I got robbed today. No, I do not mean it metaphorically. Mom, before you freak out, let me tell you that we are all fine. E was with me, but she did not even notice what happened.
I went to the local market that I love so much. I love it so much that I guess I let my guard down. The weather is beautiful here…finally. I mention this only because the market was bustling. Everyone was out and in a good mood. I was kind of in a hurry. I was not interested in buying a pair of knock-off sandals like so many of the other people there today. I just wanted to get to the fresh produce section and get some fruit for a picnic tomorrow with friends.
I took some money out at the ATM in front of the market. I should have gotten money out of the ATM at my house, but this just seemed more convenient. The police think someone followed me from the ATM and targeted me. I think I was just an opportunity for someone walking by.
I stopped at a fruit and veg stall and picked out strawberries, raspberries, bananas, and some peaches. I turned away from the market stall worker and reached in my diaper bag that was hanging on my stroller. The diaper bag was open and my wallet was gone. I searched and searched and took everything out of my diaper bag just to make sure.
And what does the market stall owner do and say? Is she helpful or sympathetic? She should have had a direct view of whomever touched my bag. She tells me it is my fault that my wallet got stolen. She gets impatient at having to put back all the fruit she just bagged for me. She told me I should not have walked away from my diaper bag. I get it. I should have worn my purse, but I was literally two steps away from my purse. My foot was touching the wheel of my stroller.
What was my first reaction? I remember turning and seeing two teenagers staring at me and eating something. I felt like they saw what happened, but I just did not want to confront them. I just started walking. E was fine. She was quite and very busy watching the people walking past her in the stroller. For some reason, I went straight to the ATM at the opposite end of the market. I guess I thought the robber would immediately try to withdrawal some money. On the way to the ATM, I scanned the stalls and people looking for something strange. I was hoping the bastard would just drop my wallet after he took the money. My identity was in that wallet – my debit card, my residence card, my driver’s license, my insurance card and 75 euros. It is all gone. No one pulled out a brown and pink Coach wristlet like mine. No one tried to use a green debit card like mine. I called my husband to tell him. What did he say? “Jesus! How did you do that?!”
“It was your fault.” Those were the first words out of every person’s mouth. What is it with Dutch people? I went to the market’s office to report the crime. I rang the door of the office and had to explain over the intercom that my wallet had just been stolen. A woman buying fried fish from the take-out window at the shop next door started shaking her head, clucked her tongue, clutched her purse a little tighter, leaned towards me and told me I should have been more careful. What?! This lady that I didn’t know and just happened to be trying to overhear my conversation is being critical of me! The guard in the market office was nice enough to come down and explain to me in English that there was nothing they would do for me. He pointed me in the direction of the closest police department.
My husband was with it enough to immediately call the bank and freeze my debit card. I had to walk home because my public transport card was also stolen. E was quite and great through it all. On the long walk home, I realized that I was okay. E was fine. That is what matters. I will replace my residence permit and debit card everyday as long as E is safe and sound. I was still pissed, though. And I did feel stupid. I traveled throughout Southeast Asia mostly alone and did not have so much as a toothbrush stolen from me. I was the crazy one that other backpackers made fun of with the full wire mesh backpack lock that I wound through the sturdiest piece of furniture I could find in my hotel room. I got robbed less than two miles from my house at 1:15 in the afternoon.
The police officer that took my statement was actually the most empathetic person I talked to. I take that back. My husband was much more empathetic after I reminded him that my wallet had been zipped inside my bag and, no, I did not just wave it around in the air asking someone to take it. She, the police officer, took my statement in a non-judgmental way and told me that in the center of Den Haag pick pocketing happens several times per day and even more often in the market I was in. I think she said this to make me feel better, not so stupid perhaps, but it will make me more paranoid. I have to stop myself from staring down everyone I cross paths with. Besides, that is a lot of people to stare down. It is exhausting and I know I seem a bit crazy. I have to remember my sunglasses next time I go out so people cannot see me giving them the stink eye. Just kidding….kind of.