So, to resume where I left off: pickpockets. I would try to describe what it was like to be pickpocketed, except that if I knew it at the time, I would not have let it happen. This is sort of what it is like when people ask me what I think about having all brothers. I am always tempted to turn the question around and ask what it is like to have a sister. The answer in both cases is, I don’t know.
I can, however, describe the sort of feelings you get after your pocket has been picked, although mine may be slightly a-typical. The first two reactions are, I believe, similar for most people, and the first of these two reactions is incredulity. I could not believe my pocket had been picked. It just was not possible. Never mind I was in a city notorious for that sort of thing, and on top of that in a place within that city that was even more so. Never mind that I had just paid for my ticket displaying ready money for whoever might have had their eyes open to see what pocket I put my coin purse away in. I had, in fact, put it into a pocket which I then buttoned shut. But for a good pickpocket, this is no trouble, and all in all, I was probably a pretty easy target. And in the end, if I had any doubts about the skill of London pickpockets, they were banished when the friend I was visiting told me about how her grandfather had an inside breast pocket of his sports coat picked. And even though I am at times a fairly absent minded person, even I am not so absent minded as to simply leave my money some place. And as I said, I buttoned my pocket shut. It could not have just fallen out.
Second, after I had accepted my money being stolen, came the feeling of anger. Being robbed sort of enters my list of things that are only cool when they don’t happen to you. Thieves, pirates, assassins, and vampires all have this interesting spot in fantasy literature where many people have decided to turn them into not only cool characters, but also good characters. Now, I am a fan of Robin Hood just as much as anyone else, but it would be a stretch to justify robbing me by calling me “rich.” Frankly, I am not. I had a good deal of money on me at the time (about a hundred and fifty pounds, or three hundred American dollars), but this was money I had to work for and save up. That was lodging money, food money, and yes, spending money. But it was money I had specifically put aside for my trip, and without it, I was in a tight spot. (The good news is that I had inadvertently done a wise thing in keeping my money, credit card, and passport all in separate pockets.) In other words, whoever did it was being awfully nasty. This made my book somewhat sour reading afterward, because the random fantasy epic I had chanced to pick from Markus’s substantial collection featured a group of protagonists that included both a thief and an assassin. I have a hard time liking this thief character, seeing as one of his kind just thieved me. And I like the assassin even less, because I can’t imagine myself being very happy to find a knife in my back one morning. The same holds true for people who would try to blow holes in my ship, steal all my money, and slit my throat. Oh, and let’s not forget getting my blood sucked dry and being turned into a demonic, un-dead monster. And lest I be misunderstood, let me make myself clear: I love thieves, assassins, pirates, vampires, etc… As villains. The story that has such characters as heroes I usually like in spite of the character’s occupation–not because of it.
And now I must confess to some slight form of hypocrisy, because along side my indignation over having my pocket picked, I am slightly proud of the story I get to tell because of it. I am not fond of my pickpocket by any means, and I do wish I had my three hundred dollars back. But that three hundred dollars bought me a lifetime of bragging rights. And that is something that I begin to find almost worth it.