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As they looked around for the offending avian, they quickly found themselves in the presence of what seemed to be a husband and wife pair in their late thirties.

Kay JewettMy friend Julie and her husband James recently vacationed in Barcelona, Spain, where they were robbed while strolling in a lovely park on their way to visit a museum. Now it could be argued that being a tourist in today's world requires one to be defensive, suspicious and most definitely on the lookout. My friends are intelligent human beings, so it's a good bet that they were all three of those things. In the end, though, it didn't matter, because they were set upon by a devilishly devious duo who were both ingenious and depraved in executing the theft. My friend related that as they were walking along, they were suddenly inundated by bird droppings that seemed to rain from the sky. They were soon covered by what looked like viscous, green bird doo. Their reaction, as one might expect, was to be horrified. As they looked around for the offending avian, they quickly found themselves in the presence of what seemed to be a husband and wife pair in their late thirties. The husband, who only spoke Spanish, pointed up at a tree, indicating the source of the droppings. Meanwhile, the wife just "happened" to have copious amounts of tissue with her and began to vigorously wipe down my unsuspecting friends. She very kindly fussed over them for some minutes before pleasantly bidding them goodbye and disappearing, along with her husband.

The truth didn't dawn until later in the day, when Julie and James attempted to buy a pastry. Reaching into his wallet, James discovered he had no money to pay for it. His wallet was, in the words of a local wag, "as empty as a politician's promises."

Once they were back at their hotel and able to examine their clothing, they determined that the bird doo was probably simulated and thrown on them by the amazingly helpful couple they encountered in the park. The whole scheme was quite creative, totally outrageous and positively diabolical.

So what's the aftermath of all this? Well for starters, Julie will be wearing a money belt when she travels. This step makes her safer, but it will be a hassle when she has to pay for something, so she is inconvenienced as a result of the experience. James will henceforward keep his wallet in his front pocket with his hands ready to deflect. This will keep him safer too, although he will probably always feel that he has to be on guard. Which leads to the emotional aftermath, which is more complicated. It involves anger at the conniving couple for their duplicity, and anger at themselves for being hoodwinked; exasperation that people would choose to lead their lives so dishonestly, instead of earning their way; disappointment and disillusionment that they would have such total disregard for their fellow human beings.

The moral of this story is clearly akin to "caveat emptor," which as most know, means "buyer beware." In this case, a slight modification is in order. The moral should read "viator cave,"` "Let the traveler beware!"

You can reach Kay at [email protected]


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