Philadelphia advertises itself as "the city that
loves you back." As much as I love Paris, it sure doesnt seem to
love me back which prompts another story that required a trip to a
Lynn had two days of meetings in Versailles,
France. Versailles, once the home to King Louis, is a near suburb of
Paris. When Lynn asked if I wanted to accompany her (this time by
train!), I thought sure. Two days in Paris for the price of a train
ticket. Such a deal.
We got off Thalys, the high-speed train from the
Netherlands, and changed to the Paris Metro for a few stops to a
regional rail station where we could catch the train to Versailles.
Pulling a small suitcase on which was mounted Lynns computer and
lugging my own backpack, I looked like Mr. Tourist from America, Im
sure. The train pulled into the station and we walked forward a few
feet to the door from which people were disembarking. We were
standing facing the direction the train was going, perpendicular to
the door. The train was about six inches from my right shoulder and
Lynn was at my left shoulder. The handle of the suitcase was in my
right hand slightly behind me.
Everyone who was getting off was now off and as I
started to lift the suitcase, some kid came up on my right to pass
me getting in. He kind of shoved me to the left a little and stepped
over the suitcase. "What the hell is this?" I thought. I gave him
very little room but he was small enough to jump ahead. He went up
the steps of the train and turned around. "What the hell is he
doing?" I thought. I pulled the suitcase in front of me and started
to lift it with both hands as Lynn, still on my left, walked up the
steps. With the suitcase in front of me and this person still
standing there, he made a half-hearted attempt to help me lift the
suitcase which I neither needed nor wanted. "What? Is he now trying
to make amends for being a schmuck?" I thought. He never actually
gave me any assistance but as soon as I had both feet on the train,
he went around me on the other side and got off the train. "What the
hell was that all about?" I wondered and I took my seat next to
Lynn. This whole thing lasted about ten seconds and she was unaware
I took off my coat, got situated, and made sure
that the next stop was what it was supposed to be if we were going
in the right direction. Then I started to tell Lynn what had
happened and as I did, I glanced at my pocket and knew instantly
that I had been robbed. I was wearing cargo pants and my wallet was
in the lower right side pocket which I dutifully keep snapped shut
with both snaps. As aware as I am of pickpockets, especially in the
Paris Metro, this little son of a bitch distracted me for just a
moment while a second (and I learned later perhaps a third or more)
accomplice hit my pocket as I lifted the suitcase and the first perp
We did a quick inventory of what I was carrying.
Zero cash. Good. I hardly ever carry much cash. My Dutch Mastercard.
Bad. Lynn had her card and the phone number to report stolen cards
was on it so we called immediately which was no more than ten
minutes after the incident. It had already been used to charge 250
worth of something. This would be the end of that. My debit card.
Bad. This is supposed to be useless without a pin but these creeps
were able to use it for something called Mondial Football, whatever
that is, for 135. The card also has a chip in it thats used almost
everywhere in the Netherlands. One can use the chip at parking
meters, to buy a candy bar, .50 worth of hardware, anything, and
this is why I hardly ever carry cash. The perp cant use it but its
as if I burned a 50 bill; I dont have it and neither does anyone
Also in the wallet was my Dutch Rail discount
card but it was a temporary one waiting for the new permanent one,
so this doesnt matter. My Dutch residence card was there which will
probably be a bureaucratic nightmare to replace and cost way more
than it should. But worst of all is that I lost eight or ten
pictures I carry of my boys, some of which were from when they were
early in single digits, about 25 years ago.
The good thing was because of a decision I made
long ago: I carry no American items no credit cards, no drivers
license, nothing, because theres no need for any of them here and
it opens them up to exposure of this sort.
The bank said I should file a police report and
could even do that with the police in Delft. That didnt make a
whole lot of sense so on the day I was supposed to be spending
enjoying the sights and sounds of Paris, I went to another police
station in the district of the scene of the crime, and spent almost
an hour filling out forms and answering questions.
So what did I learn? Im not sure. I carry my
passport and large amounts of cash (it happens sometimes) in an
unpickpocketable place. The problem is that its also very
inconvenient for me to reach. Because its winter, carrying things
above the waist and inside a zipped coat is good, but what does one
do in summer? I carry a camera that is in a zippered pouch that
attaches to my belt through a loop. The police said thats not a
good idea. The pouch is unable to be removed but the police said
they are nimble enough to unzip the case!
Because I like to keep these pieces "G" rated and
available to the whole family, let me say that I hope this kid and
his friends ingest fecal material and expire. I really mean that. No
I dont. Well, I mean the first part but not the second. Im opposed
to the death penalty and dont suppose they deserve the death
penalty for pickpocketing me. But I do mean this: I could cheerfully
put my fist through their faces, draw some blood, and break a few
teeth. That would make me happy. And two to five in the big house
would be okay, too.
See all my pictures of Versailles and
of Paris. No pictures of
pickpockets or police stations, though!
See a video from Versailles.