Monday, January 14, 2008

Story of my Snatch

So I spend three days on a plane coming halfway around the world to help this glorified sandcastle of a country count its poor people, and what thanks do I get? Purse snatching.

I was sitting at a restaurant with two other women I work with. We had had a great Burmese dinner and where just finishing up our beers. I untied my purse from the chair (simple precautions) and set it on the ground to pay. At which time some asshole takes it upon himself to run in off the street, grab it, and take off.

When something like this happens, your brain runs through the options. Do I scream? Do I try to catch him? What if he is armed? Will anyone help me? Alas, while Brain was counting votes, Legs had declared martial law, and I found myself running full speed down a pitch black street in a dangerous third world country – chasing a potentially armed robber. (Security officer gave me holy hell for this the next day.) My determination was apparently inspiring to the otherwise unoccupied restless youth hanging about the area and they joined in the chase. Cheering me on in English, of course. (Theft! Theft! Catch him!) A guy took off on a motorcycle and just caught up to my little purse snatcher, just as he leapt over the seawall and disappeared. Brain was back in control enough to keep me from following him onto the beach. It was all over but canceling the credit cards.

In order to file an insurance claim, however, I would need a police report. The extremely nice and apologetic restaurant owner helped us call the Timorese police. Alas, as it was Saturday night, they were otherwise occupied. So we set about trying to contact one of the 1600 UN police occupying the city. The first number we were given was answered by an extremely drunk soldier, who apparently puked into the phone before his buddy, helpfully, took the phone and told us we were actually calling the New Zealand soldiers’ barracks on Saturday night. They won’t be of much assistance. Forty-five minutes had gone by and we were no closer to my police report. Fortunately we were right next door to a popular nightspot, so we walked over and found a couple of soldiers playing pool. They were nice enough to lend me a phone and call some more sober colleagues to take me to the police station. Poor Nigerians, they get screwed with the Saturday night peacekeeping shifts.

And that is that. Spent most of my Sunday off trying to call and cancel everything that needed calling and canceling. Getting lectured by the security officer. Chase thinks that they can reissue my credit card in six business days. The nice phone lady also wanted to know what state East Timor was in. I’ll keep you posted on that. And sorry I have no pictures for this post, but you will be happy to know that I didn’t have my camera in my bag, so there will be future pictures to be had.


Anonymous said...

I know that Erin will laugh at this suggestion, but I wear a belly pack when I go to NYC. Looks stupid but my hands are free. That probably sounds dorky to you too but it works for me. Your Mom had dinner here tonight so she told me of your latest robbery - so sorry Kristen but at least your camera was SAFE.

Anonymous said...

I am certain that the impoverished people of Dili are sincerely grateful for your generous contribution. You must be a true humanitarian. I am suprised that you were not bowled over by one of the fleets of UN Police vehicles that patrol the streets of Dili. It must have been happy hour or perhaps they sensed that some crime had been committed that would have involved them actually getting out of their car at some point.
Safe journey!

blog49 said...
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