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July 6, 2007


I have an amusing anecdote from my stay in Madrid, that I thought I would share. But then I read this, and realized that I had been totally out-classed.

Still, I hope that, after you’ve read PsychoPhil’s story and cleaned the coffee off your keyboard, you’ll indulge me as I recount my more modest tale.

I arrived in Madrid on Sunday morning, and made my way to my hotel on Madrid’s excellent Metro system. The stop at which I had to change trains was approaching, and I stood up to made my way towards the door. With my garment bag slung over one shoulder and my book bag over the other, somewhat dishevelled from having spent the last umpteen hours crammed into an economy-class seat on a trans-Atlantic flight, I must not have been a very pretty sight.

So I was a little surprised when an attractive young woman, standing by the door, smiled pleasantly at me. I smiled back, and then looked away. When I looked back a moment later, she was … gone. I looked around the car, but she’d vanished! “That’s odd,” I thought. But I didn’t think much more about it, as I got off the train and made my way to the next platform.

It was then that I noticed that the outer pocket of my book bag was unzipped. “Uh oh!” I thought, as I began to rummage inside it. But, no, my iPod was still there, along with all the other items … except … for a bottle of fountain-pen ink in a ziploc bag.

It took a while for me to get around to replacing the bottle of ink, but aside from that, no lasting harm was done.

So I’d like to thank you Señorita, wherever you are. I got a fair amount of amusement out of the episode. I hope you found something equally useful to do with the ink.

Posted by distler at July 6, 2007 2:23 PM

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Re: Filched

They like to try for hard small boxes, it seems it is a easy object to extract. Eyeglasses and other optical aids are very typical. Once my sister and other girl were targeted while sleeping in a train station in Paris, and they got to stole her friend’s eyeglasses, completely ruining two weeks of archeological camp. In other ocassion, we were working with the computational groups in La Sapienza and one of our team was expected to carry a set of cheap but not easy to find chips to the engineers in Rome (It was the APE project and some parallel computation machines after this project). He was rounded by small children in Roma Termini and they got exactly the box, delaying for some weeks the project.

Posted by: Alejandro Rivero on July 6, 2007 4:11 PM | Permalink | Reply to this

Re: Filched

No, you’ve got it all wrong! Clearly, your mystery acquaintance has no interests in an iPod or other trinkets of consumerism. But the ink of the scholar is more sacred than the blood of the martyr.

Posted by: Volker Braun on July 6, 2007 5:41 PM | Permalink | Reply to this

Re: Filched

Nice little post thanks for the heads up and I wonder what their face expression(s) was when they realised it was ink?


Posted by: Pottz on July 8, 2007 3:29 AM | Permalink | Reply to this

Re: Filched

Something similar happened to me 10 years ago when I was in a study-abroad program in Budapest during college. One day, I got to class and found that my backpack had been opened and (drumroll, please) my pen & pencil bag had been stolen. I like to think of the look on the thief’s face. Later that semester, I was riding on a crowded tram. I had one arm over my bag and one up holding onto the bar for balance when I noticed someone sticking their hand into my front pocket (where I had my wallet). I quickly slapped their hand and managed to keep my wallet. I did have to surf that tram for the rest of the trip, though…

Posted by: A Frey on July 9, 2007 10:37 AM | Permalink | Reply to this

Re: Filched

I got “nicked” in S. Africa, my guide stole my video camera!

Posted by: joe on July 25, 2007 7:38 PM | Permalink | Reply to this

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