Monday, July 04, 2011

Robbed!

So yesterday I experienced a first. 

For the first time in all my years of traveling I was robbed!

I've been warned a million times about theft in Nairobi (a.k.a. "Nairobbery"), abut the endless string of thugs and tricksters and pickpockets roaming the streets, but apart from a few close calls, I've never fallen victim... until now.

Yesterday I boarded a 24 bus from the Kencom bus station downtown.  I sat next to the window, listening to This American Life and generally just tuning everything out. 

Then, a couple of pretty sketchy guys got on the bus and started looking for seats.  One of them sat next to me.  I was a bit cautious, but the bus was nearly full, so I didn't think much of it.

Once the bus started rolling, the guy sitting next to me "dropped" a few coins.  Like the nice guy I am, I helped to pick them up.  He seemed really concerned that there was another coin somewhere, so he asked to switch me seats.  I begrudgingly accepted.

By this point, I was getting really suspicious... This guy seemed a bit off for some reason.  I held my backpack on my lap and checked and re-checked that all the zippers were secured.

At one point, he said something about a police checkpoint and put on his seat belt.  Knowing that police used to really crack down on passengers not wearing seat belts, I put mine on as well.

A few minutes later, he and his friend got off the bus.  As they were walking to the front, I shook my head wondering what that was all about.  My backpack was totally fine, and there was no way they could have gotten into my pockets... I had jeans on.

Wait.  My pockets!  I felt my pockets and realized that my small local Nokia phone in my left pocket was completely gone.  My right pocket, which once held 100 shillings (about $1) was also empty.

Robbed!

Somehow in the midst of all the shuffling and seat belts and coin dropping, the trickster was able to get into both pockets, take the contents and walk away without me feeling a thing!

I immediately ran to the front of the bus and yelled that my phone had been stolen, but by the time I reached the door, the bus had already moved ahead about a quarter mile.  I jumped off and started running back to where the thieves alighted, but it was clear that they were long gone.

Thankfully, the phone was cheap and I had an almost identical backup in my suitcase that just needed a new battery.  I was even able to get my old number back on my new phone.  Apart from a few lost phone numbers, I'm back to where I was just one day ago.

I guess, apart from a valuable learning experience, I can take consolation in one thing... When the pickpockets finally looked at what they had stolen from the ignorant mzungu (white person), they must have been sorely disappointed.  After taking into account their fare for the bus and a matatu back to town, they made off with a $15 phone and about $0.23 in change. 

I hope it was worth it, jerkwads!  :)

5 comments:

iwu2012breanna said...

You are a great storyteller, even if this is an unfortunately story. I think it's ironic that I also am abroad and recently had my cheapo cell phone stolen while caught in a crowd pretest, but likewise it's really nice to still be able to have the same number.
At least you can still be optimistic that it wasn't something very expensive that was taken, and you were able to replace it!
Hope the rest of your time in Nairobi is theft-free.
-Breanna

iwu2012breanna said...

You are a great storyteller, even if this is an unfortunately story. I think it's ironic that I also am abroad and recently had my cheapo cell phone stolen while caught in a crowd pretest, but likewise it's really nice to still be able to have the same number.
At least you can still be optimistic that it wasn't something very expensive that was taken, and you were able to replace it!
Hope the rest of your time in Nairobi is theft-free.
-Breanna

bonny said...

pole sana mzingu, holla me on my email then we could have coffee one of this day if you are not too busy

Tasha Simons said...

Sorry to hear you were robbed. So glad you are OK. Todd and I walked to a new park here in England tonight and I was worried about getting robbed as we didn't quite know the area. I just relate to your story. Take care, Barry! Tasha

Elizaneth said...

Sorry about your robbery. I heard that is the way to get ripped off in Las Vegas. The thief will drop token near your feet and when you bend over to pick it up, he will steal the rest of your stuff. By the way based on playing with your I Phone in Haiti, I finally moved into the high tech world. Bondye beni ou.