Last Friday I had my wallet stolen from within my handbag, within my office. I went to work with my wallet, and at 6:30 p.m. when I wanted to put money in it, I noticed it was missing. “I must have forgotten it home”, I thought. I went home, and after a thorough search operation that would make the best CSI look amateur I decided that yes, I had indeed been robbed, and it had been within the clinic. Panic stroke me immediately. I called operators to cancel my credit cards. When I was on the phone in the middle of canceling my checks too, my doorbell rang. Through the intercom, a man said “Hi! Are you Olivia? I’m the doorman of a building at Andradas Street and I need to talk to you, is that OK?” I was like “Hmm… Ok”. First lesson of Brazil survival guide: you do not, ever, open the door of your building at night for a strange man. Specially if you are a woman alone. So I knocked at my neighbour’s door, explained the situation and he accompanied me. Down at the door was this fat man in his early 60′s, holding a paper in his hand. He said “Hi! Is this yours? I found it sitting on a bench on the 4th floor of the building I work at.” I took the paper from his hand: it was my vaccination card. It had my address in it. I said “Yes, that’s mine, you happened to find my wallet by any chance?” He said “I found this and a pile of documents. I didn’t bring the documents with me because I wans’t sure I was going to find this street, as I didn’t know where it was, and I didn’t want to keep walking at night with a bunch of documents loose in my hand, risking to lose them. Would you go with me to where I work to get the rest of the documents?” Lesson number two of Brazil’s survival guide: suspect everyone, trust no one, looks can be deceiving, nice people can be bad. What if that man took me to some shady place and kidnapped me, raped me, or something like that? My neighbor and I exchanged looks and agreed to go with him. We went walking. Arriving at the building he worked there were people there who greeted him happily, then we knew he was really the doorman and not some conman or worse. He showed me where he found my documents and finally gave me my documents back. Lucky me, everything was there: my bank and credit cards, checks, fidelity cards of many stores, identity documents, medical license, driver’s license, photographs, bank extracts and even a Moleskine I carry with me. The only thing missing was actually my wallet. I concluded that I was robbed by a female patient of the clinic who must have entered the office and stolen it when I left for the restroom or to grab a prescription pad at the clinic’s reception. Why a female? Because my wallet was a feminine wallet, a very expensive designer’s feminine wallet, just the kind of expensive mime that you know it’s many women’s consumer’s dream.
I learned the lessons. One: do not buy fancy wallets. Two: There are good people in Brazil. I was as happy to find an honest person who gave me back my things without trying to con me, kidnap me or charge me for it. Just like there are bad people here, as the woman who stole from me, there are indeed very good people here. Altough the man didn’t ask for anything, next week I will get him a present (I’m still thinking): in Brazil crime pays, so why shouldn’t honesty pay too?