11 Jun2006

pick1

Forewarned is forearmed. Everyone I spoke to before the trip to Europe, and tons of concerned Marketmanila readers emailed to say “watch out for pickpockets…mostly the gypsies.” So I was on heightened alert. I briefed by wife (who has been pick pocketed twice before) and my daughter, whose eyes grew ever larger as I described what pickpockets did for a living. We photocopied all of our cards and travel documents and left copies in Manila with emergency numbers in case we needed our cards replaced. I brought several wallets so that I could decide what would best work with whatever I was wearing. I took out 90% of the plastic, IDs, loyalty cards in my wallets and left them in Manila. Anytime I went out in Europe, I took only two credit cards, an I.D. and cash. And my cash was distributed throughout my pockets and my wallet was always in my front pocket. We remained highly vigilant, particularly in heavily touristy areas and for the first 10 days or so we had absolutely no untoward incidents or even close calls…

But let me step back for a minute and explain the pigeons. For some reason, in a previous life, perhaps, my wife and daughter had it out with pigeons. So it seems that EVERY time we take a foreign trip, the pigeons email each other and prepare for my wife and daugther’s imminent arrival. They load up with poop and without fail take a nice big fat dump on either my wife or daughter or both. It never fails. They have been pooped on in Melbourne, New York, Paris, etc. So when we got to Barcelona and it was apparently a pigeon haven, I was certain the pattern would not be broken. One day, while on a hop-on hop-off Bus Turistic, we were sitting on the upper deck and I saw lots of pigeons flying around and almost in slow motion, something like segments of “Kill Bill” or “Charlie’s Angels,” I saw a pigeon take a dump in flight and the blob hurtled ever closer headed for my wife when it splatted well and good on MY HEAD!!! Needless to say, the Kid couldn’t stop laughing and my sparse hair cover did little to prevent the stuff from lodging firmly on my scalp. Let’s just say I don’t like pigeons…good reason to eat more of them…heehee. I actually heard that feeding them bread gives them constipation. Next time I’ll buy all the old bread the neighborhood bakeries have to offer and plug them up for weeks. Perhpas a batch of expired immodium crushed and sprinkled with birdseed would be good too…

So back to the main story. One day, we decided to head out to the suburbs of Barcelona and visited the Monasterio de Pedraldes, a 13th century monastery with phenomenal architecture, interesting art and a nice courtyard. Before entering, we noticed the place was quite deserted and I asked my family to pose near a tree for a photograph. The day was not quite cold and not hot, so my wife had put on a nice wool jacket that we purchased from the last season of clothing designed by the legendary Yves Saint Laurent before he retired several years ago. Needless to say, it was a special piece. Suddenly, something fell on her head and a blob of poopy looking substance was on her shoulder. Pigeon poop! We moved away from the tree, more poop straffed us like a squadron of kamikaze pigeons were circling above and we were rather frantic. Two nice looking folks walked up, pulled out Kleenex, started helping us wipe it off. But oddly, I noticed there was just TOO MUCH poop, that it smelled kinda like mustard and it was not quite right. We had let our guard down, it must now zoom up to red alert! I quickly warned my wife in Cebuano to watch her wallet. We moved into the sunlight and closer to the entrance of the monastery. I reached back and caught the man’s hand INSIDE my jeans back pocket and he was already extracting several large Euro bills, so I immediately grabbed his wrist, twisted and screamed at him and he quickly scurried off before I realized we were truly almost had. The woman hurried away and they got nothing. I was worried they had other accomplices in the gardens so I didn’t do what I should have, and chased the guy and pounded his silly face into the cobblestones. We quickly entered the monastery, spoke to the receptionist and they called the police. We figured out that they had a little squirt bottle and they nailed us with a mixture of mustard and water that was all over my wife’s jacket and my shirt and jeans. My clothing was worthless, but my wife’s jacket was a real concern. And much worse than that, was the feeling of nearly being robbed. It was very discombobulating. I went to school in the middle of Harlem in New York and never once was I mugged, and I have never been pickpocketed before either. We tried to recover within the monastery grounds, photographed the orange trees and quickly took a cab back home. But there is a slight silver lining to all of this… my wife hunted for hours for a cleaner who could fix her jacket. By late in the afternoon it was looking bad until one lady at a cleaner’s asked how it happened and she was so horrified that these hooligans would do something like that, that she actually cleaned the jacket right there on the spot while my wife waited and she refused payment!!! God bless her soul. As for the would-be-thieves, if I ever get the chance, I would NOT HESITATE to slice off your cojones and sauté them in butter to be served to our pet Labrador for breakfast. Or maybe I could strip you, slather you with sugared water and chain you to the nearest red ant hill I find. Think I would cringe at your tortured screams? Think again. I hope you rot in pickpocket’s Hell!

 

COMMENTS:

  1. fried-neurons says:

    Oh, wow! That was a close call! It can feel incredibly violating, so I can understand how furious you are.

    I’ve only been a pickpocket victim once. Well, technically it wasn’t my pocket that was picked. Someone stole my wristwatch right from under my nose in a standing-room-only Love Bus from UP Diliman to Makati many moons ago.

    People warned me about pickpockets in Paris as well. But it was late fall and chilly when I went, so I wore long coats everyday and never had to deal with any of that.

    Glad to hear you were able to ward them off!

    Jun 11, 2006 | 6:53 am

     
  2. sasha says:

    My goodness MM what a nerve-wracking experience for you. And what a scam – using fake pigeon poop of all things! Now I’ve heard everything. Well done for not letting the poop pockets get away with anything. Whew!!! :-)

    Jun 11, 2006 | 7:18 pm

     
  3. mardie says:

    goodness gracious! akala ko tayong mga pinoy lang magaling sa pickpocketing meron pa palang mas magaling. that was smart of you though to constrain yourself from chasing after them coz you dont know what or who is beyond the corner. smart of you too to smell something fishy right at the exact moment that the guy is about to help himself to an advanced xmas gift. your angels were working fulltime at that time MM.

    Jun 11, 2006 | 8:49 pm

     
  4. renee says:

    hahaha…sorry for laughing but i do enjoy unrestrained rage in print “slice off your cajones and sauté them in butter” hahahahaha this just made my day, but i’m really glad you guys are ok =)

    Jun 12, 2006 | 1:07 am

     
  5. Manila streetwalker says:

    MM,

    some experience! have heard of how high-tech they are in Europe when it comes to pick pockets but this is something else! Arent you glad you have a chef’s intuition and can smell something fishy from afar? ;o)

    Jun 12, 2006 | 8:52 am

     
  6. linda says:

    I would hate to cross you in a dark alley,MM, when you have your feathers ruffled,hahaha!

    Sorry to hear about your altercation with the lowlife,but,am glad that no loss was suffered.

    Jun 12, 2006 | 2:35 pm

     
  7. acmr says:

    Lesson of the day: Huwag galitin si Marketman!

    Jun 12, 2006 | 11:42 pm

     
  8. miles says:

    just a little sidebar, i hope you don’t mind — the Spanish word is cojones.

    Jun 30, 2006 | 10:38 am

     
  9. Marketman says:

    miles, I don’t mind at all…have corrected the spelling up top! Thanks for that, wouldn’t want to misspell balls as bells…

    Jun 30, 2006 | 10:55 am

     
  10. mochamudpie says:

    I had a similar incident when I was in Malaysia. Malaysian subways are normally crowded right? Well, I’m really paranoid about people in general. I don’t like them crowding me… so imagine my surprise when I saw a hand inside my bag! I twised the hand while we were entering the subway until it was totally out of my bag…He didn’t get anything but I felt really shitty. You’re right, even if they didn’t get anything from you, you feel violated and want to do something about it… but Malaysia’s not my turf so I just sat down, stared at him and then took pictures of him… just so that he’ll also feel paranoid.

    Jul 27, 2006 | 2:39 pm

     
 

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