Tuesday, 2 August 2011

The longest last day ever

Well, it's official, I'm on holiday for 3 weeks and honestly, I don't feel like it, what with preparing for moving day and I'm not doing anything remotely 'holiday like' during these three weeks.  I haven't even had an apero or a beer since Friday.  Oh well.

My last day at work was so eventful that I thought it only right to blog about it (yes, shock horror, Emmy is posting! :op )

My last day started at 5.30am.  I had to meet a group that we had welcomed during July to get them on the bus to the airport for their long haul flight.

I met them at 6am, everyone turned up and returned their apartment keys.  I did the same last year on my last day.  Have you ever been up and functional in a town centre at 6am? You know, I'm surprised how many people are up and about - I met council workers doing the bin round, the usual cafĂ© owners and young student types walking home from a night out - one group of young people even stopped to say hi and wished the group 'bon voyage' back home.

When it was time to go at about 6.20am, everyone thanked me and got on the bus to go.  This is where it all went wrong. One of the group leaders said 'where's my bag'? We looked everywhere, the bus driver got bags out from the storage trunk and nothing.  We realised that the innocent group who wished us 'bon voyage' where not 3 like I remember, but 4.  They had made a diversion and the 4th  member of the group had got on the bus, spoke to the driver casually and on leaving, must have casually picked up the little rucksack of the group leader which was on the front seat of the bus before casually walking off.  Everything was in there - passport, money, cards, everything.

A police car (municipale) passed by and we flagged it down (in fact, one member of the group ran down the road screaming!) and I ran after her to translate.  So, at 6.30am, I was in a police van with 5 police officers, going round the town, looking in the usual places to track the thieves down.  The police national joined us, we rode through the park, down tiny alleys.  We looked everywhere and no luck, we didn't come across anyone meeting the (vague) description I had given them.  I could feel the adrenelin of the police officers - they were pissed they couldn't capture anyone, I just kept thinking how surreal the situation was.

side note: this is the first time I've had to give a description to police officers and I realise it's REALLY hard.  Under the pressure, you realise that you have no idea - I had not taken much notice of the group as I hate with a passion stupid people in France oo try to speek Ingleesh for no reason - it's cringey - so giving the police a description was hard of 3 people that I had seen, and there was in fact 4 of them)

We got back to the bus and the group had been looking in the bins in the local area in the hope of finding the bag, but nothing.

They had to leave as they were now an hour late and they all were going to miss their flight, which was in 4 hours and it takes 1h20 to get to the airport.  On the way to the airport, they rang the Embassy and met the police at the airport to report the theft.  By all miracles of miracles, the victim got on her flight as planned with a pass from the Embassy.  The journey to the airport must have been awful for everyone, I'm so pleased she was able to get the flight like planned - it really would have been 10 times worse otherwise. 

But what's done is done.  I learnt a very valuable lesson - I can't believe someone had the nerve to get on the bus, talk to the bus driver and steal a bag like it was the most natural thing in the world.  Always keep your bag with you - or put valuable things in your pocket not a bag.

The worst thing is that the whole group is now left with the horrible last impression of our town.  I'm so angry and feel so helpless about that.

That day I felt really jumpy if someone was walking behind me and I was looking at everyone really carefully, thinking 'was it him?'. I kept thinking 'Could I have done anything more or differently'? and replaying the scenario in my head.  Horrible feeling.

You know, it really was the longest day ever.  After all this, I went to the office and then had to do a multitude of exhausting tasks in town - I must have walked about 8 miles that day.  I got home 12 hours later, and 3 hours after that I had a swolen knee and ankle.  Just to start my holidays with an extra special bang.

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