Saturday, August 21, 2010

Show me the way to go home. I'm tired and I want to go to bed...

As promised, here is the tale of the rest of our very long day, as told by Mike. He was concerned and aggravated enough to post online on Lonely Planet's Thorntree forum. It was the last nail in the coffin, as far as we were concerned, as to our overall feelings about Athens.

(all photos were taken the day before this all happened...why they didn't get us then must have been nothing more than luck!)

"I was the victim of a pickpocket on the Athens Metro. I should have recognized what was happening, but was focusing on my kids (I was carrying my 4-year old). The platform was crowded, but the train was not, so I was appalled at how rude these men were, shoving aggressively past us to get to seats ahead of us, only to get off at the next stop.

One man, stood, seemingly absent-minded, blocking the way to a group of empty seats, a second, large man shoved rudely past me, to get to an empty seat, and a third man followed in the gap cleared by the large man. All three got off at the next stop.

It was two stops later that I realized that my wallet was gone, and the whole scene replayed in my mind, clear as day. Everything was so obvious in retrospect!

I was pretty lucky - only about 40 euro, credit cards (reported stolen the moment I realized what had happened), and drivers license.

Cheap lesson.

Anyway, I elected not to report the incident to the police. It was the last day of our vacation, and I didn't think there was any thing the police could (or would) do, and assumed I would spend a significant amount of time in a police station for no benefit.

My question is: what you think of my decision not to file a police report. Would it have done any good?"

Overwhelming response from the forum: nope.

What Mike didn't post was that he had been furious at the way he was manhandled on the train before he realised he'd been robbed, and was openly and uncharacteristically expressing his displeasure, much to my dismay, and I, not realising how manhandled he'd been, was trying to hush him so as not to offend anyone.

As soon as we realised that his wallet was gone (from his front velcroed shut pants pocket!) he and I turned the kids over to the other adults in our party, got off the train, fuming, back on in the other direction and to the stop where the pickpockets had gotten off.

Not to try to find them, but, with any luck, to find his wallet in a garbage can, cash and (immediately-cancelled, thank goodness for cell phones!) credit cards undoubtedly removed, but there was a chance that his Washington State and United Arab Emirates driver's licenses might have been left behind. We thought it was worth a try as they would be a real pain for us to replace.

So we sorted through garbage cans with plastic bags on our hands, trying not to look like homeless people. There are few things funner than going through garbage in a foreign country when you're supposed to be on vacation, folks.

There were so many cans it turned out to be an impossible task. I even looked in the shaded areas beneath shrubbery in a nearby park, and found another black leather wallet emptied of its contents; alas, not Mike's. The sun was going down and being out after dark was asking for more trouble, so we shook our heads and got on the train back to Terry's house.

Of course, we hadn't taken any especial notice of which station she lived at. since we had been traveling with her...

The Mourning Athena

(There is a postscript to this story. A month later more than 50 people were arrested, including a security guard for the Athens Metro, for being part of an extensive, and sometimes vicious organised ring of pickpockets. A month too late for us, but satisfying nevertheless.)


Julia said...

So did you keep the other black wallet? Too bad about all your awful experiences with people taking advantage of other people, but at least the suckers got caught eventually. It soothes the insult dealt with the injury.

AKBrady said...

Ack. Rome is just as bad. I did, however, enjoy the picture of Mike holding Thomas by the wrists. I think I shall try that sometime during a meltdown of the five year-old type.

Natalie said...

I cannot imagine wanting to live in a place where you expected people to be trying to steal from you every day! That's not living!

Julia: I left the wallet on top of a ledge where it could be easily seen. There were so many homeless looking through the garbage, somebody is going to get and use it. (There was one homeless man with quite the collection of lightly used women's purses -I assume gathered from rubbish bins after being discarded by thieves.)

Erin: At least I didn't (as far as I know!) have to worry about having my purse razored off my arm by a passing motorist. Eeech!
Posting, I worried about the apparent child-abuse-esque appearance of that photo, (no kids were harmed in the making of this blog) but from a strictly parenting point of view, I thought it was damned funny and that other parents who had ever been on vacation with a sugared-up child would think so too.

Will & Cheyenne said...

Those pictures of Mike holding your son are SO FUNNY!!

Saw Mike is playing a rball tourney next month! Cool!