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Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving! We just got back from a trip to London, England! Well we got back on Tuesday. The trip was great because I was not on any medication and had no dietary restrictions, and the food and drink in London is top notch. But we did hit a snag at the beginning of the trip.

Here’s what happened: there’s a train called the Heathrow Express that takes you from the airport to London. You have to buy tickets for the Heathrow Express. When we were in the tunnel walking toward the Heathrow Express, we bought round trip tickets for a discount price.

We arrived at the entrance to the Heathrow Express, and next to the entrance there is a station to buy Oyster cards. Oyster cards allow you to ride the Tube (London’s subway) and use the bus transportation system. We bought two Oyster cards and put 20 pounds on them, thinking that would get us through the week.

Then we exited to get to the Heathrow Express, but instead of using my Express voucher, I used my Oyster card! Since there were Oyster signs all over the machine, I thought it was an Oyster machine! It deducted 9 pounds and let me through. David said, “No! You were supposed to use the Express ticket!” I was beside myself, because I had just wasted 9 pounds. We found a station attendant who told us this amount would not really be deducted. (He was incorrect.) I felt like I had wasted money the entire ride from the Express to Paddington Station.

At Paddington Station we carted our luggage down to a transfer line on the Tube. Mobile phones don’t work in the tunnel, so I pulled out a Tube map. “Put away that map please,” David said, because he was worried it made us look like tourists. We had luggage with us and David was wearing sweatpants, so I thought we looked like tourists anyway, and we were tourists, so I thought playing the part would be fine. One of the people in the rush hour commute asked where we were looking for, and he told us, so we thanked him and headed in that direction. We boarded our train which was packed to the brim. I had to climb up on a ledge at one point to make space. I couldn’t believe how packed every train car was.

When we exited our Tube train car, David patted his pockets and said, “I don’t have my wallet.” We had been pick-pocketed! The thief made off with 180 pounds, a 20 pound Oyster card, and a lot of credit cards and license information. Unbelievable! We found a station attendant and shared we had been pick pocketed. “Well you’re in a big city, this happens, they work in teams,” he said.
“We’ve never been pick-pocketed in New York,” I replied, to signal we’re not country bumpkins.
“Well you’re not tourists in New York, are you? I bet your tourists get pick-pocketed.”
He had a point I couldn’t refute on the spot. And I couldn’t very well tell him we are tourists in New York too, lest I lose the city credentials I had just established.

Then he told us, “Okay, here is the number for the police department. The chances you get your wallet back are 0.” He made an “O” shape with his fingers for emphasis. “But you can report it for statistics.” We said thank you, and we asked how to exit the station without an Oyster card, and he said to just tell them what happened, and they would let us exit. He was right; people were sympathetic and quick to open the gate.

When we got to the hotel, David cancelled all his cards and got a new license. I learned a valuable lesson about not fretting about small mistakes (the Express/Oyster mishap) because it can decrease your mental acuity and open you up to bigger mistakes! David learned a valuable lesson about not storing his wallet in his sweatpants pocket, which we realized is rife for pick-pocketing.

David was annoyed and very thoughtful about the whole thing. Later in the day he said, “Better us than some kid where 180 pounds would have been their hostel fee or destroyed their month.”

Published in Social Life UK Edition

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