Freeze! Police! Part 2

In the German language, police have a nickname: "Polizei, Dein Freund und Helfer", it literally translates as "police, your friend and helper". I understand in English they are called "the guys in the white hats". I am not going to ask why. OK, I am: white hats? 

Moving on. I promised I was going to tell you about an incident where I needed the help of not only my fellow Swiss police officers, but also the Austrian Polizeibeamten. 

It happened during my coffee bean area. Every month the whole management team flew from Zurich, Switzerland to  Vienna, Austria and spent two days. At the time, Vienna was the only Austrian city with Starbucks stores, and we would visit existing stores and locations for prospective stores, and Juan, the Operations Director and I usually interviewed internal candidates who were up for promotion or external applicants.

One day in 2005 we were talking to Renate, an Assistant Store Manager to find out if she was ready to take on the responsibility to manage her own store. It was around 5pm, the store at Mariahilfer Strasse which is located at the neighbor building of SBUX' little Austrian HQ, was packed, and it was loud. 

After about half an hour we congratulated the young lady to her new job and debriefed with Robert, her District Manager. Then the guys started discussing delayed delivery of frappuccino mix or something else that I wasn't expected to contribute to, so I said I was going to treat myself to a cinnamon roll, "what can I get you guys?" They ordered. 

It had been a full day, my head was going to explode soon, and Starbucks partners are the worst customers because they can't just drink a tall cappuccino, they create their own beverage which contain lots of "extra hot", "additional shot", "hold the syrup", you get the picture. 

While I was listening carefully, maintaining eye contact the whole time, I was rummaging in my purse for my wallet. I couldn't feel it out, so I dumped the whole content on the table. We had been working together long enough for them not to give me funny looks. So a girl carries three different hand lotions, a spare t-shirt, a copy of Cosmopolitan, sunglasses, a miniature umbrella, gummy bears and many other essential items! But no wallet! 


I had it an hour ago! 

I grabbed every single item and put it back into the purse, one after the other. That way, in the end, the wallet had to be the last thing lying on the table. 

But it wasn't.

My forehead was getting sweaty. 

I checked the pockets of my jacket, looked underneath the table.


I didn't believe this!

I dashed to the register and asked if anybody had found a wallet and left it there?

"No, and I hate to tell you this, but if you are sure that you had it, and now it's gone, then it got stolen. It happens. There are gangs working in this city, you wouldn't believe it. Kids even. They play on the ground in restaurants, but in fact they crawl and prey on ladies purses. Let me call the police."

I didn't have time for this sh**!! 
I had to go to the airport and catch my flight home, along with the rest of the team. 

Wait, how was I going to check in at the airport? My ID was in the wallet!!

From then on, every single colleague present did something to help me. 
It was incredible.

Calling the police, calling the Swiss embassy, calling the credit card company, calling the Zurich office and had them fax a copy of my passport (in one of my absolute finest hours I thought it might be a good thing to have this in my personnel file, and it turned out to be a lifesaver) checking surveillance footage which actually revealed quite clearly how the guy sitting behind me, leaned back and fumbled in my purse, and without ever looking at it, removed my wallet and put it into his jacket. 

Geez, it was that dude with the curly hair who smiled and waved at us when he left? What an a******!

It took a long time for two policemen to arrive, and as soon as I told them about my situation, they said they could take my statement (which I would need to give them at their precinct, cause there is a proper time and place for everything), they weren't hopeful to ever catch the guy, and they could do absolutely nothing to help me traveling without ID, I needed to consult airport police.

Ahem, why?

See, here, in the city of Vienna, you are actually in the state of Vienna. The airport, however, is located in the state of Niederöstereich, so that's their jurisdiction.

Naturally. Just what I needed.

Either way: not my job
The five of us jumped into a taxi to the airport. 

As soon as we arrived, I ran to that location where I had been told to go. I was about to experience a cultural shock. 

Imagine a mid-30s business woman working for an American company who had her wallet stolen and needed to catch a flight - having to deal with an imperial-royal civil servant with no typing skills, no sense of humor, slow of comprehension, and absolutely no sense of urgency. Why do they allow people like this to work at the airport? 

It felt like an eternity, but eventually he handed me the document I needed, and I quickly made my way to check-in where a lady beckoned me over "are you Mrs Gerber from the Starbucks party? Mr O told me you'd come. Here's your boarding pass. Run!" 


Conclusion: who are your real friends and helpers? Your coworkers and the customer ground service employees.