Thursday, April 09, 2015

A Young Pickpocket Learns A Valuable Lesson

Something happened a couple weeks back while I rode the Bay Parkway bus one weekday afternoon shortly after school let out. The bus was crowded as it usually is even before it got to my stop, by the train station. Naturally, it's a transfer point where many commuters are making a connection.

For those who haven't ridden a bus in New York City (and I haven't ridden elsewhere, but I imagine it's similar), you get on through the front door, the driver says move on back so more people can get on, and generally, people ignore him after moving about 10 feet. Resistance is met with surrender -- if you can't get past two people who refuse to move, you'll likely stop and add to the problem.

I do try to move back as far as I can. For one thin, plenty of people exit through the rear door, so if you can break through the logjam, there's usually breathing room in the back (and sometimes a seat with a bag on it that you can shame someone into removing).

There are a couple of semi-valid reasons for not moving toward the back of the bus. First, you are with someone who managed to get a seat, so you wish to stand near them, which requires you to sway out of the way of people pushing past. (Note: this is difficult to do if you are oblivious to the fact that you are wearing a bulky backpack sticking straight out into the "aisle", which is basically inches wide. Take it off!) Second, you have packages or a bag on wheels with a handle, either of which would be difficult to navigate through crowds.

On this day, there was an older woman with a travel bag with the handle extended immediately to her left, and she also had a sizable pocketbook hanging from left shoulder. I had my briefcase in my left hand, with its strap still on my left shoulder. I was also wearing a pair of earbuds with the wire running down to and disappearing into the right pocket of my jacket. Everything inside my pocket was secure; it always is. I was basically sidestepping through the crowd, leading with my bag to wiggle through, saying "Pardon me, excuse me, pardon me" like an old Bugs Bunny cartoon. My right hand was grasping and moving along the overhead bar because the bus pulled away from the curb rather abruptly. (Schedules!) I noted both of her bags and was being careful.

Now there is an alternate explanation about the events which happened next: it is possible that the wire could've caught on either of her bags. It is possbile that the woman shifted and her elbow caught the wire. It's possible that this was just an odd occurrence. But not likely in the slightest.

This is why: I have had the wire to my earbuds snag on things before. The result is always the same -- the earbuds are pulled from my ears. Action/reaction. I think that there was one time that the wire came loose on the other end. However, the path of least resistance, the weakest link in the chain, is the connection to my ears, not to my pocket. Never -- I repeat, NEVER! -- has any snag yanked anything out of my pocket. (Like a little boy's, a grown man's pockets run deep, and they collect many things.)

Here is what I believe really happened. Someone, likely a school-aged individual, saw an opportunity. They saw the wire disappearing into my pocket and my right arm raised over my head, giving them a clear path. They either thought that they could easily lift my phone out of my pocket by the wire, or maybe that if they pinched the wire, my motion to the back of the bus would lift it out on its own. Their objection, I suppose, would be to yank the wire free, palm the phone and swing about in their seat, essentially disappearing into the crowd, leaving me without anyone to accuse. It's not like a cop would stop the bus and search all the passengers, right?

But the little sticky-fingered bandit didn't get away with it. Like Snidely Whiplash with two binomials, his plan was foiled because he hadn't counted on something. There was something he hadn't expected and probably never would have before now.

And so my little pickpocket friend, you have now learned a valuable lesson.

You now know what a Sony Walkman looks like.


Dennis Stout said...


Not that I enjoy crime, but man, I'm sure he was confused as crazy when he saw that!

Did he try to follow through with the robbery in an attempt to not get caught?

Lol, zero resale value on the blackmarket these days!

(x, why?) said...

The gist of it is that he didn't know that I was listening to a Walkman. He (or she) just assumed I had some kind of phone or electronics worth stealing.

As soon as the discovery was made, my Walkman was dropped but instead of landing back in my pocket, it fell toward the bus floor, stopped only by the cord to the earbuds.