On the agenda at the beginning of this day in Florence was a trip to the laundromat. As it happened, there was one just down the street from where we were staying. So before going to breakfast at Caffè Il Sole, we took our bag of dirty clothes down the street to try our luck with the machines.
On our way, we came across a man on a phone pulling a suitcase holding a suit and several shirts over his shoulder. Between the wall of the building and the phalanx of scooters parked along the curb, there was not enough room for all of us. So we waited at the corner. He glanced up and mumbled his thanks and quickly disappeared around the corner.
We took a few more steps, and then we saw a pair of black pants on the sidewalk. They must have fallen from the load he was carrying. I picked them up and ran back, but he was nowhere to be seen. He certainly couldn’t have made it all the way down the block, it had been only a few moments. I turned back to see if he had doubled back. And then across the street I saw an open doorway. He must have gone in there.
So I trotted across the street and peered into the darkness. There was a vestibule with a hallway and stairs that went up. I took a half step in but could see no one.
At that moment, I heard some yelling back on the street. I turned to see what the commotion was. There was an older woman walking toward me in a state of some agitation. And she was looking at me wagging her finger and waving her hand, clearly telling me to get out of that doorway where I had no business.
She spoke Italian. I do not. I tried to explain, pointing to the black pants I was carrying and trying to tell some kind of sign language story of a man walking down the street and… Well it was hopeless. She was angry with me, and clearly I was not going to find the guy at this point. So I walked back to the corner followed by the woman’s stares, and I folded the pants over a bike rack, thinking that maybe the guy would eventually discover that his pants were missing and, retracing his steps, he might find them there.
Later, after our clothes were washed and dried, we walked back from the laundromat past that corner again. The pants were gone.
Sadly, I have no way of discovering their disposition. Perhaps the man did retrace his steps and find his pants. Or maybe the woman took them. Or maybe someone else had wandered by and noticed a fine pair of black pants and took them. In any event, the lost pants had clearly been found.