Wednesday, 11 December 2013

WordPress Daily Prompt: Unexpected

Unexpectedly, you lose your job. (Or a loved one. Or something or someone important to you.) What do you do next? 

Photographers, artists, poets: show us LOSS.

Train Departure Solothurn Main Station

Unexpectedly I had my purse stolen from my handbag when I was boarding the train for Zürich airport. Life is full of unexpectancies, otherwise it would be a boring life. However, there are things that you can do without.

I saw the man standing on the platform. He looked quite respectable with his long belted overcoat and horn rimmed spectacles. He was tall and carrying a briefcase I think. No, of course I did not know that he was on the lookout for an unsuspecting golden oldie like myself. He just stood out a little in the crowd. I was saying my goodbyes to Mr. Swiss. At our age it is not a spectacular tear filled event, just a reality that I would be gone a week seeing my father in London and he would be left to fend for himself. He is quite good at fending for himself and does not need the neighbour’s help to iron his washing, and neither are the restaurants suddenly having to supply his daily meals. Mr Swiss is independent. When I am gone he just has to make sure the felines survive and being Swiss he has everything under control.

In the distance I could hear and see the train approaching, so shifted nearer to the edge of the platform along with the other travellers, as in the photo. There is always a group meeting at the entrances to the carriages of the fellow commuters, all wanting to get a seat, preferably at the window and facing the direction of the front of the train. At least that is my wish and it not being the rush hour this was possible. There was the usual push and pull when mounting the steps and when someone puts their sticky thieving hand in your handbag it is not noticed. I was the victim of a disciple of Fagin, a thieving figure from the Charles Dickens novel “Oliver Twist”.

Eventually I was seated and after a couple of minutes the ticket lady arrived to see my ticket and then I had the sinking feeling in the pit of my digestive system. I had a long heavy purse, which was no longer there. My plane ticket was, just a piece of paper, but the purse was gone. I explained and moved to the train exit to leave the train at the next station, what else could I do?

The ticket lady understood. I dragged my case down the stairs of the train and went immediately to the ticket office to report my problem. At the same time there was another lady and her husband who had also been robbed.

Money is not always everything, my credit cards were also gone, but I still had my mobile telephone. The next movement, call Mr. Swiss – did I forget my purse at home? No I did not he confirmed and said he remembered when I boarded the train the nice tall gentlemen with the long overcoat and glasses also boarded the train next to me, with a scruffy short individual who seemed to be his partner in crime. They rapidly left the train before it moved on and quickly left the station. I afterwards learned that is was no five minutes after the robbery that my credit card was tried at the next cash point.

I returned home after further complications getting a train ticket without money, Mr. Swiss buying a ticket at my local station which was confirmed to the next station enabling me to return. No money, no ticket. I could not even buy a cup of coffee at the restaurant to calm my nerves. I reported it all to the police, blocked my credit cards all in the same afternoon and called my father to say I will come again later. I had insurance to cover the renewal of the credit cards and also the plane ticket was replaced.

Money is not always everything, it is the sick feeling you have after being contaminated by two men who have nothing better to do than steal from others.

So what do you do next? You react, and hope that others also react. I discovered that the police had no CCTV at the local station, a busy station on the main line from Geneva to Zürich. The cash points had no CCTV to see who had tried my cards, and you had to do it all yourself. The most difficult was getting a new Swiss identity card. This takes a couple of weeks. Luckily I have a British passport so could repeat my journey a week later. I learnt something, never ever use a handbag, and if you do and it has a shoulder strap, then wear it under your coat, which is closed. I still now avoid handbags when I can. In Winter I carry my purse and telephone in my jeans with zipped pockets. In summer I use a handbag, but carefully. I no longer trust no-one anyone and the next person that wants to rob me must be careful. If I catch him he will have a permanent injury in a very sensitive place, if he is a masculine subject.

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1 comment:

  1. It must be so vexing to fall victim to this kind of crime. I am fortunate not to have had this happen to me, although I always take steps to make it as difficult as possible for opportunistic pickpockets.