When we were little, my sister and I were notorious for our mischief. We weren’t desperate, like many in these trouble financial times are, but simply … curious and maybe bored—but certainly not desperate.
One day, we decided we needed a ball. Didn’t really matter what color it was, or size, but if it didn’t bounce, we would have none of it.
And so, we hatched a plan. And by “we,” I of course mean my sister, since women, even when they’re young, have that curious combination of being devious and clever at the same time.
One bright afternoon, we innocently strolled into Arthur Drug, the local convenience store, on a quick errand for Aunt Jemima’s 135th birthday (yes, she’s still alive). We walked in innocent and happy, a youthful spring in our steps … and planned on walking out masters of the world.
My sister, ever the leader, quickly spotted the best bouncy ball in the store, stuffed it into her pocket, and made for the exit, strolling beside our mother. Our childhood would survive! We smelled fresh air, tasted the sunlight on our cheeks and dreamt of hours of bouncy bliss … until the alarm went off, the manager of the convenient store showed up and our mother turned on us with malice in her eyes. Suffice to say, we were still sore days later and we were now personally acquainted with the local police force.
Why should I care? Well, to get back to everyone’s favorite topic (the financial crisis, of course), things have changed a little since my sister and I were little. You see, there’s a bit of a tightening of the belts going on these days. We’re in the middle of an economic crisis the likes of which haven’t been seen since … well, Fidel Castro wasn’t even in charge of Cuba back then, and he’s still around today. Nevertheless, the crisis is real and serious, and people might actually not be able to survive (unless they get as clever as my sister, that is).
And that’s just what one desperate Belgian did. He ripped off our brilliant, 5-year-old-logic-proof plan. This copycat Belgian lives in Brussels, the seat of the European Parliament. The EU Parliament building itself, remarkably, is quite similar to our old convenience store, albeit on a kind of European scale (except Parliament doesn’t really sell anything useful, like bouncy balls … or do anything useful either, for that matter).
Our Belgian decided that he needed a “personal stimulus package,” much like my sister and I decided we needed a bouncy ball, and that the EU presented him with quite the opportunity for profit in these troubled economic times. The Europeans want a stimulus package too, you know. In he went, like my sister and I, filled with dreams of riches, plunder and enough cash to buy truckloads of bouncy balls … Our brave Belgian robber simply walked into the European Parliament building and stuffed 50,000 Euros into a bag. I guess he did it in a slightly classier manner than my sister and I, using a bag and all, but to be fair, our bouncy ball was slightly more compact than 50,000 Euros. Then again, it’s a little bit more impressive to try and rob the European
Parliament than the Arthur Drug Store in Connecticut.
Now, you might expect the security at the EU Parliament building to be a little more intense than that of the convenience store my sister and I attempted to rob. Well, you’d be wrong. Not only did the robber grab 50,000 Euros but he got away scot-free (thanks to our glorious example, clearly) with his money and has not been caught since.
In these desperate times, it was quite heartening to see some resourceful individuals are still out there, doing their best to keep old traditions around, like my sister and I back in the day.
EU citizens everywhere, however, were in uproar over this blatant repeat event— although, it’s a fair bet they weren’t upset the man got away with all that money, only that they didn’t think of extracting this more “personal” kind of stimulus package sooner. Too bad America keeps its money in Fort Knox and not at Congress; otherwise, I’d be calling my sister right about now.
And, for the record, we never did get that ball.