Sunday, June 15, 2014

Who's the Ugly American Now?

Well, I told you there would be foibles. Didn't I tell you that? 

My baggage is not as light as I would like. Let's see, I could have skipped the rain jacket, such a necessity in the Pacific Northwest, but dead weight here. I should also have left my long sleeved shirt at home. I brought too much food. 

Really, bringing pepperoni to Germany? The gall. Granted, I really do like my pepperoni. It held up to a comparison to the real thing, barely. I swear it did. 

I think I've used everything else, but I could have managed with three sets of clothes rather than four. If it hadn't been so hot, I could have gotten two or three days out of a shirt and a pair of pants. Ah well. 

My fanny pack is a failure. The little buckle keeps popping open. Who wants their passport, wallet, and tickets dropping off when you're trying to shove your oversized suitcase into the overhead compartment on the train?

I have a cold now too and all I want is soup and tea. It's been really hard to enjoy anything except the moment when I sink into that down pillow under a fluffy duvet.  Now, that is the way for all hotels in the United States to go, a sheet-covered duvet and a deep pillow. Last night, I texted Mike and asked him if I could change my tickets and come home early. He said I should wait, since I'd feel my worst on the plane then. I suppose he's right and the pillow and duvet helped. 

Not to say too much, but I prefer Swiss and German toilet paper to that of the French. It's sturdy. It means business. The stuff we all use at home is either like the tissue paper I found in France or leaves little bits behind. Sorry. TMI. But I have to say-go Swiss! Go German!

Now, I'm really going to tell you the rest. I don't want to. It's embarrassing. It turns out that I am a racist though I didn't realize it. I'm so sorry. I didn't intend to be. 

I was in line with Mary and Bree for a boat ride. We had eaten lunch at an outdoor cafe where I enjoyed the scent of the waiter as much as the gruyere salad I ordered. Tall foreign black men were weaving through the tourists selling hats, belts, and other junk. These guys made me nervous. Do you know how it feels when people come too close and won't back away? That's how I felt around them. 

We window shopped and then I stopped to get some cash from an ATM. Before I walked away, I checked to see if everything, passport, wallet, spare cash was in place. I could swear that I tapped my front left pocket to feel the spare credit card I'd been carrying in case I lost my wallet. As I looked up, another one, or the same one of those junk sellers approached us. They seriously made me nervous. 

Then, as we stood in the long line and I wondered how so many people would fit on the boat, one of them cut through the line behind me. I felt a light tap on my shoulder and he was gone. 

Then, I really did feel my front left pocket and I discovered that my Visa card was gone! I checked and double checked. No Visa. 

Of course I told my sister, my niece, the people around me, the attendants at the boat. I called Mike, at 5:30 am his time, and I called, finally, to my credit card people to cancel the card. 

That reminds me. I need to call them back. 

I should go back and tell you about the warnings I read on the internet. I should tell you about Bree's story of pickpockets being trained in Barcelona and sent all over to work. I should tell you that Mary said even women with small children are doing it. One would distract you and the other would lift your valuables. It would be sufficient to say that I was primed. I was well and truly primed. Plus, I have a raging cold, my head is ballooned and wobbly, and my eyes are swollen slits. 

My taste buds still work though, and this Starbucks chocolate croissant I'm eating sucks. My latte is good though. Starbucks would never be able to compete with French pastries though would they?

So I accused those junk dealers of pick pocketing my Visa card. I told the boat officials that I couldn't identify which one, but that I was certain one of them had taken it. 

What an idiot. 

What a racist idiot. 

I cried quietly though the boat ride after I finished my calls, wished I could go home early, hiked hot streets to retrieve my suitcase, schlepped my stuff onto two trains though a rail workers strike, tried to rest my eyes while Bree and Mary chattered, and lugged my stuff onto a final tram before arriving back in Zurich at our hotel. This place was home, bed, fluffy pillow, duvet, soup, and hot tea. 

Then, before crawling under my duvet for the night, I combed through all my junk, the excess of food, jacket, heavy shirt, all of it. 

And there, in the front left pocket of my blue jeans that I had abandoned to capris at 9:00 that morning, was my Visa card. It was just where I'd left it, just not quite where I had thought I'd left it. 

Thank you for listening, jb

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