I think someone just tried to steal something from my purse. I was walking up the stairs at BART when I felt this slight tugging sensation on my bag. Thinking it was caught on my jacket, I adjusted it slightly. Then I heard what sounded like velcro being pulled apart. I turned around quickly to find a guy on the stairs behind me right on my heels and the flap on my purse lifted halfway up. I gave him a dirty look and pulled my purse around in front of me. After I was sure he was no longer behind me, I checked my belongings to make sure they were all there. They were.
I’m usually pretty careful and alert while walking around. I tend to be hyper-aware of sounds in particular and that sixth sense that tells you when someone is behind you is usually in over-drive. So it was unnerving to find this man so close behind me without my having detected it. I think it was because I was still in the BART station – a place I consider to be a “safe zone,” and where there are a lot of people surrounding and bumping into me all the time anyway.
It’s a sign of toughness – or maybe sophistication – to feel comfortable or safe in a city. To admit otherwise is somehow very un-cool. While it doesn’t prevent me from living my life, I don’t think I’ll ever fully let my guard down here. I’m sure most people would tell me this is smart, which it probably is, but it can be exhausting in the same way that being the model foreigner in Japan was exhausting. It’s a minor stress – one that I’m not usually aware of, but one that’s there all the same.
I know I got lucky today. The man wasn’t the slickest of pick-pockets (if that’s even what was going on – who knows, maybe my jacket really was caught on the flap and I did all that by myself) and my bag is not an easy one to get into (especially frustrating while trying to pay at checkouts). I spent the rest of my trip being annoyed with myself for not being more careful and aware…all the while keeping one hand on my bag and glancing periodically over my shoulder.