories.

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