It was the jostling that alerted me. I looked down and saw a hand removing money from my pocket.
This was almost identical to an incident that had happened to me years before in New York when I had a loudspeaker factory in Manhattan. I was traveling to work on the E train one morning and I noticed three young black men around 15 or 16 sitting opposite me. What was novel about them was their manner of dress. Each had on the same red sneakers, red jackets, red baseball hats and baggy pants. They were talking quietly among themselves and apart from their uniforms there was nothing remarkable about them.
As the train approached the Houston St. station, I rose and moved over to the exit. Just before it stopped, I felt someone pushing on my back and someone else crowding me on my left side. I looked down and saw a hand pulling money from my right pocket. Instinctively, I splayed both arms sideways. At this time I was building speakers mostly by hand and I had strong muscles in both arms. I made contact with two of the boys with such force that both went flying down the center of the train. Fortunately the one on my right dropped my money and all three of them fled as the doors opened. I retrieved my funds, walked off the train and noticed two policemen standing at the other end of the platform, one was white, the other black. I approached them and told them of the incident. They asked me to describe the boys.
“They were three young black kids and they all looked alike.” I meant of course that their dress was identical, but was too rattled to speak clearly. The black officer looked at me in disgust and walked away.
Barcelona is my favorite city after Paris. The town is dripping with culture (see some of Gaudi’s architecture) and never fails to titillate my artistic and culinary desires. It is a delightful city for walking and a favorite pastime of my wife and I, is to amble randomly around town. On a trip around 2009, we set off to climb Montjuïc, a hill that dominates part of the skyline. We walked at random, using sightings of the hill as a reference. This is a delightfully pleasant way to explore a town. (I’ve done the same in Paris using the Sacre Coeur Basilica as a geographic reference). The walk was somewhat more arduous than expected, and we arrived wearier and hotter than expected.
Montjuïc Hill houses the Miro foundation (well worth the visit) and among other venues, the Museum of Catalan Art and the Ethnological Museum. After an afternoon exploring Spanish culture especially the large exhibit about Barcelona’s “Roma” population, my wife, daughter and myself decided to take the subway back to the center of town where we had rented an apartment.
As I was buying tickets from the machine, I again experienced the jostling I had felt years ago in New York. Once more a hand was extracting bills from my pocket. I belted the kid with my fist and as he fell down, I saw him put my money in his pocket. He scrambled up to flee but I grabbed him, put my hand in his pocket, seized my money and shoved him away. He and his other 2 friends scarpered and disappeared in seconds. My wife was looking on with horror, as she had no idea how violent I could be. On the other hand, my daughter was gazing at me with renewed appreciation of her dad. Back in the apartment, I counted my money and was delighted to find that I had taken a large wad of extra money from the kid’s pocket. In fact, it was around 200 Euros. The irony of this brought a smile to my lips.