If I haven’t said it a thousand and one times already, I’ll say it again. Paris is great. Has been great actually. But last Monday, I had a scare so great in a not-so-great way I swear I nearly needed to go for a heart bypass.
Went to the Palais Garnier on my own and I had such a great time there. The weather was fab, the place was amazing and I had grand plans to go shopping after.
Then came that moment. I removed my jacket inside the opera house because it was warm and after exiting I felt chilly so I wanted to put it back on. I chose a spot a few steps away from the exit doors, turned my back towards the crowd and put my bag down on a pedestal right between my knees. I had my eyes on the bag the whole time. Well, except for that literal split-second where I couldn’t find my right arm hole for the life of me. Imagine this in super quick speed; eyes on bag, turns head slightly right to stick arm into jacket, turns back AND OH MY FUCKING GOD MY BAG WAS GONE.
I did a double take because it happened wayyyy toooooo fast and I didn’t even see anyone come behind me. Of course I panicked. Of the many things I’m known for, being calm is not one of my attributes.
My mind went blank and then it thankfully started working again. I quickly looked around and started asking no one but everyone in particular, “DID ANYONE SEE MY BAG?!”
One kind but not-so-kind lady (will explain in a bit why I’m a tad ungrateful to her) said in a way too calm voice as if it were none of her business, “two girls took your bag” in a matter-of-fact manner.
Me: “Where are they?!”
Her: *points in a general direction to the right* “There.”
Me: “WHERE?!?!” (Note that by now I’m in super panic mode because my passport, all my money, cards and mobile phone was in that bag. Now’s not the time to reprimand me not to put all my eggs in one basket, please.)
Her: *points again in that same general direction* “They crossed the road already.”
Me: “Thank you!” (I’m quite proud that despite the chaos I didn’t forget my manners. I’m sure my parents would be so proud.)
I dashed acrossed the road in the middle of nowhere, holding my arm out as I literally stopped traffic with my bare hand and reached the other side without getting killed. Halfway across, I turned back to the lady and gestured “where?” again to be sure I was in the correct general direction. Here’s the next problem. The street was too crowded. There were many groups of “two girls”. However, as I was dashing across the road, I happened to fix my eyes on two young adults who were behaving very suspiciously. They kept looking back and the moment they saw me chasing, they quickened their pace.
I took a gamble and managed to run after and grab hold of one of them, all the time demanding (like a broken record), “WHERE’S MY BAG?!?!?!”. Thief #1 left her accomplice in my clutches. Thief #2 kept pointing behind us (also in a non-specific direction) and kept repeating “There! There!”. I refused to let go until I scanned the area and saw my bag on the floor near a nearby bus stop. Of course my bag had the utmost priority so I let go of her. They must have dropped it after seeing me come after them. I unzipped my bag to check its contents and thank god everything was intact. Immediately after my heart started pounding furiously. Like I could feel it against my clothes.
Throughout this whole commotion, not one person helped me. They just stood around watching nonchalently as if I was filming a movie. Yes, I’m grateful the lady gave me a good lead but all this time, she just sat a few steps behind me watching them steal my bag without saying a word. True, it was not her business nor obligation to help, but couldn’t shouting a simple “Hey!” have helped? Either to scare the thieves or get my attention sooner.
I dare not imagine what would have happened if I was unsuccessful. Seeing how these French people are so unfeeling and cold, who would have been willing to lend me a phone to call for help? I know they sometimes border on being rude, but isn’t it natural human instinct to want to stop bad things from happening?
I have not told my parents because they might nag at me and force me on the next flight home. My two sisters joked that it’s a good thing I’ve started to go jogging. For me, it was a great lesson learnt. My bag now never leaves my body; not when I’m eating, not when I’m peeing and it stays under my jacket instead of over now.
I still shudder when I’m playing back that scene and say thank you a million times to whoever up there who was watching me. I’m also proud of myself that in a real time of crisis, the crying did not come and I was able to force my mind (and legs) to move. I did feel like crying after but more of relief.
Paris, I still love you but your people need to reflect a little more on themselves. The colder you are, the more infamous your city will get.