Monday, February 18, 2008

Pick Pocket

Last Saturday (Feb. 16,2008), I've boarded a PUJ to go home. I have been at our old home in Dau to fetch my share of what my brother had sent me from the U.S. Without further doodooowopdoowaah, here's what happened.

I was now inside the PUJ, and as usual i sat myself on the first row, right side of the driver's back.  More passengers came. Right in front of me is a woman and besides her was a man. As the jeep rolled off and went for Magalang, I've notice that the man keeps on looking over the woman's shoulder. At first I thought that he was a peeping tom and keeps on peeping over the woman's cleavage. However, the woman is all buttoned up to her neck and there's no way that the man could see them milk cans. So I've just let him be.

Pretending that I'm sleepy, I slouched on my seat, yawned and put my right hand over my temple covering my eyes. Then I saw four fingers reaching for the woman's tote bag. Slowly I've straigthened up, assessing the situation. And it goes like this.

The man's left hand is holding on the overhead bar. The man has a backpack on his lap. The backpack is not right side up, nor is it sitting flat on his lap. The backpack is positioned sideways so as to cover the right arm all the way from the armpit.

Now, based from what I am witnessing, my theory therefore unfolds into truth, I conclude that the man is a pickpocket. Nothing more nothing less.

My heart is now beating in overtime, I could feel that I am getting listless. What to do now? I asked myself. Should I grab on the overhead bar and give the man a two footed kick on his head with all my might and send him flying off the jeep's window, timing it so that a vehicle coming from the opposite direction will end the job? Should I give him a two footed kick on his groin or his chest and just keep on pounding on my target? Quick Oti, think!

I could do that, really. But then, it came to my thinking that this man is probably not alone. So I've looked at him straight on his eyes and when he realized that I am looking at him, I stared on his hidden arm and his not so hidden fingers. I was saying to him "I know what you are trying to do." I wanted to see if he's going to make any eye contact to another passenger and therefore probably points to a cohort with his eyes. And he did.

I saw for an inkling of an eye that he looked (more like a glimpse, actually) to a man besides a passenger who is beside me (get that?), meaning, a seat away from me. From the backview mirror I saw that this other man took a glimpse to another passenger on the opposite seat who is visibly pretending to be texting but took a quick glance on me. Is there another?

I made a subtle look out of the jeepney's back and counted heads. 9 passengers on each side. My side has only two men. The cohort and me. On the opposite side only two men, too, the pickpocket and the texting cohort.

That's three against one. No contest. Let the pickpocket have whatever he came for. Don't risk your life again, Oti.

Why'd I say "Don't risk your life again, Oti?" It's because something like this happened to me once and it involves a watch. I've documented that, and will share it to you sometimes. It is in my "lumang baul".

But I just can't just let go of this unfolding event. I am seeing a crime about to be committed, and all I'll be doing is watch it till the end? By golly, no can do. There must be something, there must be something, something.

Try to scare them off.... Off with what?

I am carrying a large bag, lying there on the jeepney's flooring. My arsenal includes 3 chocolate packs, 4 briefs, 2 jeans, 1 shirt and one large set of Nail Polish/Make-up Kit. I am also carrying on my lap an aquarium water filter and two pieces of soft and fluppy nylon filters. That's my deadly arsenal. Nothing to do but play pretend. So...

I've reached on the big bag grab a chocolate pack and made it look like I was holding on to something pointed. For a long time my hand is grabbing the chewy pack and could feel it slowly melting. I did not let go. And I keep my eyes focused on the missing arm and on the tote bag, taking short but Clint Eastwood-like glimpse on the would be pickpocket.

It worked, or so I've think it worked.

The man's missing arm came to light, the backpack put in its proper upright position and the man is now holding a 5 peso coin and 3 one peso coin, his fare.

He said, "Para" (Stop) and the driver steered the jeep on the roadside. The two cohort went out of the jeep (I was right) then the would be pickpocket stood. Suddenly, I tapped on the woman's knee and asked here if there something missing from her tote bag. She was jolted, bug-eyed jolted. In about six nano second I was preparing to jump on the back of the would be pickpocket the moment this bug eyed woman said there is something missing.

She said in her bug-eyed state "Wala naman po" (Nothing, sir). I relaxed, nervously relaxed, if there is such words. I said to her, "the man besides you is trying to pick something on your bag". She said that she'd just withdrawn her salary from an ATM machine. The woman besides me joined in and said that the man besides him keep on squirming on his seat, like he was trying to widen his seat estate. And that man is supposed to alight the Jeepny in Cutud which is about 3 kilometers away from where they've alighted.

Ego part. I was praised and thanked by the woman and the driver, and by the woman besides me and the woman besides her and the woman opposite her and... And man!!!...

It feels good.

Thinking part.

As a precaution whenever you board a jeepney.

Be wary of a Backpack (or any other bag) carrying man who carry it sideway meaning to cover an arm. If you see one and he's beside you put your cargo between your knees or wherever it should be visible to all.

Also, chances are that person is not alone.

Add more if you want to.

I hope that you'll share this story to your friends and relatives, and colleagues and everybody else who commutes.

Salamat Po.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is a very helpful message for the riders to be careful of the dangers in their left and right sides.

Thanks to Othello for this observation!

Dr. Davis P. Tharayil