After bouncing around the States this summer, we’re back in sunny Barcelona.
This year, I’d like to accomplish two things:
- Update this cyber cesspool more often so my friends Craig and Lee can insult me directly in front of everyone instead of doing it behind my back.
- Not get robbed again.
Last May, Pam and I got on the metro and headed to the beach to catch a Patti Smith concert. Patti was in town for the Primavera Sound Music Festival and was going to perform the entire “Horses” album on its 40th anniversary. Our metro car was a total sardine can. It seemed like the whole city had suddenly become Patti Smith fans.
I got off the train 20 minutes later without my wallet.
To make a long, depressing story short, I ran into three pickpockets and got worked like a sailor’s cock on shore leave. The train lurched coming into a station. One guy “lost his balance” and fell into me. His friend unzipped my side pants pocket and took my wallet. The third one then took the loot and got off the train. This all happened in about three or four seconds. I have to admit that their efficiency was impressive.
I suppose it doesn’t say much about my lifestyle that a stranger on a subway can unzip my pants and rummage around down there without immediately setting off alarm bells in my head. In fact, the only reason I noticed my wallet was gone in the first place is because I was looking for some money to tip them.
So in an effort to save you the hassle of wandering the streets penniless while in Barcelona, I’ve put together a few handy tips you can use to protect yourself.
First, check yourself before you leave the hotel. Did you make sure there are wads of cash sticking out of your pockets? Is your backpack securely on your back where you can’t see it all? Did you make sure to leave all the zippers undone? Do you have your passport, driver’s license, cellphone, every credit card you own, and your hotel room key inside the bag? If so, you’re ready to hit the town!
The second thing you need to do is always be aware of your surroundings. Look around. Are you in Barcelona? If so, you’ve just been robbed. You should’ve listened to your wife and gone to Canyon Ranch instead.
The best part about being robbed is that you suddenly become suspicious of every man, woman, and child you encounter. When I mentioned to some of my Spanish friends that I’d been robbed, they told me about all the scams they’d seen. Someone standing up in the middle of the train and shouting, “My wallet is gone!” is often the decoy used to distract you so the “victim’s” friends can actually steal your wallet. A group of kids starting a fight can be a diversion. Being asked for directions is another common ploy. Anything you take notice of suddenly becomes part of a grand conspiracy to rob you blind.
I’ve reached the point now where if I see an old woman twist her ankle, tumble into the street, get run over by a bus, and have both legs pinned beneath the rear tires, my first thought will be, “Nice try, you old bat, but I’m not falling for THAT again. Now pick up that blood!”
Then again, that’s not entirely different from what my reaction would’ve been prior to being robbed. Maybe I wasn’t a victim of pickpockets on that metro car. Maybe I was a victim of karma.