Monday, August 02, 2010

You be the judge: more stolen stuff in Egypt

Cairo gave us one last mystery/insult just as we were leaving the country. I present it here so you can assist me in solving it.

The setting. When we arrived in Cairo, our friends the Heisses were just leaving. They passed on to us a huge bin full of various toys and useful household goods. It was a mix of things they had acquired for themselves in Cairo, and things that others had passed down to them.

On Saturday, as we were getting ready to pack up and leave, we re-packed the bin and added a few things to it, like our kiddie pool and a small cooler. Jeremy hauled that bin as well as a folded-up portacrib down five flights of stairs to our front entryway, left them there, and then came back upstairs to grab a few more things. The plan was to get a taxi and deliver the bin and crib and other items to the church, where they could be passed on to other families moving to Cairo.

The crime. In the time it took for Jeremy to go up the stairs, retrieve a few more items, and go back down, the bin and the crib had disappeared!

The evidence. The time elapsed between when Jeremy left the stuff at the bottom of the stairs and when he returned with more stuff could not have been more than three minutes. It was probably more like two minutes.

In addition, upon discovering that the bin and crib were gone, he ran outside and went up and down the street looking for someone hauling them away.

The only person he saw was a neighboring building's bowab, and he was not hauling a huge bin away.

The spot where Jeremy left the bin and crib was not visible from the two ground-floor apartments that open onto that landing.

It was fairly early on a Saturday morning when this happened, so hardly anyone was out and about, both on the streets and in our apartment building.

The placement and arrangement of the bin and crib were such that it really wasn't possible for someone to mistake them as free curbside giveaways. They were packed neatly and organized and sitting in our interior stairwell, up a flight of stairs and behind a door from the street.

The suspects. Jeremy is dead-set on the perpetrator being a freaky recluse living in one of the ground-floor apartments who was listening for Jeremy and reached out and grabbed the stuff as soon as he went upstairs. Seriously. Personally, I think this explanation defies Occam's Razor.

The neighboring building's bowab is a suspect, I guess. But Jeremy said that when he saw him, he was walking nonchalantly and holding newspapers in his hands so unless he is great at putting on an act, I think we can rule him out.

Which brings us to our bowab. I really don't like to suspect the guy, but I don't know what to think. He is the only one who would have been randomly walking around the building at that time, and also the only one (besides someone in one of the lower apartments) who would have been able to take the stuff away and put it somewhere before Jeremy came back downstairs (the bowab lives behind the building).

Conclusion. I would love to hear your alternative explanations. Maybe there's something in the above evidence that points to something other than what I've suggested.

The more important conclusion, however, is that although our stuff was technically stolen, we were giving it away anyway. It's just that now it will benefit someone other than who we intended.

And that someone is a thief.


Suzanne Bubnash said...

What a shame that theft was a problem there. It leaves a bad taste for the whole country, even though it's just one person acting.

Merkley Jiating said...

WHAT?! That's so frustrating! I know you wouldn't have it anyway, but you didn't even get the good feeling of helping someone! You didn't get to pass on the joy you had of getting all those toys. And the thief doesn't know that they were intended to be given away. They could have just robbed you of some important/sentimental things. I'm sorry!

I am not sure if I got a new passport before they raised the fees. It cost $110. Is that more than it used to be? Actually, don't tell me. I'd rather not know.

Susanne said...

You mean Kevin was stolen?!?!?! Argh!

That's so irritating to know someone stole these items. I vote for the person who lives nearby who saw an American with a bin who left it alone. Perfect opportunity to get some new stuff for the family. Just in time for Ramadan...nice.

Glad you made it home safely!

Bridget said...

Kevin is safe! We took him back to America with us. The girls love him.

Susanne said...

Ha...oh good! I kind of grew attached to him after your posts about his history. Maybe he can travel to Sarjah with you now! He can be like one of those Flat Stanley things only Toy Kevin. Maybe Miriam can keep a blog/journal about his adventures with the Palmer family. :)

Andrew said...

What?! Insane! We never had a problem with theft, even when we were moving out and had our stuff on multiple curbs/apartment foyers for extended periods of time.

You guys must have been cursed. Or something.

Bridget said...

Nah, we're not cursed, we just happen to have a freaky recluse neighbor and/or klepto bowab. I almost feel like I should apologize for "losing" all that stuff you gave us. Especially the crib! But as Miriam said, maybe the person who took it needs it for their baby. In which case I am happy to give it to them. Not so happy to have it stolen, though.

Nancy said...

The area in the stairwell is really a portal to another dimension. You should have tried standing there for two minutes to see where it would have taken you. I guess we'll never know now.

I'm sure the toys and crib will be used well. :)


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