My father was always something of a Clark Griswold when it came to family vacations. He used to plan each trip down to the very last detail, but each time, something went horribly wrong.
For example, one time our luggage got unloaded from the airport bus outside the wrong hotel in Greece, and we had to spend hours driving around in a taxi searching for it. Or how about when he decided we would all go camping – my mother was in charge of map reading, but after a few hours we’d become horribly lost, and it was getting dark. Soon we realized the problem – with every road turn, my mom had turned the map.
A La Rambla Stroll Turns Bad
By far the most hilarious mishap happened in Barcelona. We’d only been there a day, and after an amazing lunch of traditional Catalonian tapas, the family –my mother, father, older sister, and I – was enjoying a stroll down La Rambla, the main tourist street in the city. Outside one of the little tourist shops, my mom stopped to look at some postcards, and just then, a man snatched her bag and ran off down the street. Unfortunately for the thief, he’d picked the wrong man’s wife.
My dad, a cop, pelted after him – and he is nothing if not relentless. The great thing about La Rambla is that it slopes downwards towards the sea, so we could see the majority of what happened as we tried to keep up.
Catching the Thief – But Which One?
My dad caught up with the thief easily enough a hundred yards or so away, and the pair of them went crashing into a table outside a restaurant. This attracted the attention of a small crowd, who all witnessed my father beat the crap out of this little guy and snatch the bag back.
Unfortunately, that’s when the police decided to show up. La Rambla is a notorious hangout for pickpockets and muggers, so there are usually a few officers snooping around.
As the rest of us arrived on the scene, Dad was being brutally handcuffed and dragged away. The onlookers, it transpired, had made my dad out as the villain in the ordeal, and one look at the little guy with the bloody nose and cut lip seemed to confirm this.
It Gets Worse
Unbelievably, the police then proceeded to give my mother’s bag back to the thief. With that, my mother started screaming at the cops – who now looked as though they wanted to arrest her too – and my sister, the only one in the family who could speak a little Spanish, confronted the police and tried to explain what had happened.
Thankfully, my sister’s pidgin Spanish seemed to work on the cops, and with lots of gesturing and pointing, an inkling of what had happened started to dawn on them, so they decided to search the bag.
The Embarrassing Proof
They pulled out the only things my mother kept in there – lipstick, a purse, a clean change of underwear, and enough tampons to fuel a menstruating army. Of course, that was embarrassing, but you never know what is in a bag or backpack from my family I’ve learned!
With a lot of ‘Gracias!’ from the whole family, the police gave my Mom (now sporting a very red face) her bag back, and uncuffed my dad. The little thief (who had tried to sneak away but was caught by one of the cops) was cuffed, and was dragged away, while screaming and pointing at my dad.
Believe it or not, my dad still hasn’t given up the habit of charging after thieves when he sees them, but fortunately, his Barcelona experience was the only time it ended up badly for him!