How We Spent Our Last Day in Florida

We celebrated our 5th anniversary while we were in Florida and since we spent our actual anniversary in the Keys with Tay’s father and girlfriend, we decided on our last night in Florida to go back to Joseph’s for a quiet dinner.

Both Joseph and his son were there to greet us, we once again sat outdoors at one of the sidewalk tables. We ordered an appetizer, indulged in bread and olive oil and wine; Tay ordered the rack of lamb and I went with the coconut-walnut crusted salmon. We toasted each other and our anniversary.

Tay had a second glass of wine and I ordered a hot chocolate and a piece of cake for dessert.

It was a pleasant way to end a pleasant day. We had spent the morning doing most of our packing, then spent an hour or so at the pool. We had lunch and golfed in the afternoon – both Tay and I played our best games for our entire trip. Tay knocked six strokes off his game while I only managed to knock three but there were a few holes where I managed to get onto the green with my second stroke. It was the other holes (the longer ones) that I got frustrated and lost my temper – and threw my first club. Earlier lightning in the day kept most of the other golfers off the course and there was one other person playing solo, which meant we had the course mostly to ourselves and therefore we were able to play at a brisk, uninterrupted pace without having to wait on anyone. We finished the game in two and a half hours, went home for our swimsuits and returned to the pool.

I felt calm and relaxed and happy as I sipped my hot chocolate and enjoyed the breeze along the street in Pineapple Grove. My legs were bare, my skin was warmed from the day in the sun, the food and service at the restaurant was what we had hoped. Tay and I talked about our trip and the things we had done, and how nice it would be to go home.

And then my wallet got snatched.

I distinctly remember looking up from talking to Tay and seeing a man walking up the street towards us. He caught my attention and my instincts kicked in but I ignored them – choosing instead to NOT be one of those people that clutch their purse when they walk pass a black person. The man continued to talk on his cell phone, I continued my conversation with my husband.

How I wish I’d listened to my instincts and reached for my wallet – even if it meant feeling like a racist asshole the rest of the night.

The man started past us, then doubled back slightly, quickly reaching across the table and in front of me for my wallet that was on the edge of the table closest to the window of the restaurant. The table shook, I leaned back from the person that was suddenly in my space, wine glasses got knocked over, wine spilled into my lap. I blinked, and tried to understand why my skirt was suddenly soaked.

And then Tay said, “He’s got your wallet!”

The storekeeper from next door to the restaurant came running from his shop, shouting for someone to stop the guy disappearing up the street with my wallet. Tay jumped to his feet and started to run, with the shopowner behind him. Joseph came running from the restaurant, shouting for his son to call the police and followed in pursuit. I stood there in my wet skirt and flip flops, not sure what to do.

A police car arrived, pulling up in front of the restaurant, it’s lights flashing. I kept looking down the street, in the direction that Tay had run. He was gone for what felt like a very long time and I started to worry. I saw him, then, walking back towards us, emptyhanded. Two other police cars arrived, lights flashing, I sat back down in my chair and looked at the mess that was our dinner table. It got very loud as everyone tried to tell the police officers what happened. I was shaking, and tried to answer the questions the officer asked me as best as I could. Passerbys gathered round, asked the shopowners what had happened, the story got relayed. Tay explained that he had chased the guy up the street but had lost him when he turned into a dark alley. The shopowner next door that had joined the chase had apparently hopped in his car that was parked in the parking garage next to the alley and went looking for the guy. He returned a few minutes later and gave a very detailed description of what the guy looked like. He had noticed him walking down the street the other direction, he explained, and then noticed him when he walked back towards us. I guess my instincts weren’t the only ones that kicked in.

My wallet was fairly new, a Christmas present from Tay. I was carrying about $75 US and maybe $20 CDN. It had all my credit cards, my driver’s license and health card. My wallet was this one and it zips up and therefore holds both my passport and iphone but fortunately, I wasn’t carrying either one of those things, having removed my passport from my wallet shortly after we arrived in Florida.

I used Tay’s cell phone to call and cancel my credit cards, filled out a police report. The very tiny female officer seemed disappointed by the answers to some of my questions. No, I wasn’t holding my wallet when it was snatched. No, the wallet itself wasn’t worth more than $300. No, I couldn’t say for sure if he pushed me away from the table. I thought at first that he had but realized after the fact that I probably pushed away from the table when he leaned across me.

She clearly wanted it to be a more serious crime than what it actually was.

She kept apologizing profusely for what had happened, said over and over how bad she felt. Joseph and his son were visibly upset, and as well couldn’t stop apologizing. When the cops finally left, Tay and I eventually got up from the table to leave. We thanked Joseph and his son for their help, told them this wasn’t their fault. I bit my lip to keep from crying as I walked away from the broken glass on the table. We were halfway to the car when we were called out to and we turned to see a couple of the men that had gathered on the sidewalk outside the restaurant. They were sorry to hear what had happened, they explained, and knew that we were visiting Delray. The shop next to Joseph’s was a gallery, they continued, with these beautiful painted hearts that have become known as the hearts of Delray. The gallery owner wanted to give me one of the hearts to take home with me so that I would have something nice to remember Delray by, something more than having my wallet snatched on my last night there. I wanted to just go home at that point and thought I was going to cry at any moment as they talked but I nodded, and followed them into the gallery. The owner introduced himself, presented the small painting of a heart and told me how sorry he was. I nodded and turned away as I continued to fight tears.

We flew home Thursday afternoon, arriving early Thursday evening and on Friday morning, Tay drove me to the DMV to get a new license and from there we went to the health office so I could request a new card. We only had to wait a couple of minutes at the DMV and at the health office, when I told the woman at reception that my wallet was stolen, she filled my request right then and there, instead of having me wait. I had joked to Tay that the DMV and health office needed a front of the line policy for people that had their stuff stolen and maybe at the health office they do have an unofficial policy to help out those that have had the unfortunate luck of being stolen from. If I was doing their job, I too would do what I could to make things easier on someone that was stolen from because guess what? Having your wallet and all your ID stolen REALLY SUCKS.

I’ve told this story a few times already since getting home, and a couple of times, people have been shocked at how nonchalant I’ve been about the whole ordeal. And it’s not non-chalance, not really, but more me realizing that it could have been a whole lot worse then what had actually happened. I don’t like to think about what could have happened to Tay if he had followed the guy down that alley, or how difficult my getting home would have been if my passport had been in my wallet. No one got hurt, the only thing broken was a wine glass and the wine that got dumped on my white linen skirt was white and not red :).

I’ve known people that have had their house broken into, or have been carjacked or robbed at a bank machine, and the hundreds of dollars that they’re forced to hand over is their rent money. I lost about a hundred bucks, ID that can be replaced and a nice wallet, and yes, it really sucks but it could have been a lot worse. A LOT.

It was a random act and one bad moment out of a hundred good moments on our vacation. I’ll visit again, I promised them as I left the gallery, because petty theft exists everywhere you go but the kind of concern and dismay that the shopowners showed us that night doesn’t exist everywhere. It’s a place with a lot of heart, and I’ve got one to hang on my wall to prove it.

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12 Responses to How We Spent Our Last Day in Florida

  1. Wow, Tawny. What a shitty thing, with a lovely ending. It’s nice when people are so kind in the face of something so jarringly intrusive.

    I’m glad you’re okay.

    Beautiful painting!

  2. Jody says:

    I second Dawn – and what a beautiful gift from the ‘goodies’ of this world. Thank God we outnumber the ‘baddies’.

    Remember when someone tried not once, but twice to get into my backpack in Paris? Shame Longbottom wasn’t with you, SHE would have kicked his ass 😉

  3. Fern Wimpley says:

    Sorry it happened sister! Scary! It sounded like something out of a movie. But glad you’re both okay.
    Your painting really is beautiful, the kindness of the locals even more so.

  4. Taylor says:

    Yeah it was an interesting experience, because it happened so fast I spent the first second wondering what happened, the 2nd second figuring it out and the 3rd reacting to the shop owner.

    So I spring up and start sprinting, the guys’ got about 40 to 50 feet on me, I’m holding a good pace (despite a couple glasses of wine in me) and our distance is now constant and the guy turns the first corner and I hear someone’s running behind me but I can’t look back, I then turn the corner and as I turn it the thief turns right again (it’s a narrow building with a rear alley access way/parking lot), then I start thinking “Who is running behind me shouting to ‘get him'”.. so then I turn the corner into the alley and the guy is gone, can’t be seen. I start thinking I made a mistake and the guy running behind me is probably an accomplice and he’s going to rob me (this is typical me initially thinking the average person is actually intelligent). I turn around and it’s this older, but very shaggy white dood in sweat pants. I’m not convinced one way or the other yet. I start walking back towards the street quickly (want to be back towards the light and public eyes) and the guys says “did he come down here?” and I said “yes, definately” and he starts walking past me towards the parking garage.. so I turn back now thinking this was just another patron on the sidewalk behind us (as he would have had a great view of what happened). He says “I’m going to get him” and hops into the garage (open air conrete wall) and runs to his car… I start walking down the length of the alley trying to listen for noise and as the alley gets darker, I start realizing I’m alone. I turn around, realize “it’s over”, smack my hands together, and curse. I start peering over the bushes because he disappeared so quickly he must be hiding, but I again remind myself I’m alone and now that I can’t see him, he’d have the upper hand. Then I start thinking Tawn’s probably worried because it’s probably been almost a minute now since I would have gone out of her sight and I speed up walking back. I’m thinking about how shitty this is and how it’s going to suck having to replace what’s in it and all that crap people have to go through. But I was resigned pretty quickly to the situation. As I’m walking back and getting close to the table I can see the cops coming (it was a very quick response) but as they’re slowing down in front of us, I’m saying “Don’t stop here, go look for the guy, he ain’t here”. But again, as I’m resigned and I know it’s just a wallet and they’re not going to do shit. When the third car shows up.. I’m annoyed.

    Anyhow, we cancel the cards immediately. Tawn’s pretty upset. The cop was funny and scary at the same time. The mentality of your average american was apparent in most of the people involved. But along with their perpetual fear and aggressiveness was their hearts too. The store owners were really upset (sure they have a stake in the situation on a business level but real concern and sympathy was there) and then the gesture by the other business owners, the one lawyer, the 2nd guy and the gallery owner and his gf/wife. It’s another example of why service in most areas of the US demolishes the pathetic attempts of service and sincerity of strangers in our country. American’s get it and value other people and their business down to a personal level and for Canadians, it’s just a job, and obviously one most feel is beneath them and it often shows.

    Ironically mere minutes before the theft happened I was discussing (complaining) to Tawny about americans and the income disparity in south florida. Fort Lauderdale and it’s canals are beyond ridiculous. Gorgeous and neat to see but so pathetic in the grand scheme of life. Even I think discussing the money Delray was putting into buying the low income housing a mere half mile or so from where we got robbed to move people out of the neighbourhood. Typical american societal flaw.. and them bam.. robbed. Hah.

    BTW, while I’m on it, the reaction of the other store owner could have got me killed. I don’t know if I’d have run after the guy if I wasn’t prompted. If I had 10 seconds to think about it (the 10 I was thining about it when I was running after him) I may have just called the cops, or only ran down the one block to see what direction he was going in. But because it happened so fast and I’m pretty neutral about situations until I’m in them to evaluate, I moved on his prompting. A little scary.

    Anyhow, it’s all good. New life experience and all. I’m sure we both learned some things out of it.

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