Big bold black letters warned in English to beware of pick pockets. That should have been a sign. Actually it was a sign, plastered tight to the wall of a subway station in Paris. We were waiting for the train to take us and our long time friends Super Mario and Brenda to Mont Marte where we would stop for lunch in the city where every restaurant seems to be a good choice.
Speaking of signs, I didn’t realize until too late that I was dressed in an outfit that screamed “American tourist.” All that was missing was a Post-it on my back that said,”Kick me!”
I was wearing a Ben and Jerrie’s gimmee cap with a black and white cow hide design, a crisply starched and pressed button front shirt… Buns likes me to look “sharp” especially when we are traveling… I wore a pair of too-short-for-you but just-right-for-me cargo shorts and, now that I am thinking about it I’m embarrassed to even mention tall-top athletic socks and white leather tennis shoes.
The train arrived and the four of us stepped aboard along with a few other mostly tourists. I was last except for one seedy Frenchman that I knew was a Frenchman the same way he knew I was American.
Frenchie bumped me. I figured it was just crowded and this was the big city.
Frenchie bumped me again.
I thought, “Friendly sort.”
For some reason I was compelled to check the Velcro-flapped pocket on the front of my cargo shorts…. Where I kept my wallet.
Funny, I had just read The Gift of Fear which advised to trust your intuition. Intuition says the author is un-processed data that your brain reads in an instant and sends a signal warning that something is not quite right.
My wallet was gone.
I patted my empty pocket to verify.
I thought of the sign in the subway station.
I looked at Frenchie and wondered why he was wearing a pullover shirt but carrying a sport coat over his wrist? I thought again, sport coats and pullover shirts, do they go together?
I thought “You know this guy just picked your pocket and if you don’t act right now this train is going to stop at in a matter of seconds, he’s going to get off, and you are going to regret it forever.
I’ll break here to say my intuition was good. Otherwise I would be finishing this story from a French jail.
I grabbed Frenchie by his arms.
“empty your pockets!” I left absolutely no room for noncompliance. An even seedier guy standing nearby looked away. Under my breath I threatened him too. Why not?
“If he doesn’t have my wallet you’re next.” I put Seedy on hold and returned my attention to my primary suspect. I squeezed his arms a little harder as if that would improve his English.
“No, no English.” Frenchie wasn’t trying hard enough to suit me.
“Sorry pal, this might be a good time to learn.’
“Look!” He cried out. His command of English had suddenly improved. I guess it was a miracle. Frenchie pointed to my wallet on the subway car floor.
I scooped it up, did a quick inventory, and said, “You’re getting off at the next stop or you’re a dead man.” Where do I get this stuff?
About this time Buns figured that something had gone very wrong and so she attempted to rally other tourists to come to my aid. I don’t know why she said what she said but here’s what she said.
“He (I’m assuming Frenchie,)” doesn’t know he’s dealing with a kick ass Texan.
For whatever reason I thought she said “Fat ass Texan, which would have been more accurate but was nonetheless not at all appreciated. So I shot her the bad eye.
My next awareness was of the brakes engaging and Frenchie and his Seedy pal making a hurried exit. Maybe to turn themselves in in exchange for protection from a Fat Ass Texan. Or maybe not.
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