My good Samaritan moment in the Paris Metro

Metro via Shutterstock

So, on my way back from taking Cat Girl to the vet earlier this week for her check-up following chemo, I stumbled upon two would-be pickpockets in the Paris Metro.

As I was making my way up the stairs from the platform, something seemed odd with the guy in front of me who kept looking back down the stairs. Even carrying Nasdaq over my shoulder, I could move faster than the guy in front of me which struck me as a bit strange since he was so much younger than me.

There seemed to be a bit of a traffic jam because the guy in front of him was following close behind a woman as we headed for the exit. As we came to the heavy door to exit (not one of the automatic double-doors, but the full sized door that does require some pushing to open) ,I thought I noticed the guy ahead slip his hand into the woman’s purse. She had one of those large purses that is open at the top, the kind that everyone says are easy to rob. As we turned the corner I could see that the guy, now two people in front of me, had something.  So I yelled loudly in hopes of making a scene.

It worked.

The pickpocket immediately started talking back to me, while he threw the woman’s purse on the steps as though somehow he didn’t just try robbing her. I wasn’t thrilled when he walked towards me, and was relieved when he backed off. At around the same time, his friend who was bigger than me also moved towards me, and I really started to worry about my decision. I’m an average sized guy and I don’t have a menacing look, so I was concerned that the two guys might make quick work of me.

Our little “Cat Girl” making mincemeat of George W. Bush.

Somehow I looked angry enough and caused enough people to start staring at the pickpocket team that they scampered away quickly, but not before the woman unloaded on the pickpocket and slapped him hard in the face. She thanked me and said that her wallet was full of valuables (ID card, credit card, cash).

It was an odd event that had me wound up for a while after, but I’m glad that I was able to stop this one incident. I would hope others would do the same for me or for friends and family, but it’s not easy calling someone out in public wondering what might happen next.

The first thing an English friend said, when I told him about it, was that while it was a good deed, he was stabbed doing the same in London years ago. In the US, where a lot more people carry guns I suspect it could be even worse worse.

My wife Jojo spoke with a station manager on the Metro later that day who confirmed that that particular line (Line 6) is a magnet for pickpockets since it stops at the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe. The pickpockets are routinely picked up, but then released to do it again, apparently. I’m glad that I could help someone this week without the problem escalating into something bad.

An American in Paris, France. BA in History & Political Science from Ohio State. Provided consulting services to US software startups, launching new business overseas that have both IPO’d and sold to well-known global software companies. Currently launching a new cloud-based startup. Full bio here.

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