Editor's Note: This is your 42nd known stopped pick-pocket in Paris!
Dear Clothing Arts,
My wife and I went to Europe for the first time. Our plan was to spend a month travelling around to Zurich, Lucerne, Paris, Rome, and London. From these main cities we took lots of side trips. Almost all travel was on public transit, including planes, trains, trams, buses, boats and ferries.
We had been successful on the transit in Switzerland the first week and were a little more confident with each trip. We then took the high speed train (pushing 300 kpm) to Paris and managed to make all the connections to the hotel, gaining confidence. On one of the first outing's we headed into the underground maze at Gare de Lyon station with a train number and a destination towards the Eiffel Tower.
As you deal with the ticket kiosk, entry gates, multiple turns and stairways, you loose your sense of direction. We made it to the train platform, however it is very confusing as to which way you need to catch the train. You are by several tracks, the trains come and go in both directions, there are lots of stops listed but you do not know any of them, so that does not help. I knew we needed to go East, but there were no directions listed.
We had discussed the need to appear like a local, to minimize risk, but at this point we were obviously tourists. My wife noticed a train attendant and heads over to ask for help. I followed behind and this must have alerted the team of pick-pockets nearby that we were the easy mark. Pre occupied and confused. The attendant indicated that she spoke no English, and might have been part of the pick pocket team. It was not crowded and no one was close to me at this point. Then came the collision from behind, which knocked me forward, and I think the thief even grabbed me to appear he was keeping me from falling down as he tried to lift my wallet. Timming his apology immediately to make it seem like an accident.
My mind raced. It went into hyper mode. There was no one around me?? How could someone run into me with that much force?? Where did they come from?? I spun around in a split second to face a man who was about a head taller then me, and a crowd of about 4 surrounding him.
Where did these people come from?? Why were they close to me when the station was not crowded by us?? We were not in a line?? PICK POCKETS, THIEFS, GANG?.
While spinning, I felt for my wallet, and felt the lump. My other pockets were also secured, but I had little in them. I immediately began preparations for a fight. Concentrate on the eyes of the attacker, looking right thru him so my vision could monitor the others looking for movement, move in closer to see his reaction. My mind flashed with the thought of being in a French jail for an assault charge, he was bigger and younger than me, he had back up. Should I start swinging, screaming, run, what about my wife? My eyes were about 18 inches from his. What I saw was failure and surprise. His fellow thief's were beginning to disperse and hide their faces. I moved slightly forward and he took off behind them. My Clothing Arts pick-pocket pants saved the day!
Checking my pocket, he got by the first line of defense but not the zipper. It was slightly open so that is what he wanted, but he could not finish the job. The other thief's were probably waiting to get the wallet after he lifted it from me. If he would have got it and passed it off, one of them would have got away with it, and he would have appeared innocent. This was a team, women and men, they were good, I hate to think what would have happened had my wallet been gone when I checked for it. I hope it ruined their day, but in all reality, they most likely ruined the day for someone else.
Those pants paid for themselves, several times over!
The rest of the trip had no additional in your face events..... but as much as we were out their at all the sites, I am sure they were there. Just bought some new Clothing Arts shorts for the next trip.
- Mark R from Eugene, Oregon