Hey, that's my purse!

Paris Travel Blog

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scene of the crime
With the good, in traveling, comes the bad. And sometimes, the momentarily cataclysmic. In an ironic twist, my venture to transform Paris from the kleptomaniac breeding ground of my memory into one of my favorite world cities was interrupted when my purse was stolen.

It all started innocently enough. I began the sunny Parisian day without a care in the world. I bought a baguette from the bakery, some fruit from the fruit guy, and the final touches from a nearby market. With my lunch and book in tow, I set out for the river to soak in the sun.

When the basking was done and a realization that my little purse was nowhere to be found set in, I frantically sprinted back to the market.
my new favorite tourist attraction
Somewhere in the midst of the paying, bagging and shuffling for space, I must have left the purse on the counter. A naively optimistic part of me held out hope that the cashier women would greet me with a smile and my belongings and we could all have a good chuckle over the close call. The other 99% of me was too deep in denial to consider the consequences.

The good chuckle would have to wait. When the women shook their heads in bemused regret, I could only do what I believe anyone in my situation would have: I burst into tears. Then checked my bag for the zillionth time. It was just an ugly little purple wallet, but large enough to hold my cash, driver's license, multiple credit cards, passport and (insert tragic gasp here) my favorite chapstick, to boot. The rookie mistake of carrying my passport with me, instead of leaving it safely at home with my bag, is another story altogether.
i thought it appropriate and funny to buy a Paris coinpurse
And yes, now I know I will never put all of my credit cards in the same spot again. I learned all of this very quickly, but much, much too late.

The women directed me to the police station, where I told my story through a mist of sputtering teardrops. Every time I tried to compose myself and talk without welling up, a snide little voice would click on in my head, taunting "Nice work, moron. Who's the big, smart seasoned traveler now?" and the frustrated stream of tears would return.

The police could only do so much initially, so with a ball of tissues and plans for my return, they sent me home to deal with the credit cards. I called and canceled everything immediately, but it was too late. My bank account had been drained, and then some. Quick little bastards.
oh sweet, sweet passport. Never leave me again!

As this trip is all about new experiences, my next step was a visit to the American Embassy. I suppose every experienced traveler needs to see the inside of one at some point in their life. And I must say, it was a very pleasant experience. As pleasant as it could be, of course, considering the circumstances and fact I had to fork over $100 to replace the passport I just purchased 7 months ago. But the people were great and I don't think the women I talked to would have left me sleeping in the streets, if that were my situation. By my third trip back to the embassy, I was practically buddies with the guards and moving through the waiting lines in VIP fashion.

The same should be said for the French police as well. Despite the fact (or let's be honest, maybe BECAUSE of the fact) I was slobbering snot and tears all over them and only able to speak in english, they were extremely nice. And the young officer Anthony, who filed my report, even escorted me to the city Lost and Found on his day off. Perhaps there were ulterior motives to his helpfulness and it could have been the framework for a classic hollywood romance, but alas...a person is only allowed so many good stories in a week and I am not Meg Ryan.

So there it is. The biggest stress I hope to ever go through as a traveler, but I won't hold my breath. I was a bit of a mess with the initial shock of it all, but by the next day, I got over. It happened and there was nothing more I could do but suck it up and take the steps to correct my losses. And in the meantime, I was stuck in Paris. A city with an unending supply of neighborhoods to explore, sunny days and, of course, those whiplash-inducing gents everywhere I looked. It really could be worse.
afredrix says:
And I forgot to add that I carried copies of my passport with me as well (and did remember to keep those separate.) This was huge and definitely my recommendation for any travelers, should you be so unlucky.
Posted on: Oct 03, 2008
homeres says:
I feel for you on this story. It is honest! Perhaps a fanny pack on the next visit?!

i plan on traveling to Paris next month. I will remember the passport thing : )
Posted on: Oct 02, 2008
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scene of the crime
scene of the crime
my new favorite tourist attraction
my new favorite tourist attraction
i thought it appropriate and funny…
i thought it appropriate and funn…
oh sweet, sweet passport. Never le…
oh sweet, sweet passport. Never l…
photo by: Sweetski