Like all unfortunate events, there was a silver lining in there somewhere. If I hadn't had my wallet stolen that day, I would never have:
- Seen how calm and competent my elder Frenchling can be. She had the presence of mind to calm her mother down and then grab the first soldier she saw (there are patrols in the station) and ask what to do.
- Met three very professional and helpful soldiers who took the time to walk us personally up to the nearest police station.
- Talked with a very nice policewoman at the La Defense police station who gave me the list of all the information I would need and advised me to go to the police station in Versailles.
- Visited the police station in Versailles where another very charming and quite funny policewoman took down my statement and did her best to make me feel better. (And, yes, I was feeling like the world's biggest imbecile.)
- Then I went to the Prefecture this morning to report the loss. Stood in line, talked with other foreigners, read the Declaration of the Rights of Man that was posted on the wall, and when I finally arrived at the window, I was taken care of with sympathy and efficiency.
Over the weekend I had a lot of time to reflect on what happened and I've decided that the universe is sending me a sign. I am convinced that the universe does not want me to be a resident of the French Republic, it wants me to become a citizen.
When I was on the train platform staring at the empty space where my wallet had been, I realized that the only thing in it that I really cared about was my residency card - the proof that I live and work and have friends and family here. It was the only official evidence I had that I belong and I feel its loss keenly.
To the above, I add all the help and kindness of strangers over the weekend and my conclusion is this:
It is high time I asked to join this strange tribe.