Yesterday I had an illegal weapon confiscated from me at the British Library's bag check.
"Ma'am, is this pepper spray?"
"I'm going to have to take this from you."
"Can I get it back when I leave?"
"Ma'am, did you know that if the police caught you with this on the street that you would be arrested and put in jail?"
"Pepper spray is illegal in the UK. I'm going to have to take your name and address."
Does this mean I have a criminal record in the UK? If so, I blame airport security. They stopped to search my carryon after they screened it, but it turns out they were only looking for plyers and a carton of yogurt (which were stuck in my bag in the frenzy of moving out of an apartment and flying to London in the same morning.) They didn't find the pepper spray, though. And now I will have a criminal record. In the words of Michael Scott: yeesh.
After I left the British Library I helped an old lady cross the street. That was redeeming and I didn't feel so much like a criminal anymore. Afterwards I had some time before church and stopped by Starbucks where I had another odd situation. I smiled at a stranger (will never do that again) and he returned it too enthusiastically. He proceeded to move to the couch next to me and for ten minutes he talked about nokia phones, the war in Iraq, grace kelly, religion, the death of his mom and girlfriend from cancer, and about the strange affinity he feels with his "cousins" across the pond. He then proceeded to ask when he could see me again and if I would like his number. And he was about 50.
London life is never boring.