Dani and Megan vs. The Worst Pickpocket in the World

When I was 20 and studying abroad in Strasbourg, France, my mother and aunt came to visit me. They flew into Paris and I took an overnight train to meet them. I had taken this particular train many times over the previous months I’d been living in France, never with any problems.

Cue ominous music. (This happens a lot in my life, huh?)

I hadn’t reserved a sleeping car because:

  1. I was a broke student.
  2. I was 20 and could actually go without a good night’s sleep and sleep in a chair or something. If I tried that now, it would take me days and days to recover, during which time I’d be a total mess. Ah, youth. Wasted on the young, amiright? Now, you kids get off my yard! I have to take care of my cats!

I found a booth/room on the train that was unoccupied and settled my backpack on the seat beside me, leaving the backpack wide open and my wallet right on top. Of my wide-open backpack. I’ll let that sink in for a second.

*Sigh.* 20-year-olds. So pretty. So, so stupid.

Of course, as many of you have already predicted, when I woke up in the morning, my wallet was gone, which meant I had no cash, no credit cards, no nothing. Yes, that’s right, not only had I left my wallet on the very top of my very open backpack, I had put everything of value I owned in said wallet (besides my passport—not quite that stupid).

I got smarter as I got older, don't worry.

When we pulled into the train station, I went to the police and tried to file a report (my French used to be good enough to do that). My main concern was that I had not even one franc (yeah, I’m old—this was pre-Euro time) and I had to catch the train to the airport. Also, please note: this was pre-mobile time, so I had no way to get in touch with my mother and aunt, and they are not exactly the savviest travelers in the world (okay, Mom, let’s be realistic here—that’s just the truth).

In the end, the police officers told me they were too busy to escort me to the airport train and that since there was a transportation employee strike going on, I should just jump the gate because nobody would be monitoring the booth.

I could not make this stuff up, people.

I got to the airport just in time to meet my mom and aunt and my first now-infamous words to them were, “Got any money?”

I didn’t have a chance to confront the pickpocket who stole all my crap in France, and I’ve always kind of wondered what I would have done if I’d caught him or her.

Turns out I kind of got to find out.

Every Wednesday in Bangkok, my friends and I get together to maintain our solid 2nd place streak at O’Reilly’s trivia night. Wooooo, 2nd place! Whatever, shut up, we’re awesome.

Anyway, one night we were walking down Silom after the quiz. My friend Dani had her backpack on, and when I looked over at her, I saw a string hanging out of the backpack. ‘That’s funny,’ I thought, ‘She has a string coming out of her backpack.’

It’s like when I thought there was a little crab coming out of my shower drain, only it was a GINORMOUS COCKROACH. Just like that. By which I mean I was thinking crazy.

I followed the string out of Dani’s backpack…straight to an ancient MP3 player in some guy’s hands. At this point, my brain went into extreme slow motion.

Waaaaaaaiiiiiiitttttt…

That’s…that’s…isn’t that DANI’S ancient MP3 player?

Waaaaaaaiiiiiiitttttt…

That’s not a string…that’s her headphones…

Waaaaaaaiiiiiiitttttt…

That guy…is trying to steal her MP3 player…

Whaaaaaaaa?

Then things started to speed up.

OHMYGODthatguyistryingtostealherMP3player!

“Dani!” I said urgently. “Dani! He’s—he’s! Stop!”

Dani stopped and we both turned around to the would-be pickpocket. We looked at him. He looked at us. And then I reached out and calmly plucked the MP3 player out of his hands. We looked at him. He looked at us. Then he did an about-face and walked very calmly and slowly away from us.

This is the point where I would like my mother, any relatives, and any other people who are going to give me a lecture on the stupidity of my next actions to stop reading. As far as you’re concerned, Dani got her MP3 player back and we all lived happily ever after!

Hooray! Goodbye, now!

Okay, so, for the rest of you, what really happened is that Dani realized her passport had been in the same backpack pocket as her MP3 player, and god only knows what else this guy had taken from her.

So, since he was still right in front of us, I reached out and grabbed his bag and pulled him back to us.

Oh, don’t worry, it gets worse.

Then I opened his bag and went through it.

It was only later that evening when I was reviewing the night’s events in my mind that it came to me—Holy sweet baby jeebus, that was one of the stupidest things I’ve ever done in my life.

Luckily, we were dealing with an extremely terrible and not-so-bright pickpocket, as he let us look through his bag without putting up any sort of fight. At all. He kind of shook his head to indicate he hadn’t taken anything else, but we weren’t really taking his word for it, you know?

Well, turns out he really didn’t have anything else. I guess that taught us a lesson, huh? Moral of the story: Always trust a bad pickpocket when he tells you he didn’t take anything else from you!

We finally let him go, because…I don’t know. Were there any other options? I mean, were we going to wrestle him to the ground and keep him there while we yelled for the cops, who were not going to show up? Or if they did show up, not do anything about it, anyway? He was maybe late 20s and smaller than either of us, so we probably could have done it. But, meh.

So we let him go, and he just faded off into the crowd. He still wasn’t running, just kind of moseying away. And it didn’t seem like he was moving slowly because he was arrogant; it was more like he was moving slowly because he wasn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer.

We spent the rest of the evening kind of in shock, like, ‘What just happened here?!’

You know what just happened there? Super Dani and Super Megan kicked a pickpocket’s ass and lived to tell the tale.

That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

WE KICKED SOME ASS!

Final Score

Pickpocket: BIG FAT ZERO, BUT NICE TRY, BUDDY

Dani and Megan: 1 ancient MP3 player + 1 story to tell = WINNERS

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33 Comments

Filed under Living Abroad, Thailand

33 responses to “Dani and Megan vs. The Worst Pickpocket in the World

  1. Amy

    Alright, that is officially the weirest robbery attempt I have ever read about!

  2. Wow! You are one brave lass! My purse was stolen in the arrivals hall in Frankfurt airport. It had all my credit cards and my passport.

    So I got what I thought was a temporary passport but guess what? It’s not temporary, it’s ALL YOURS. I had to suffer with a butt-ugly photo in my passport until… heh. That’s for a coming post.

    • Oooooohhh…sounds like an exciting story.

      I thought they were temporary passports when they replaced them quickly, as well. Huh. But what a nightmare to have that stolen; your credit cards–whatever. But if my passport was stolen I would cryyyyyyy!

  3. i cant give you shit for something that i probably would have reacted worse to :)

    At least you both were reasonably calm, whereas anyone else may have got into a fight or argument like the bad ferang that some of us are. THAT would be seriously stupid.

    But nice one, champ! TAKE EM ALL DOWN! Superheroes for the little guy!

    -Rick

  4. Ahhh, this is the most awesomest story EVER!

  5. Great to hear nothing was taken 2nd time round! Love you named him the worst pickpocket in the world. I once had a thief steal a laptop from a clothes store I was working at. I was busy with customers when I turned around and saw a guy walking calmly out of the store with my laptop! Without even thinking, I ran up to him, grabbed the laptop out of his hands and yelled ‘NO!’ very loudly. He just walked slowly away. stupid thief! ^_^ ps. I love your blog!

  6. Andreas De Bruin

    Yep I would have got into at least a shoving – not so smart in Bangkok. I probably would suggesting checking your own bag before going for the pickpockets but we all do stupid things. The wallet in France and the reaction of the Gendarmaries though is gold. Having lived in Paris myself I know that is what they would have said. i would not try it in Munich though

    • It was just kind of a panicked reaction more than anything.

      Yeah, the guys in France were hilarious. Even years later, I’m like–really? That’s what their solution was? Jump the gate?

  7. Monica

    Awesome! In hindsight maybe not safest decision making process – but hey, still awesome!! Would it maybe have made sense to quickly look in her bag to the passport…while following him? :) Still great job ladies – you probably scared him and won’t try it again with farang ladies anyway… Once we move to town I hope I can join you at this O’Reilly’s Trivia Night….

    • Yeah, that totally makes more sense…but we were just like OH MY GOD WHAT?! And our brains weren’t working right. :)

      Ha–I’m sure that he moved on to the next farang ladies right after us. He wasn’t very scared of us at all!

  8. You guys are like superheroes. You could fight crime in Bangkok … very, very slowly. ;-)

    I feel like I’m overdue a mugging or something. Everyone I know has had something stolen from them or been mugged or pickpocketed. That’s never happened to me! I mean, I caught a guy with his hand in my bag on the tube in London but I managed to snatch it away before he took anything. That doesn’t count, right?

    • I think that totally counts! I’ve never been mugged, and I’m terrified of that day. Pickpocketing isn’t so aggressive, you know?

      We would be either really awesome or really terrible crime fighters. Probably a bit of both!

  9. Susanne

    Megan, I always love reading your blog and would love to tell you so every time, but this time I loved it so much and laughed so hard that I’m really going to say so.
    I love reading about your adventures and your super funny way of telling your story. So glad M&M told me about your smackdown.

  10. Incredible story – question izzz… are you also able to leap tall buildings in a single bound? ;)

    But seriously, amazing what delusional bravery we can summon up when indignant adrenalin kicks in. Great storytelling – you had me at “Waaaaaaaiiiiiiitttttt…

  11. Nice job puttin’ the smackdown (so to speak) on that perp, M. Ever considered a job in law enforcement?

  12. Jess

    I’m so proud of you! I’m going to buy you a cape!
    You know what I would’ve done: given him the MP3 player — and probably my water bottle — out of lingering Catholic guilt. Yeah.

    • Ahahahahahaha! Nah, you wouldn’t have given him your stuff. You would have been angry at him, while at the same time understanding the circumstances that drove him to that situation. Because that’s what I did. Sigh.

  13. Yes!!!

    I’m glad you’re safe, and I shouldn’t encourage the spur-of-the-moment choice to confront the guy, but I love it! You, m’dear, just won my vote for best story I’ve ready this month (if there was a contest for that sort of thing).

    And as soon as you mentioned the cats, I thought of this photo I saw once upon a time…I seriously need to buy it for myself. It amuses (and terrifies) me so that I thought I’d share: http://www.missfidget.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/crazy_cat_lady.jpg

  14. connie

    Young Lady what am I gonna do with you, I think your Mom and I would say the same words to you, I am so glad you are Ok, you do the same things Amanda would do. I have to admit though when we were your age your mom and I would have probably done the same thing lol. Please be careful, worry about you all the time anyway, love ya lots

  15. I’m proud of you. Maybe he’ll think twice before he does something so stupid again. Maybe.

    Way to pay attention dear, way to pay attention.

  16. Wow, this is a great story! It has EVERYTHING a thriller needs…crime, surly French police officers, train travel, international airports, and crime busting!
    Plus, girls with cool tattoos, not to mention Paris.
    Double-plus, it’s a “true crime” & first-person account…who could want for more?
    Seriously, like many of your readers, I hope you [and your “sidekick”] have given up on your life of crime fighting. Besides the risk of personal injury if you were to confront Kung Fu Master Pick Pocket next time, you’d really be overextending yourself, what with the blog writing and potato chip tasting gigs. Also, Bangkok has no phone booths, so no place to change into your spandex & cape.

    • Dang, my head has now grown too big for my hat (if I had a hat). Now I’m pretty sure I should be an international crime mystery writer! Hmmmm…

      Don’t worry, I gave up my life of crime fighting because I’m terrible at it. And BKK does have phone booths, they’re just totally open…so still no place to change into spandex and cape (yikes!).

  17. Love it – you’re clearly made of stronger stuff than mose. But wait until the ‘e-pickpocket’ hits our streets. When this happens it’s going to give ordinary folk a heck of a problem to deal with. Want to see what all the fuss is about? Yep, then maybe these guys will have some answers for you. http://www.e-pickpocket.com

    Yikes!!!

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