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A letter from Portugal E No. 33
An incident on New Yearfs Eve

Please forgive me to write on an incident which occurred in winter time. I know that we are in the middle of hot summer season. It may sound like an old commercial TV g Santa Clause is coming in summerh

. It happened on 31st of December 2007, on the New Yearfs Eve. A public holiday of the New Year is just 1st day of January here in Portugal, but some of the stores are closed for several days on the New Year and so we started for shopping to the market which we very often visit.

It was around one ofclock in the afternoon and the market was about to be closed. We very often buy vegetables at Franciliafs store. We take her a serious and honest sales lady.

We bought tomatoes, broccoli, onions and others and went back to our house with heavy baggage. Two hours later, my husband asked to me if I had his purse with me. gNo, I donft.h That was the beginning of this story.

Thinking that he might have dropped his purse, he started for the same route which we took on our way back to the house. I, myself, made a search for the missing purse in the house. A little while afterwards, my husband came back apparently disappointed. He said, gThe market was closed and the cleaning has started. I explained what happened and asked to let me in. They were very kind and helpful. One of them even joined me to do searching for the purse. But all efforts were in vain.h

We started the search in our house again but it was also useless. g I remember that I paid for the goods at Franciliafs store but I donft remember of the purse if I kept it in my pocketh, he said. gHow did I handle my purse ? I may have dropped it on my way back to the house or I may have left it on the table at the store.h He tried intently to remember how he behaved after our shopping.

gHow much money was left in the purse ?h I asked to him. gMuch more than as usual. As I cleared the drawers of the desk which I do every end of the year, I found some money there and EEE.h He also kept his driverfs license, his bank card and residential permit for the foreigners in his purse. His many regrets !

After a short talk, we went to the police station and reported what happened. A chief police officer, Mr. Ferreira, who took charge of our case, was very kind and talked slowly with us. He asked, gHow much money was in the purse ?h gA little more than 400 Euros.h gOh my god !h I stared at my husband in the face. gYou should not keep so much money when you go to the market.h He advised.

He gave us a document necessary for the re-issuance of the driverfs license. He also gave us the phone number to let stop the use of the missing bank card. Taking it all in all, however, I had the impression from the police officer that we had the least possibility to find out the purse when you had much money in it. I tried to persuade myself that we had to give up the hope to recover the purse. But at the same time, I admit that I wished that Dona Francilia, a greengrocer, would have kept the purse for us.@If she had the purse and opened it, she could find out to whom the purse belong, its phone number, postal address and EEEEEE.

Close to midnight, somebody knocked at the front door. gIt must be Dona Francilia !h Two of us dashed to the front door. It was Mr. and Mrs. I, who brought a New Year present for us.

On the New Yearfs Day, we truly realized how it would make things difficult for us to lose the purse at this occasion. We had an appointment at the Foreignerfs Registration Office on 4th of this month. The due date of our residential permit was close to be over and we needed to renew it. Could we have a new permit without the existing permit card ? The renewal of a driving license and also a bank card would force us to the long and troublesome procedures.

What came to my mind on that day were all miserable guesses. gWhat happens if he had dropped the purse on the road ? g gWhat happens if he had dropped the purse in the market ?h gWhat happens if he had left the purse on Flanciliafs vegetables and the next customer picked it up ?h That was the worst New Yearfs Day in these years. We could not enjoy at all the whole day.

On the second day of the New Year, just after the opening hour of the market, we rushed to Franciliafs store. There, she was waiting for our arrival. With a smile, she reached into her bag and came out with his purse. There it was !

gIt was left on tomatoesh she said. She found it and kept it for us. gI was so surprised to find the purse full of such a large amount of money.h He looked so happy with the purse and with Francilia. The happy New Year has come to our family now.

Thank you so much Francilia !

We will buy all the fruits and vegetables

we need at your store.

Dona Francilia is not very talkative. She rather listen to what her customers talk to her. After this happening, however, she talked of this incident to many of her customers. When we happened to be there, she always said to her customer, gThis couple is who left the purse on the tomatoes.h The client winks to me to which I wink back. We had been just one of her many clients but after this happening, she shows much intimacy to us and we enjoy good relationship with her.

Because of this happening, we have come to know Mr. Ferreira, a police officer. This fact gives also an assurance to us to live in this foreign town.
August 2008 y@Takae@z