Question 4: Dangerous places for pickpocketing are a) Paris b) Rome c) a busy street in broad daylight in Dublin or d) all of the above.
If you selected D, you are correct. On my Solo Travellers Exam Paper I circled A and B.
My punishment was getting pickpocketed on the way to my hostel in Dublin.
Yep. I know, I know. I feel like more of a fuck up than I can ever be judged. I’ve transcribed this post from the back of scraps of paper and receipts, where it was written through a moderate amount of self loathing, punctuated by forehead slapping.
I’m in two minds about sharing this. On one hand it shows the hilarity and dangers of travelling alone. It shows that letting your guard down for one second can be disastrous. And, maybe my words will cause a lady on the streets of Dublin to grab her bag and hold on to it instead of grinning at the city unfurling before you, marvelling at the people saying things like, “That’s roight Tommy, I’m gonna get one for me ma and da.”
On the other hand, I look like a total fucking spastic. An idiot. A naive, grinning moron. A chump. A loser. A gimp. A…I’m sure you get the point.
Dublin lulled me into a false sense of security. I had kept my wits about me and avoided major travelling fuck ups after Prague. I was feeling pretty good about myself.
Then I landed in Ireland. The Irish are heartbreakingly friendly. They are helpful, funny, gregarious. I spent one night in an airport hotel, and had three nights booked in a city center hostel after that. The morning I left the hotel, a free breakfast coupon was given to me by a stranger. Bacon. FREE bacon! Awesome start to the day.
Sitting on the bus to the hostel, I was mentally running through the possibility of moving to Ireland. Surely they need psych nurses here? I could deal with the cold…
I was in love with the place after a whirlwind courtship of twelve hours. Perhaps it’s the Irish blood from both sides of my family, but Dublin resonated with me in a way that no other city had. I felt at home, instantly.
I depart the bus. After checking Google maps on my iPad, I shove it back in my satchel
because Indiana Jones has one and trek up the street, lugging my suitcase behind me. The suitcase goes up onto one wheel, nearly tipping over. I turn and see a young guy behind me. I assume that I have run over his foot- something I managed to do to a lady in London. I apologise, turn, and keep walking.
When I discover the missing iPad a sick feeling hits the pit of my stomach. No. Not again, it can’t be…
I stupidly check my pockets. I unzip my suitcase. It’s nowhere. I remember the young guy and freeze.
That’s right. I was pick pocketed and I apologised to the thief.
Luckily, my passport and wallet- the latter with 300€ in it- were still zipped into a hidden pocket of the bag. And I had backed the iPad up two days earlier in Rome, staying in the hostel all morning to do it. I don’t know why I chose that time to do the ONLY backing up I had done all trip. But I’m thankful I did.
After a brief freak out my brain flips into functionality mode: I need to report the crime to police. I can claim it on travel insurance but I need to find an internet cafe and get the address of the nearest police station.
Don’t fall apart, CC. Now is not the time. Just do what has to be done. Then fall apart.
At the internet cafe I check Find my iPad. It’s offline. I register it lost, leaving the generic ‘Please call… if found’ message. I pause, and then add my own note:
‘I know you stole it, you pick pocketing fuck. I hope your teeth fall out. And if I ever find you, I will castrate you with a rusty pocketknife then feed your balls to starving squirrels.’
I find the address of the nearest police station and set off, still willfully refusing to cry. However my eyes are the fetching shade of ‘man-I-really-want-to-burst-into-tears-but-I-won’t’ pink, so I’m wearing sunglasses in the rain.
When the cop approaches the glass at the police station I proclaim, “I’ve just been pick pocketed!” letting out a small, strangled sob on the final word. Deep breath. “Sorry. I’ve just been pick pocketed,” I repeat calmly.
As he’s writing the report I’m looking around the station. There’s a poster on the wall appealing for information about a young woman that was murdered. She was abducted from O’Connell Street- exactly where I was stealthily robbed. Her battered body was found, her purse never was. Police have no leads.
Maybe the world really is just a fucked up, horrible place and you have to be a total bastard to survive.
As I stood there, mentally tallying up the amount of times I have been fucked over on this trip, the floodgates of self loathing opened. I blamed myself.
I need to harden up. I should have yelled at that guy for tipping my suitcase. Shaped up to him. I should have called him a dickhead, told him to get the fuck out of my personal space. Maybe if I did, I wouldn’t be missing an iPad. I’m too nice.
Problem is, I kind of like the gentle, nice, happy side of my personality. I do. But it wasn’t serving me well during my travels. I began to feel like the beloved family dog had just mauled me in the face.
Once the police report was filed, I needed a beer. I found a pub called The Church and prepared to pray to the God of Hops.
As the bartender is pouring my Kilkenny, he clocks my accent. He asks where I’m from then deduces, “Travelling by yourself, are ya?”
He appraises me. “You’re a brave woman.”
I smile, not feeling particularly brave.
“How’s your time in Dublin so far?”
And before I can stop it, a harsh barking laugh escapes. “It could be better.”
He frowns and, as my pint is settling, I tell my story. The waiter and waitress approach the bar to listen. When I am done, six sympathetic eyes gaze at me.
“Thievin’ bastards,” exclaimed the bartender. “What a lovely start to your holiday. Here,” he pushes the pint at me. “That’s on us.”
“No,” I exclaim, thrusting 10€ at him.
“No, love. You need a beer. Get your teeth into that. I insist.” The waiter and waitress nod in agreement.
I’m flummoxed. I thank them profusely and go out to the beer garden.
It hits me.
The world can be fucked, cruel, and cold. It can laugh at you. It can break your heart. It can piss you off and knock you down. That’s life.
There is the milk of human kindness that soaks into every level of society. That warms my heart. The world can be fucked but people can randomly be fantastic, and that makes all the difference. Drinking that beer I realised that being nice isn’t a bad thing, maybe it means that one day I may put a smile on someone’s face in the way these three just put a smile on mine. Maybe looking at the world through a sunny veil of optimism and good intentions isn’t my problem, maybe I just need to realise that not everyone does the same.
I had a laugh with a random lady on an escalator. I conversed with tattoo artists about how crap Ryanair is. I joked around with baristas and bartenders. The Irish are, on the whole, awesome.
The whole experience can be summed up by something an old lady said to me while we were having a cigarette outside a restaurant, “We are lovely, the Irish, and we will go out of our way to help, but there are some feckin’ bastards here. That’s everywhere you go though, love. There are good and bad people everywhere.”