I almost got scammed today. Here’s what happened:
I was strolling leisurely along the Seine, thinking to myself that
storm clouds made Paris look dramatic, whereas they made London look
depressing. I noticed a girl approaching me from the opposite
direction, so I stepped aside to let her pass. Before I reached her,
she bent down to examine an object on the ground. I kept going.
“Madame,” she cried, “Madame!”
I turned around to see her holding out a hideous gold ring.
“It’s not mine,” I said in English.
“Not yours?” She said in French.
I shook my head and continued to walk.
“But it has an engraving,” she said, again in French. “Look!”
I looked. I saw nothing. But my eyes aren’t that good, so I thought I just might be missing it.
“18k,” she said.
She expected me to believe that this crappy trinket was 18 karat gold? I shook my head again and tried to leave.
“I don’t wear jewelry,” she said.
“I don’t either,” I said, gesturing at my ears and neck before
realising that I had put on a necklace that morning. Idiot! I was
caught, and she insisted that I take the ring.
“OK,” I said. “Merci.”
As I walked away, I thought about what I would do with it. Maybe it was real gold. I’d definitely pawn it. Then I heard her again.
This time, I really couldn’t understand what she was saying. She
seemed to be asking for something, something small, and then she began
to pretend like she was smoking. But I heard the word ‘coca,’ which I
thought meant coca-cola, but I started to think meant crack.
She wanted me to give her money as thanks for a gaudy piece of costume
jewelry that I now knew she had been holding in her hand the whole
“I don’t have anything,” I lied. “And I don’t speak French.”
“But you do speak French,” she insisted.
She said something about not having a job, and really threw herself
into pleading. Since her hands were already outstretched, I pressed
the ring back into her palm.
“You keep it,” I said, and walked way clutching my handbag tightly. I
was convinced that she had used her criminal wiles to extract my wallet
without me noticing. She hadn’t.
I still looked at everyone with renewed suspicion for the rest of the day.
I got scammed anyway when I got to the Eiffel Tower and paid 3.50 euro
for a small ice cream cone that splattered all over my shirt during a
violent gust of wind.
Despite this, most of the people I’ve encountered have been friendly,
and Paris hasn’t lost its sparkle for me. Tomorrow, I’ll hit the Sacre
Coeur and try to get some photos up – having some problems uploading
with this wireless connection, so will have to get that sorted.