I knew coming over to France that I would get a lot of attention. My blonde hair makes me stick out like a sore thumb in this country. However, I never thought the attention would be this extreme.
I have to say that I’m already incredibly sick of a lot of people in this country. I’ve survived a pickpocketing experience, multiple stare downs and today I survived my first potential mugging. Yeah, that’s right. I said MUGGING.
I’ll start from the beginning. The first week in France, we were in Paris. I loved the city. Marvelous and beautiful. However, I had one little (BIG) incident that I believe has forever scarred me to the core. I was pickpocketed. Here I am minding my own business trying to get to L’Arc de Triomphe and the next thing I know, there’s some little gypsy girl up on me trying to get me to sign a blank sheet of paper. I realized something was up when she wouldn’t get off of me so I decided to check my pocket for my phone. Yeah, stupid me I left my phone in my jean jacket pocket instead of hiding it. Well, as I’m reaching into my pocket to make sure I still have my phone, she’s pulling her hand out of my pocket with my phone! Next thing I knew, she had my phone hidden under her clipboard that she was carrying and don’t ask me how, but somehow I knew where it was and I just snatched it right back out of her hand and turned away to get as far away from her as possible before I beat the living daylights out of her.
There’s my first horrible incident in France.
Then, today I had an incident with a man at the ATM. Stupid me (again), I think that I’m invincible and that nothing bad will happen to me. This entire trip thus far has proven that I’m indeed entirely incorrect in that state of mind. Everything bad that happens to someone over here always happens to me. Anyway, this is the story.
I leave lunch and everybody else to go to the ATM to withdraw some money because I’m getting low. The ATM was only a couple blocks away so I thought I’d be completely fine. I was wrong. As I’m putting in my PIN number, a man comes up behind me and starts to talk to me. He asks says hi and asks me how I’m doing and starts to ramble. I glance quickly at him and then away disgusted, but I probably shouldn’t have looked at him at all. Well, I’m still trying to withdraw money and he keeps talking to me. He starts to now talk in French and ask if I speak French. Again, I don’t answer and I don’t even acknowledge his presence. He still goes on trying to ask me why I’m not answering him and why I won’t say hi and trying to get me to talk to him and I’m assuming trying to distract me. Well by this point my heart is racing as fast as it can and I’m about to have a heart attack. Here I am, a little, blonde American girl trying to withdraw a large amount of money in a foreign country and there’s a huge man hovering over me, obviously trying to get something from me. As soon as the machine spits out my card, I snatch it up and when it gives me my money I grab on and hold for dear life so that this jerk can’t take anything from me. I rip my receipt out of the machine and speed walk away from him around the corner. He was still calling after me by the time I rounded the corner, but I’d gotten away from him and I was safe. Then, I realized my phone wasn’t in my back pocket. Frantically, I searched throughout my purse for it and started to panic. I swore I had (stupidly, again) left my phone in my back pocket and now it wasn’t there. I was sure that jerk had stolen my phone at this point. I started sprinting back to the restaurant, praying to God that I had miraculously left my phone on the table and forgotten to bring it with me. I reach the doors to the restaurant and search the table with my eyes before even getting to it. Yup, there it was. I’d left my phone on the table with all of my friends and everything was okay. I’d survived the potential mugging and he didn’t get away with anything. Having your guard up at all times really does pay off. I’ve learned not to trust anyone except the people you know in this country. By now I’m ALWAYS on alert for the next person who’s on the lookout to take something from me. And this isn’t even the last part of my story.
After a six hour train ride from Cannes back to Lyon, I’m exhausted. We all were. As all four of us eventually separate and go our separate ways to head home, Auburn and I are left alone in the metro station waiting for our bus to take us all the way home. It’s at this point that a huge, drunk man walks into the station and sits down on the bench next to us. As he walks in, he says something to us in French about asking how we’re doing. Of course, we ignore him. Next thing I know, he’s rambling on and on and Auburn and I both think he’s talking on a cell phone. Nope, we were wrong. Five minutes later, I feel something hit me. I look down and see that he had thrown at bottle cap at me and hit me. I look up speechless and in disbelief at Auburn as she screams, “EXCUSE YOU,” and he mumbles something about making us mad. We get up to get away from him and he starts to ramble and get upset about us leaving, which was pretty terrifying in itself. We walk around the corner and get away from him and I can’t help but almost burst into tears.
The way that men treat women over here is ridiculous. I’ve never felt so abused or targeted in my life. It’s honestly disgusting. And that means a lot coming from me. Anyone who knows me knows that I love a good compliment and love flattery. So, if you have me disgusted and hating every man that I see around me, you know it’s a pretty big deal.
So, there you have it. Three weeks in France and I’ve already been through more than what most people go through in their entire lives. But I can say that I’ve survived all of it and it’s made me more cautious and taught me to never let my guard down. I love this country and I love this experience but the male mentality around here has me on edge.