Monday, March 11, 2013

Jeremy Bourne

On Saturday, we attended a community gathering at the youth center on campus. There were activities for the whole family - a climbing wall, make-your-own candy necklaces, flour-balloon friends (that had a cute British name but which I can't remember), Xbox, table tennis, etc. A friend of ours from the University of Arizona (who now lives in Oman) was up visiting us just for the day, and she came with us to the gathering to kill time before her flight back to Muscat later that afternoon.

Well, us adults ended up playing Guitar Hero for a few songs...or a few more...and by the time the game was over, our friend looked down and noticed that her purse was missing! A purse which, I should add, contained her passport and plane ticket for later that day.

Honestly, I didn't panic at first. Sharjah in general and campus specifically are not big on petty crime. Besides, Jeremy and I knew almost every single person in attendance at that gathering, and we figured that some kid (or adult, really) had accidentally walked off with the purse, mistaking it for their own. So we looked and asked around a bit. I got excited when I saw a completely unattended purse in the corner of another room, so I picked it up and brought it to our friend to ask if it was hers. It wasn't, which means I had just done to someone else what we thought someone else had just done to our friend.

(I put the purse back in its place, of course....and it sat there unstolen, unattended, for the next two hours. Like I said, this place is generally free of petty crime.) (And other types of crime, when I think about it.)

As we continued to look for the purse in every corner of the youth center, we found out from the youth center staff that the area where the purse was taken could be seen on a security camera. Awesome! - we would be able to see who had taken the purse, whether it had been on purpose or accidentally. The problem was, the youth center staff didn't have the authority (or ability) to rewind the tape to the time frame we needed. So our friend and I got to work trying to contact the security guy in Dubai on a Saturday afternoon to come rewind the tape so we could hopefully recover the purse before her flight left.

Jeremy, meanwhile, took the search up a notch. You see, since this gathering was held at an official center on campus that is usually only open to children and youth, there was a sign-in sheet by the entrance where we had all (or almost all) scrawled our names and house numbers to varying degrees of legibility. Jeremy took this sheet and immediately started working the room, asking anyone if they'd accidentally taken a purse and crossing off the names one by one.

But some of the people who had signed in had already left, so Jeremy found a phone in the corner of the room and started calling. And calling. And calling. It wasn't the easiest conversation to have with people - "did you or your children, uh, accidentally maybe steal someone's purse?" - but most people were very helpful even if they ultimately had not seen/taken the purse.

UNTIL. He called one lady who said something like, "oh yeah, I think my daughter's friend might have grabbed someone else's bag!" Jackpot!!!! We were so glad to have found the purse and our friend immediately stopped cancelling her credit cards. The lady brought the purse back and handed it over, but only after opening it to remove the miscellaneous toys her daughter's friend had put inside. In other words, exactly what we suspected had happened at the beginning, WAS what had happened - some little girl walked off with a bag that she thought was hers but wasn't.

The most impressive part of this story to me is how Jeremy had the idea to talk to everyone who had signed in. I don't know if I ever would have thought of that. On the walk home, our friend and I were kidding Jeremy about having learned that tactic on Law & Order or something, but it turns out he was thinking, "what would Jason Bourne do?" As it turned out, that was the right question to ask.


Jeremy Palmer said...

ha ha ha. Great post but it doesn't portray the extreme stress I was feeling. And I didn't ask if a kid had stolen the purse. I asked if someone had accidentally taken it. Everyone I spoke with and called was very polite except one person who shall remain unnamed. Here is what I did: First I wanted to post a sentinel at the door with the instructions "no one gets out until I have spoken with them," but I didn't think the staff would allow that. I was also looking for a blow horn or comm system, but I didn't find one. The staff was very helpful but they didn't have -perhaps understandably - the same sense of urgency as me. Next I made a copy of all the people who had signed in. I walked around and confirmed with each person still there that no one in their party had left yet. Unfortunately, several of the people I asked had not even signed in. After eliminating some of the names of people who were still there, I found a phone and started calling the rest using our internal directory. Not everyone was home. I slowly crossed off names until ka-ching! I found it. I don't know why I get like that in an emergency. I've seen my older brother take control of any given situation - bless his heart - so it must be in my DNA somehow. I have had to act like that several times around the world.

Especially once in Moscow when a group of about 100 skinheads came walking toward me and some other Americans. They had no idea what to do so I had to tell them to quickly move to a nearby store and not to make eye contact. My biggest fear is that some time I will make a mistake like the kid who thinks he is helping by moving someone in an accident that should have not been moved. Nightmare!

Another time was in 2001 October at a hotel in DC when I woke up feeling that something wasn't right and I should get dressed and put shoes on. Perhaps noises woke me up? Well, very soon thereafter I did heard loud noises in the hallway. I looked out my peep hole and saw a man walking down the hall trying to forcibly enter every door. He was alternating sides of the hallway as he walked down. When he got to mine it was bit frightening to see him try to shove my door open as I stare right at him through the peep hole. After about 20 seconds I heard the fire alarm go off. I think this may have been a ploy to get people to open their doors. So I carefully opened my door and when I saw the coast was clear I made my way to the nearest exit and started to descend. Near the bottom of the stairs a 20-something woman entered the stairwell. We were about to exit the stairwell when I said we should slowly make sure no one was outside waiting for us. We kind of snuck around a concrete column until all appeared safe. We were the first two people out of the hotel. As others came out, we all chatted and waited for the fire dept to arrive. I remember the woman kind of hitting on me, but no way (wo)man! I was to be married the next month to one BMW!

Glenda The Good said...

Nice detective work Jeremy! Sounds like your one of those ten percent of people who make a situation better, rather then the 80% who do nothing, or the 10% who make things worse. I remember another story about someone being on your balcony when you woke up, stealing wedding gifts perhaps? Seems like maybe your should be doing" governmen"t work. Did you guys watch Argo? I have a friend in the neighborhood who for many reasons I think of as my local Bridget, one of which is her husband named Jeremy. A couple of weeks ago the house across the street burned to the ground. They were alerted to the problem when they heard amo that was stored in the garage start to go off as the flames hit the garage. She told me after her husband saw the fire out the window he started immediately getting dressed, it was eleven at night, and calling for her to call 911. She told me she kept saying over and over, "wait are you joking" because she just froze. Meanwhile he ran out the door to start banging on the house to make sure the neighbors were out cell phone in hand so he could call 911 himself. Seems like you Jeremys are helpful to have in an emergency :). Glad you guys found the purse! Losing a passport, stressful stuff!

Kathy Haynie said...

What kind of a ditzy mother allows "her daughter's friend to go home with someone else's bag"??!!??!! Sheesh.

Jeremy, your comments made this good post even better. If you write a blog, I'll be one of your followers, for sure! Thanks for saving the day.

Liz Johnson said...

For a second I thought you had photo-shopped Jeremy's face on Jason Bourne, and it made me super happy.

Jeremy - I seriously wonder if that guy just made a mad dash stealing stuff through everybody's rooms after the fire alarm went off. That's obnoxious. I had never thought of somebody using the fire alarm to do something like that.

Bridget said...

I know, right? The boring details are something like, the mom was in charge of her daughter and her daughter's friend, and as they were leaving, she told the daughter's friend to go get her bag, and apparently she just grabbed A bag instead of her own. And the mom didn't know any better since it wasn't her own daughter's stuff, after all.

Stacie Perkins Palmer said...

I say bravo to Jeremy's investigative and deductive reasoning skills! Though I think JB probably would have taken out that would-be crook in DC who was thumping on all the doors.

Getting the video footage was a brilliant move, also, Bridget. You two make a fierce team.

Bridget said...

You know, I would still love to see that video footage, because it shows 4+ adults zoned out to Guitar Hero while a 5-year-old girl rifles through and then takes a purse. That's either a great ad for GH or else a warning against it.

dave said...

I don't really have anything to add to this other than to say good job, Jeremy, you saved the day, and I'm glad my heart was blessed in your comment. One can never get enough heart blessings, I imagine.


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