Last night my wallet was lifted in Times Square. It’s mostly my fault because I’m a lifelong New Yorker and should have known better. We were leaving a Broadway theater and I stopped to buy something on the street, showing my wallet. Since we were about to get in a cab I simply shoved it into my coat pocket, instead of where it usually rests- a front side pants pocket that is nearly impossible to breach. Unfortunately the coat pocket was wide open and that area is always very crowded so you are very likely to inadvertently bump into someone and not think twice about it. I didn’t even realize it was gone until I got home and was trying to pay for the cab.
You usually hear about pickpockets in major European cities, but not very often here, although an area like Times Square is full of clueless tourists, making it an ideal spot for thieves. Whoever did it made a good score because it was a Gucci wallet with $400-$500 in cash, several credit cards, driver’s license, and since I’m old enough for Medicare a card with my Social Security number. So I immediately had to contact all the credit card companies affected to cancel and replace them, as well as my bank and medical cards. That was not as easy as it was supposed to be, and in some cases and I wound up screaming at the phone all night. Then there was the Driver’s license, which proved to be a major hassle, requiring me to go file a police report today and get a form, before I could go to the NY State Motor Vehicle Department.
I don’t think I’ve been in a police station since I was a kid, when the cops took me and some high school friends inside and beat the crap out of us, but we deserved it. In those days we used to hang out at an ice cream parlor in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, and the police precinct was right across the street. For the police it was a cushy assignment since the crime rate in the area was very low so they had little to do. As a result they were constantly harassing us for simply hanging out. Back then once assigned there, they became embedded in the neighborhood, and became ever more nasty and corrupt (but I must emphasize not today; it was a different world). Then they had a sort of ceremony called “changing of the guard,” where the cops would line up in formation in their uniforms, sort of like the military. We were really fed up with loitering harassment, endless j-walking tickets, etc. so I concoct a scheme one day to bombard the formation with eggs. Most of them missed, but they managed to catch us and haul us into the precinct and exact painful retribution.
Both places are long gone now, but some fifty years later, when I walked into another precinct where I live now, not all that much was different. For routine matters they still operated at two speeds- slow and reverse. You are sent to a room staffed by a police academy cadet and some aides, are give a long form to fill out, and then have to wait for them to complete other paperwork and after an inordinate amount of time are given a form to take to the DMV. I had to list all the missing items and check a box for stolen or lost, so I check the former, but was told that since it wasn’t absolutely certain that they were stolen, I had to make changes and check “lost.” Now I understand why the city’s crime statistics are still so low; if something is only lost then there is no crime to report, so now the figures begin to make sense.
Then I still had to put a freeze on my account with all the credit bureaus, and a few other things. The moral of the story is: 1. Don’t carry anything in your wallet unless you absolutely need it at the moment, 2. Men should always keep their wallets in the front pants pocket and never in an open coat pocket, 3. Have a list of all your card numbers ready, 4. Be vigilant when you go somewhere like Times Square.