Yesterday I witnessed the robbery of my neighbor's house. I took my dog for a walk, passed the bend of the graveled road, and saw a car in front of his house, with a man standing next to it. I knew instantly: something is wrong.
When the man saw me coming, he gave a shout, he walked around the car, and opened the trunk lid completely. From the house came two other men. They jumped in the car and went away. The purpose of opening the trunk lid is clear I suppose: I couldn't see the license number.
There were still some 50 meters to go, but I was sure what to find - I have had the same experience some time ago. Indeed, an open door, a lot of things on the floor, clothes, bags and so on. A laptop on the stairs outside, probably forgotten when they hurried away.
It's the usual hit and run. You have a holiday house, most of the time the windows shuttered, the main door provided with an iron grating. But then you are there. They notice. And, when you go for a visit to one of those delightful hilltop towns, they come.
I left the place as it was, securing his laptop in my house and went to the village where his odd job man lives. When I came back with the man, the owner of the house, a German, had just returned, and tried to warn the police with "his" Italian - it didn't work. So, I took over and informed the carabinieri. They promised to come - which in Italy can work out to be a long term promise.
I had done my job - an easy job. I restored the computer, gave the owner a pat on the back, promised him to return when the police was there, trying to comfort him with the fact that I had had the same experience, which was no comfort at all.
The man was outraged. Knowing the man had suffered a heart attack lately, I prayed another neighbor, who is very good in handling all kind of people, to go to the man:
» che posso fare, Leonardo, non parlo Tedesco (what can I do)
» da’ un abbraccio (put an arm around his shoulder)
It didn’t' work either.
In its essence it's just two things: it's about money - sometimes a thing of personal value - which will be compensated for by the insurance company.
And then there's something which comes later: you know yourself intruded in your intimacy, which sometimes turns out to be traumatic ... I felt it again, the moment I saw the door opened, the clothes at the floor.
In the evening he and his wife came along to thank me, while I was having dinner with my German friend - which helped them to relax a bit, because now they could share it with a fellow countryman. I offered them a glass of wine, uttering the usual phrases: it was nothing, I did my duty ... that kind of stuff.
This morning they left early to return to Germany. When I went out with my dog I found at my garden gate a basket with bottles of wine, homemade. I wondered: who could have done that?
There was a note. It read: Grazie ancora una volta per la tua aiuto. Danke und bis bald.
Sometimes it is impossible to fathom the real impact of what you do.