How I got a thief to give me his money.

One of the great things about being a parent is that you get to meet the local people who have children at the same school. Fremantle has a quirky demographic so there were some true gems and then we had the opposite — those people who have a sense of entitlement.

When my daugher was young some of the school parents would turn up at my home in pain and expect me to park her in front of TV while I treated them for free. Interestingly enough I noticed all of these people either had government jobs or were on benefits!

Some of these people —not all of course— are use to being supported with all of those entitlements that are not common in the private sector. Things such as a permanent position no matter how useless they are, endless clients who are not paying who have no choice but to deal with you.

A very small percentage of these “workers/receivers of government money” can be rude, obnoxious or even worse take forever to do the smallest thing—all the time knowing that they are wielding huge power of the lives of the poor public. They know that no matter how they behave their income and entitlements are secure. That sense of entitlement makes them depressed unhappy and takes away their zest for life.

Of course, some government people work hard and do really fantastic things with a high standard of care, even although they have all of those entitlements.

This story is about my brush with some people with that sense of entitlement.

That whole co dependent scene where I was asked to work outside working hours for free was simply not my style I couldn’t for the life of me understand these people.

To sort this situation I simply opened up a room in Fremantle and got rid of the couch at home. I then advertised this fact in fairly firm terms and Voila! The problem was solved.

I now understand that these people did me a favor, as I am not sure I would have opened the Fremantle clinic if I hadn’t been forced. It was not intentionally a “business” but over time it become very successful.

At the time of this story one of my clients was a chief from up north. She had been involved in a motor vehicle accident where the car she was traveling in had hit a bull.

This woman was a large woman in more ways than one—a real character. When the car hit the bull her knees had smashed into the dashboard and they were shattered. Due to a number of medical reasons she was unable to have knee replacements, so she was unable to walk for more than a few steps. She would arrive on her “gofer” and park it in the middle of the waiting room so that the whole room was practically filled.

She would then use some sticks to struggle painfully the few steps to the treatment couch in the closest room.

One fine sunny day I was in the room treating her when I heard a sound in the waiting room. I went out and found a man behind the front desk looking through the drawers.

Of course you never know what your response would be when something like this happens and I was rather surprised by mine.

I started yelling at the top of my voice “Thief! Call the Police! – Thief! Call the police!” and without any thought I rushed over to the front door and slammed the heavy bolt shut.

Only then did I realize that I had just bolted myself in with a maybe (?) a violent man.

I tried to step back from the door but had nowhere to go as the gofer was in the way.

The thief rushed to the front door looking frantic and stricken. I was in his way so he shoved me so hard that I fell to the floor. Luckily I bounce so I bounced back up and moved away from him wondering how I had got myself in such a silly situation.

He was so nervous and upset that he had difficulty in unbolting the simple bolt! His hands and whole body were visibly shaking.

During the whole time I kept up my screaming “Thief! Call the police!!!”

My poor client was immobilized on the coach listening to it all. We had quiet a chuckle about it afterwards!

Eventually after some fumbling he managed to unbolt the front door and he ran outside. Well, much to my surprise — I ran after him and this is where my early childhood training of practicing wolf whistles with the Crayfishermen at Jurien Bay paid off. I have the loudest wolf whistle of anyone I know.  Logically, I started with my piercing whistle and then I would yell “Thief! Call the police!!!” as I ran after him.

He realized that with me carrying on like that he was likely to get caught. So, he turned and faced me and gave me his bum bag. He said that he had not taken any money from me and he was simply going to use the toilet in my rooms. I guess he was practiced at lying his way out of trouble. I grabbed his bag and marched back inside with him following meekly behind.

I opened his bag and inside there were three wallets. I took no notice of this, as my brain was still a tad discombobulated by the experience. All I noticed was that my money pouch was not there.

As he stood quietly on the other side of the desk I checked my money and found that he had not had enough time to find where it was hidden. I then gave him back his bum bag and dismissed him.

Only afterwards did I think: “Why would he have three wallets?”

So, I rang the police.

One of my lawyer friends once told me that the only difference between the Police and the criminals is which side they are on and my conversation with them on this occasion suggested that he could be right.

I was told that if I reported this event they could charge me for deprivation of liberty for bolting the door. Not much joy there.

Fremantle is a small community so I would see “my special thief” sitting on a bench and I would go over and sit next to him.  I would tell him that he could do things differently and not be someone who goes around doing the silly things that he does. This was not an uncomfortable conversation. He would not make eye contact however he would sit there in a relaxed way.

A couple of years later I noticed my “special thief” waiting at a bus stop in central Fremantle in florescent workers clothing with what looked like a packed lunch. This was on my 5.30 am runs, I would run past every day and here would be there.

At first he would not make eye contact even although he would acknowledge me with a nod. I thought the lack of eye contact thing was cultural so just accepted it.

After a few months he started to look up look me directly in the eyes and smile as I ran past.

He is now working and appears happy and unhindered by his previously crippling sense of entitlement. Who knows?

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