Today is Monday. It took me a bit of mental anguish to decide I needed to head out to hear the free lunchtime concert at a church near home: I finally decided I should go, to get out of the house, see the inside of this church on Östermalmstorg that I pass all the time, hear some music, and get some sunshine. The sunshine was so, so, so, so nice. I wore a spring-weight wool coat, but stripped down to a t-shirt as I walked in the sunshine.
The concert was crazy, a bit: the organ in Hedvig Eleonora‘s church can make the pews shake. And while today’s music contained moments of melodious beauty, I found it discordant in the end. I mused for a while on how the physics of sound allowed humans to build machines to mimic the voice of God — thunderous, earthshaking — while I looked at the handful of other listeners.
Few people go to church here, in general. And on a sunny day like today, only six or seven had come to listen to the music. I myself am not Christian, so this was not my place of worship. Instead, I felt a bit like a tourist, a lurker. I decided I don’t like organ music, or at least, I didn’t today — it didn’t feel like praise of anything but noise. So I was happy to get out into the sun again.
And then, on my way home, I passed this:
Look at those luscious avocados. These two trays are stacked in front of a deli that is closed on Mondays. Today is Monday. The sun is beating down on them, warming the delicate green flesh inside. Across the street is a grocery, where these beautiful fruits cost at least 20 SEK (about $3) for two, but most likely more. They generally cost twice that for one, and travel from Israel, Chile, all over to get here (and at home in California, the trees cost thousands of dollars, and are worth stealing).
Avocados are money. And look at that stack of money, just sitting there on the street, untouched. How funny to come from a house of God, having sat under the sculpture of the ten commandments, and listened to sacred music, only to be faced by MASSIVE TEMPTATION.
I love avocados. You might know that about me already. Tell me, gentle reader: what would you have done? I could have taken one, or taken all, no one would have blinked.
Instead, I called the phone number on the delivery sheet, and asked: hey, did you know that the deli you delivered to today is *closed* on Mondays? Says so on the sign. And these two crates of avocados are awfully tempting. I know, because I’m tempted to take them!
And the person at the other end of the line said they would contact the store immediately. I stood there for a moment, after disconnecting from the call, and observed passersby from a few meters away: Would someone take the crates? Would anyone even look at them?
I stayed for 5 minutes, maybe, tops. No one took a second glance. Ten people walked by, talking on their phones, looking at the store windows, at each other. Maybe one person looked at the stack of avocados and kept walking by without slowing down.
I contemplated grabbing an avocado, but instead walked away, pondering. This neighborhood, Östermalm, is pretty posh. No one here needs to steal anything. They can afford to buy the 1,000-kronor chairs in the shop windows, or the twee expensive children’s clothing that costs more than what I spend on my own adult-sized fare. So no wonder no one was tempted.
But oh my word, AVOCADOS. On the street! Free for the taking! On the other hand, so was the Trek bike I saw (ok ok, it was locked to itself, but still, why would that stop a determined bicycle thief?). And the untouched green gold didn’t jibe with the spate of news stories last year, about a rash of iPhone thefts on the street here (or not, if you read the Swedish print). Or the jewelry store thefts, where in at least one case, people drove a vehicle into the plate glass windows and made off with what they could.
Ok ok, obviously, no one on the street here in Östermalm but me thinks that good avocados are worth gold. (Ah me. Maybe I need a 12-step program?) Or maybe it’s just that, church-going or not, people are generally pretty moral in their behavior. (At least one person looked at me funny, walking down the street with church literature in my hands.)
I think the same held true in Australia, or at least I got that feeling while we were there that I could leave something, say, in the swimming pool locker room and come back to find it in a little while (with the exception of their dumpster diving culture). I would not have that feeling in New York City, anywhere. I think that anonymity, particularly in a big packed city, can give a sense of carte blanche to individuals, to act in bad faith against others.
So, back to those luscious street-stacked avocados: I hope the crates were still there when the store folks came to get them. I left empty-handed, but the company has my mobile number and could call me and I suppose accuse me if they are gone, with good reason. Maybe I should have hung around a bit longer… maybe I would have gotten an avocado for my Good Samaritan-ism!