Now this, I have to say, is the sort of thing the British are very bad at dealing with. There's nothing in our background, upbringing, or education that teaches you how to deal with someone who in broad daylight has just stolen your cookies. You know what would happen if this has been South Central Los Angeles. There would have very quickly been gunfire, heliocopters coming in, CNN, you know...But in the end, I did what any red-blooded Englishman would do: I ignored it. And I stared at the newspaper, took a sip of coffee, tried to do a clue in the newspaper, couldn't do anything, and thought, 'What am I going to do?'
In the end I thought, 'Nothing for it, I'll just have to go for it', and I tried very hard not to notice the fact that the packet was already mysteriously opened. I took out a cookie for myself. I thought, "That settled him'. But it hadn't because a moment ot two later he did it again. He took another cookie. Having not mentioned it for the first time, it was somehow even harder to raise the subject the second time around, "Excuse me, I couldn't help but notice...." I mean, it doesn't really work.
We went through the whole packet like this. When I say the whole packet, I mean there were only about eight cookies, but it felt like a lifetime. He took one, I took one, he took one, I took one. Finally, when we got to the end, he stood up and walked away. Well, we exchanged meaningful looks, then he walked away, and I breathed a sigh of relief and sat back.
A moment or two later the train was coming in, so I tossed back the rest of my coffee, stood up, picked up the newspaper, and underneath the newspaper were my cookies. The thing I like particularly about this story is the sensation that somewhere in England there has been wandering around for the last quarter-century a perfectly ordinary guy who's had the same exact story, only he doesn't have the punch line.