Today I experienced something I always thought I was to clever to avoid. I always bragged about how this never happened to me and I would never be that careless and yatta, yatta, whoop-dee-doo. Turns out, criminals are really freaking good at catching you when you’re in the most vulnerable position. Which was me this morning, on the RER B, with my cross-body purse, small backpack and my suitcase, crammed into an overcrowded train during the morning rush-hour.
Just when I thought the train to Paris (from the southern suburbs) wasn’t already packed, a group of guys squeezed themselves onto the train before the doors closed behind them. One of the guys started asking me and the guy standing next to me, a bunch of odd questions. Well, maybe not odd, but confusing to say the least. He asked if this was the train to go to line 7. And if this was the metro 1 (dude, you’re on the RER train, not the metro). I had a hard time understanding his accent, so I didn’t bother talking to him. The guy standing next to me, did try to help this lost fellow get to whatever destination he was planning on going to. Meanwhile, we were all like sardines in a can, stuffed together. The chatty, confused man thanked the guy standing next to me for helping him figure out where to get off the train to take the metro he wanted.
…But instead, he got off the train at the very next station. Odd. Something was kind of off with that guy. And I was starting to realize exactly what it was. He was a bloody criminal! And I had just become the latest victim of a pickpocket scheme performed by him and his comrades. My very first instinct was to shout out loud “ils ont volé mon portefeuille!” (they stole my wallet) before I broke down crying in front of everyone.
I had taken the RER B because I was on my way to Montparnasse to take the train to Toulouse, which would be the first of many destinations for my last time traveling solo as a twenty-something, before my thirtieth birthday. I had saved up so much money and only transferred it to my spending account the evening before. I was planning on really splurging on delicious French cuisine in Toulouse and Narbonne and then some Spanish delicacies in Girona before the grand finale in Pisa, Italy, where I would indulge myself and eat all the pasta and pizza I could possibly carry inside of that stomach of mine. That was, obviously, before my wallet was stolen. Now, I’m forced to travel on a low budget with money lent to me by my boyfriend and my mother.
I made it to Toulouse almost seven hours later than my original plan, as I missed my train when going to the police station to file a report. I also needed to call my bank to cancel my credit card, call my mother to ask her to wire me a little money, call my boyfriend to ask him to pick me up at the police station and take me to the train station where I would then ask if I could get my ticket reimbursed, since, well, I was robbed. Turns out, SNCF don’t give a rats ass about my situation, and I should have known they have a policy of “you snooze, you lose”. Meaning, they will only reimburse your ticket if it’s less than one hour since the departure of the train you were supposed to take.
“We will offer you a discount. You can have a new ticket for 75 euros”, the lady at the ticket counter said. Wow. What a bargain. 25 euros more expensive than the original ticket. And there went my food-budget for that day. Out of my pocket, just like my beloved credit card.
I got on the train. Sad. Unmotivated. Mostly just eager to go home and stay in bed for the rest of the week and not talk to anyone. Except from my boyfriend. But only to make him cook me some well-needed comfort food and stroke my hair. I didn’t want to go to Toulouse anymore. Not at all. I just wanted to go home.
The idea of traveling solo for an entire week makes me feel sick to my stomach right now.
Meanwhile, I didn’t wanna lose all the money I’d spent on (non-refundable) hotels and transportation, which is why I ended up going – despite how much I’m not feeling it, right now.
Traumatized, devastated and with hardly any money – how can I possibly have fun?
You know Murphy’s law, right? Something bad happens and just to make matters worse, everything comes crashing down at the same time. Yeah. So, the train was thirty minutes delayed, I got off at the wrong station (but managed to get back on the same train) and in Toulouse the weather was la merde. And obviously I got lost looking for the hotel.
Should I even continue this trip or just go home?
I’ll sleep on it.
these photos were taken on a
different happier occasion.