Sunday, October 26, 2008

Sometimes Good Follows Bad.

Some sweets for sale in the bakeshop of the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts

When my Thursday Walking group does the Granville Island walk, like nine times out of ten since we love it so much, we usually have lunch at the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts Bakeshop/Cafe. We stopped lunching at the Market itself some time ago as it had become very crowded and noisy in the food fair part, for the market is a very popular place both with tourists and locals.

The little cafe is very reasonable, for example a combination of soup and any of their sandwiches is a special, costing $5.95, with all the food excellent quality because it is a very well respected school for training chefs. Since it is small it is quiet in comparison to the market and if we want to visit there afterwards it is very close by.

Several weeks ago there were six of us at lunch at the tables in the rear of the Cafe. We were surrounded on three sides by a wrought iron railing, one side being adjacent to the passageway from the bakeshop to the school's office, through a door at the end of the passage. It had been raining so we had a jumble of raincoats and wet umbrellas scattered about, some of which were on the floor.

As we got up to leave and gathered our belongings my Turkish friend, T, said where is my bag? We looked at each other. Yes, my bag, it was on the floor under my chair, it's not there. Now she always carried on our walks a very distinctive small ladies backpack, black velvet with embroidered red roses. She doesn't drive and often travels on the bus so this suits her very well.

Of course she had paid for her lunch so it was in her possession then. She checked in the washroom in case by chance she had left it there but it was nowhere. She reported it to the manager and more frantic searching followed. Finally I said, the first thing to do is cancel your credit cards and now the people at the PICA showed us how helpful they could be. The young woman in the office managed to get contact numbers for each of T's three cards with the computer in her office and gave her private a phoneline to use. In the meantime others in the office began to look at the security tapes and others offered my friend, who you can imagine was quite distraught, and myself cups of tea. However first things first. T discovered that one of her credit cards had already been used in the short time since the backpack had been taken. When she tried to notify her cell phone provider she could not remember her own cell phone number which is totally understandable since you usually don't call yourself and she was very upset. It came to her eventually and she reported the theft. Finally we had done all that we could and she phoned her husband who said he would return home and one of the group drove her home.

Later that evening she phoned to say they had changed all the locks and had begun to deal with the unfortunate loss and made arrangements to replace her identity and health care cards etc.

During the week, T kept me up-to-date as the people at the PICA discovered the thief on the tapes, a young man who had entered the bakeshop, remaining for a few moments, then leaving. A little later he returned and worked his way along towards the cafe part and hooked my friend's backpack with his foot, dragging it away with no one noticing and finally he picked it up and departed. A copy of the tape was given to the police but it is very unlikely that he will ever be discovered. My friend took a large box of chocolates along to the office to thank all those who had been so amazingly helpful to her and she gave the young woman in the office a beautiful Turkish shawl. Those people could not have been more wonderful and we really appreciated it.

The following week, after our walk at Granville Island six of us trooped in there again to have lunch. I had asked T, is it OK if we go there? Will it bother you at all? But she said, not at all. In we went to find four people ahead of us and only one young lady instead of the usual two behind the counter. So we waited patiently while she served the others and then she ran into the school kitchen to get someone to come to operate the espresso coffee machine. Then she asked us to tell her what we wanted, all one after another and she started to put it on the one tray. But we want to pay separately we told her. She insisted and we thought, oh she is so busy she thinks this is more efficient, we'll go along with it. Finally, we all had ordered, everything was assembled on several trays and we tried to pay. No, she announced, it is complimentary, for what happened last week.

We thanked her and went to eat our lunch. These people took this situation very seriously since I am sure they don't want to have this occur again but I can only commend them on their swift action and their overall helpfulness and the lovely surprise of a free lunch next time we came in. Although our experiences there before this incident were alway fine, now we are greeted warmly by the staff and we have learned their names. Sometimes something good does come out of something bad.


Sean Jeating said...

Good story.

:) Sometimes even I am able to say what I mean in two words instead of in 50 sentences.

Off topic, jmb: Thanks for your lenience with Sean being so busy with not commenting, these days. :)

CherryPie said...

I have seen something similar happen. It is quite upsetting for all invloved!

Dr.John said...

Wow! What a wonderful place.

Crushed said...

Well, its a good gesture from their point of view. They turned a positive into a negative and where they may have lost customers, they now gain them.

Moggs Tigerpaw said...

Your poor friend. Apart from the upset it is such a bind to have to cancel cards and such.

You have to be so careful. Someone I knew had her bag rifled through at the movies once. It was on the floor between her feet. They must have reached under the seat.

Carver said...

That's a great story JMB. Nice to be left with a good feeling by the kind people where you ate although such a shame about the theft. Your sweets shot has me salivating.

CalumCarr said...

The two sides of life with a happy ending.

Also very considerate of you to check if your friend was OK with going back.

Nunyaa said...

I hope they do find this person, how terrible that scum see fit to steal off anyone let alone innocents out for a day. So infuriating. Hope you and your friend have better days ahead JMB :)

Cathy said...

That was such a good story but still a sad one. It is unfortunate there are these type people in the world that cause so much stress and problems for others. But, thank goodness this is such a well run place that they did so much to help your friend. As for those desserts, I could eat one of each.

Ellee Seymour said...

I'm walking tomorrow with friends and they are coming back to my house to eat afterwards, buttternut squash and ginger soup, following by jacket potatoes with tuna and baked apples.

jams o donnell said...

Itis vry distressing when that happens but the people at PICA were so helpful.

Janice Thomson said...

What a wonderful ending to a rather tragic story - brings back one's faith humanity doesn't it.

jmb said...

Thanks Sean. I think you are often very succinct, too much sometimes.:)
Comments are very welcome but never an obligation, busy or not.

This is the third time for me Cherrypie. Very distressing to the person involved as well as to the companions.

Weren't they Dr John? We will never forget.

There was never any chance of them losing these customers Crushed. But they certainly gained a lot of good PR with their actions.

That is an ugly story too Moggs. Thieves are getting more and more daring it seems.

Carver it is great, well apart from the loss of my friends cards and cash. Lots of great things to eat there.

Well ultimately a happy ending Calum although she did lose a fair amount of cash as well and she had to get new cell phone, etc.

We don't expect to ever see a conclusion to this matter Nunyaa. But we have all learned a good lesson from it.

It is sad that we have to assume everyone is a possible thief and be so vigilant Cathy. The desserts are incredible there.

Ellee, I'd love to go with you too although I think you might be a bit more of a serious walker than I am.

They were in indeed Jams,

Janice it certainly turned the experience into a more positive one in the long run.

Thanks to everyone for visiting and commenting.

sally in norfolk said...

nice to see there still are some nice peole in this world :-)

Liz said...

Not a nice thing to have happened all the same.

Anne in Oxfordshire said...

Sad story, not nice to happen to anyone at all. Lovely that the people in the cafe were extremely helpful and kind.