Monday, August 13, 2007

Attention Aux Pickpockets

I've been conned (several times, once in my own apartment and I even hugged the guy - don't ask) but I've never been pickpocketed. I don't take a crazy amount of precaution when I travel, even when everything about me screams tourist. I'm always pretty aware of what's going on around me though, so I figure that it's ok.

Here's what I learned Sunday morning at 9:30 am on the metro - if you are being pickpocketed, you will have no idea what's happening. There's no being "clever" about it. It just happens and then you're screwed.

I saw a guy being had and I watched the whole thing, not having a clue what was going on. The poor tourist didn't know what was happening, either, but I'll describe it for you.

The train rushes into the station, slows to a stop. The doors open and a man steps on, with a middle-aged tourist couple behind him. He then drops a loud object and bends over, causing a scene by blocking the doorway for this tourist couple standing behind him. By now, the buzzer is going, to let people know the doors are closing. The man blocking the way is being very strange, bent all the way over, like he's playing some weird sport where you play defense by sticking your bum in another guy's crotch. It is all very watchable because it is so bizarre. There are vague thoughts of, "What did this guy drop that is such a big deal?" The tourist couple desperately wants to get out of the way of the doors, which are about to close. All of a sudden, the guy straightens up in a flash and ducks out the doors as they swoosh closed behind him - almost! The male tourist spins on the spot, staring after the man who has slipped out the doors and is now running down a set of stairs, away from the platform. The tourist sticks his hand in the closing doors (aiee!) and begins to pry the doors back open again. His well-heeled wife is staring. Finally, the doors give way and the man shoots out the door, his wife following. You hear him yelling and running down the steps after the pickpocket. The entire thing took about 5 seconds tops. No one communicated with each other, not the pickpocket or the husband to the wife.

Wow. There's no way to be prepared for that but the tourist was pretty savvy. I would have just watched the doors close on my wallet and then boo-hoo my way to the next metro stop.

Afterwards, I tried to re-enact it with my mom. It seems like it would be physically daring to do. Drop something loud, pretend to reach for it, but actually reach into another person's pocket. Or did they quietly undo his watch? Take a ring? Who knows?

For the record, I had no idea what was happening and the train actually had a body in every single seat (where's everyone going on Sunday morning?). Everyone just had that vacant look, even though it was wildly apparent that someone had just been robbed about 1m from where they sat. Does this mean they knew what was happening as it was going on? More likely that they are not into making "OMG" faces like I am.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home