We’re now back from Beaune, safe and sound. It was a long drive, mostly consisting of foggy, frosty weather. We had no incidents with any criminals at rest stops and our new rear tires held up perfectly.
I got into one of my usual spats again last night. This time, it was on RfM, where I related the tale of what happened to us in Beaune. A chap who used to be more prolific than he is now and served a mission in France chastised me for singling out Roma people as a possible culprit of our tire slashing. He was backed up by a very intelligent and articulate poster who claims to enjoy my posts, but was also uncomfortable that I had specified Roma.
I have to admit, I was a bit put out by being called out, yet again, for being “racist”. But then, I wasn’t feeling very well last night. I felt like I was coming down with a cold. My nose was running like a faucet; I was sneezing; and I had a nagging cough. I actually feel a lot better today. Maybe there was something in that second lodging that I was allergic to.
Anyway… since I brought up the topic of racism once again and it’s my habit to explain these things, let me reiterate… I don’t know for certain that the guys who popped our tire were Roma. They could have been Mexicans. They could have been Russians. They could have been Martians, for all I know. I have no idea. We only mentioned Roma because that was what our hosts and the police told us– that they had been perpetrating a lot of these types of crimes in the area. Also, we’ve run into them fairly frequently here in Germany and elsewhere.
I don’t have anything personal against specific Roma individuals or even Romas as a group. I certainly don’t hate them or even give much thought to them, outside of the few times we’ve run into them out and about in Europe. Roma are also not the only “traveling” groups in Europe that are known for their nomadic lifestyles and occasional forays into petty crime. Initially, I was kind of irritated that what was supposed to be a somewhat happy post turned south. But then the post got interesting.
In fact, one guy even made it on topic by comparing the LDS church to marauding bands of crooks. Most Mormons are white people, and yet the church has been in the news for bilking 100 billion dollars from its members. The poster asked how much we lost to the swarthy tire poppers. At this point, we’re at about $1500, if you count the cost of the two brand new tires– since we couldn’t mix and match brands per French law– the extra night in the hotel last night, the 25 euro patch on the damaged tire, extra food, and two days of work that Bill missed due to this mess. We don’t know if we got snow tires or all purpose tires. If we got snow tires, we’re going to have to replace them again in the spring. And we also have to get the car realigned, which will add to the total. It’s nothing to sneeze at, although it’s not 100 billion dollars.
Even though we lost some money that, only a few years ago, would have devastated us, we realize that we were very fortunate. A lot of people who get snared in this type of scam wind up losing their valuables… credit cards, identification, passports, and whatever’s in their luggage or purses, not to mention our sense of personal safety and peace. These guys didn’t manage to steal from us, so really what their crime amounted to was simple vandalism. I don’t blame France for this at all. It could have happened anywhere and could have been perpetuated by anyone. But local officials specified Roma, which is why we mentioned that they were most likely the culprit.
We still had a good time in Beaune and it really charmed us on many levels. The people were very good to us, especially the owners of both of the lodgings where we stayed. They welcomed Arran wholeheartedly, which is always a nice thing when we’re traveling with our canine kids. I would like to go back there, explore some “vin caves”, eat some local food, and see more of the city. Our true crime disaster made actually seeing Beaune a bit difficult, although we saw more of it last night, when we moved to a new lodging venue. It really is a cool town. I’d love to go back again when the weather is better and we can put Arran up in the dog pension.
I don’t think I’m any more racist than the next person… and I do think that everyone is a little bit racist. Everyone judges, and everyone notices differences in others. It’s not always a bad thing, since that can keep you out of trouble. If you’re too open-minded and unsuspicious, you run more of a risk of being taken advantage of. I don’t hate Roma people or others who frequent the areas around cathedrals in major European cities… but I also know not to take a rose or a sprig of rosemary from a stranger as a gesture of friendship. Why? Because those are two well-known scams in which unscrupulous folks separate people from their money. There is no crime in protecting yourself, even if it means you look racist. I’d rather look racist than be a crime victim.
So those are my thoughts on this last blog post of 2019. I hope everyone has a happy new year– health, wealth, good fortune, lots of love, and all the other shit people wish on each other on New Year’s Eve. I don’t tend to get super excited about New Year’s. Bill and I are also both pretty tired… and we haven’t even unwrapped our Christmas gifts yet. But I know there will be maniac Germans setting off fireworks tonight, so I’m sure I’ll be awake for the new year. Wish us luck!