Saturday, November 22, 2008

PickPockets, Barcelona

It may be that I expressed doubts about whether the pickpockets of Barcelona were actually worse than those I had heard about in Istanbul or Rome however ... today I had to change my ideas as I watched one in action here in the city.

I met up with friends this morning and we were on the underground metro, returning from Salgada Familia. One of our group was ahead of me and there was a woman next to him, shadowing him as we all surged onto the tram. I could see she was searching his pockets but so brilliantly that he wasn't feeling a thing.

The few seconds I had watching this woman work, even as I called out a warning, were a little like watching an animal in some place where I didn't expect to see one, and doing something I had never observed before. Somehow she didn't seem human - it was one of those really odd and surreal moments in life.

I called out to warn him again but he's deaf. Fortunately, a lovely guy on the metro spotted her and her gang. He pulled her off my friend and pushed her out the train, shouting at her even as she was jammed in the doors and staring at him uncomprehendingly. Her behaviour was so odd that it still makes me frown in concentration as I try to write of it here.

We thanked him not only for that but because his intervention helped another traveling companion pull her handbag away from one of the other thieves.

You know, it was almost as if there was some psychological or physical transformation that occurred in these thieves and it moved them beyond normal everyday behaviour and into a body language that separated them from everyone else, making their actions all but invisible.

Puzzling but anyway ... it's true, watch out for the pickpockets of Barcelona.


Mlle said...

That sounds terrible to watch :( Despite the fact that the thieves didn't succeed, there's still a certain degree of sadness, no?

Anonymous said...

To see is to believe.
To read about it too.
My family will call me paranoid, but I'll never forget your description.

Kay said...

Makes me shudder - animal-like behaviour indeed. You've described it well.

Joyce said...

I was pickpocketed in Brussels in the metro, front on, with the thief diving into my handbag.At the same time, she was barring my progress as I was trying to squeeze past her for a seat and she was looking into my eyes with a glazed look!Quite unnerving!

Manictastic said...

Yup, Barcelona, pick-pocketeers' heaven.

And you're missing the first snow btw.

V-Grrrl said...

It does sound surreal, mythical almost, as if you're seeing a unicorn or fairy or something else you've always heard of but never expected to witness.

Di Mackey said...

It wasn't nice, Shannon but seeing it left me curious about the psychology of pick-pocketing. I guess there's something on google ;)

I hope I didn't put you off, Anon because as long as you're careful with where your possessions are, you'll be fine. I only had used tissues in my pockets and I kept my camera bag turned backwards on on the front of my body. And had she not been caught, she would have had no joy with Al's pockets either.

I wasn't sure about blogging this experience, Kay. I'm glad that I captured something of the feeling of the experience. It was surreal.

I wonder what the glazed look is about, Joyce. Perhaps it's something to do with a need to control body language and to work somehow invisibly?

I managed not to miss the first snow, Manic :) It was still snowing as we slipped through the night towards Antwerpen.

Di Mackey said...

Exactly, v-grrrl.