KITCHEN SINK DRAMA
Idon’t normally put my purse in that handbag. The purse is a little unwieldy, the bag a shade too dinky, and its flimsy magnetic catch would scarcely trouble a toddler. But it’s my favourite bag – I don’t mean that in the traditional female way, incidentally; I mean that of the three handbags I have that don’t seem to have been specifically designed to carry a teaspoon to a do, it is the one I use most regularly. It’s the dinkiness, you see. Big enough for my Kindle, not big enough to climb into.
Usually, when I take it into town, I put some cash, two bank cards, whichever loyalty cards are likely to be pressed into service and my Leap card into the zipped pocket on the inside. But I was making my first foray into Christmas shopping, in which you know not the store nor the loyalty card. I also had a tantalising € 200 in gift cards and I reckoned that shuffling them at the top of a check- out queue might just make me the least popular Christmas spirit. So I put the purse in the bag, and off I went.
I felt her take it. I say her, because when I swung around, the only person I saw was a woman in a heavy cream cardigan rushing past me, a little too close. But it may not have been her. Maybe she was just in a hurry because it was December, it was five o’clock, and the cold night was drawing in. We were on the Ha’penny Bridge; the purse was lifted at the precise second that I stepped out to avoid walking into the people sitting on the ground, begging. In that moment, I felt a strange lifting sensation on my shoulder. Weighed down as I was with shopping bags on both sides, I knew immediately what had happened. I scarcely needed to check.
I didn’t keep my life in my purse but there was enough of it there for me to feel sorry for myself regardless. The forty euros in cash – probably the only part of the haul the thief actually used – didn’t matter a jot. But I was disproportionately upset about the gift cards, probably because it felt like other people’s money was being robbed, and the reality of being without a credit card at this time of year – especially when all my online accounts were tied into that now cancelled card – is deeply frustrating. I’d just topped up my Leap card, I was five points away from a half price turkey on my Supervalu card and my Brady’s Butchers stamped card was full. I know that sounds like small beans, but when you’ve presented these cards and collected these stamps for months, it matters.
But it was none of these that came to me first on that bridge of sighs. My dad’s memo- riam card. Photos of the kids. The (odd) measurements of our living room curtains. Louis Walsh’s business card (actually, I didn’t remember that until much later, when I will concede that its peculiar inclusion in the haul did make me smile). Pieces of me. On the bus home – God bless Dublin Bus for the free ride – I suddenly remembered that my new driver’s licence was in the purse. I was due to take my driving test in five days time. After the bank, they were the first people I phoned. Sorry for your trouble and all that, but no, you can’t now take your test.
The Husband called the thief a “toe-rag.” But I had written about the death of Jonathan Corrie on our city streets just the previous day, and I know that this is how the homeless and the hopelessly addicted get by. You can’t demand they be homed on a Wednesday and hanged on a Thursday, just because you have become a victim.
But I am still allowed feel a shade sorry for myself. That night, I saw a tweet claiming the universe had rewarded Ed Sheeran for his Late Late Show kindness by allowing him cavort on stage at the Victoria’s Secrets show. #karma, went the hashtag. Given that I had made a significant donation to Focus Ireland less than 24 hours before I was robbed, I am thinking of starting #karmasharma. I have also now been a victim of crime in my own home town on five separate occasions. You could feel very sorry for yourself about that, or you could get angry about a society that allows so many of its members to live in the shadows.
And on the bright side, I can’t wait to see what Louis Walsh’s next boy band looks like.
I felt her take it. I say her because when I turned the only person I saw was a woman rushing past me, a little too close