Sunday, September 02, 2007

Rewarding thievery

This is an old story that I found while sorting through some stuff I brought up from the basement.

It takes place in the early summer of 2000, when I was living in a room in C's apartment on Bjurholmsplan in Stockholm. I was having brunch with old-time friend N down in the small courtyard-like garden that had been wedged in between four seven-storey buildings. We were just about to start when a man carrying a pack of cigarettes comes out from a back door, apparently to have a smoke.

He asks if he can join, which he naturally can.

None of us have yet noticed that he is drunk as a skunk. Later we will be told that this man is the notorious Nisse, an on-and-off alcoholic who lives in the apartment above C. Nisse who watches Jeopardy with the volume cranked up so high you can guess the answers from C's apartment. Nisse who puts up signs in the elevator asking people not to smoke there and then happily puffs away himself. Nisse who gets so furious when C asks him not to roll his cigarettes (and spill tobacco) outside his door that he sends totally incomprehensible hate letters. But of this we know nothing yet.

That he's drunk becomes apparent rather quick. He is, when all said and done, not very keen on smoking (maybe he already had one in the elevator) but rather keen on having a chat. He tells us he's lived here (where "here" is, is a bit vague, he states three different apartments as being his home) for 34 years, he has been a pastry chef (lotta biscottis y'kno', but you wudnt kno' wha' that is*), that he fell and hurt himself two weeks ago and that he shortly (very shortly, we hope) will go back in to watch Formula 1 race.

But the point of the story, the reason I wrote this entry, is the story of what he just did.

He takes out a wallet that he "found" in the front seat of a car parked outside.

- The front door was unlocked, I mean, man, how the hell can you leave the front door unlocked when you got a wallet in the front seat."

We try to convince him that the best would probably be to put the wallet back where he "found" it, but he refuses. He is going to call the owner and then return it. Why he wants to do it this way (and risk being charged with theft) becomes evident when he tells the story of the time he saw a man forget his brief case in the street.

Nisse took the briefcase home, opened it, fund the owner's phone number and called him to arrange a meeting to return the briefcase. The owner of the briefcase was so grateful that he brought a bottle of fine french wine as finders fee.

Without actually saying it it all becomes obvious. Nisse wants another bottle. He is going to call the owner of a wallet that he stole from a car, banking on that the owner will be so grateful that he will give him a bottle of wine as finders fee.



*No, he didn't speak english, what he said was "Mycke krokaner vettu, men det vet ju inte ni vad de e", but those of you out there who does not read Swedish wouldn't get much out of that sentence.

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