Thursday, August 23, 2012

Condition White in the Tube

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

For those Constant Readers who have TL;DRitis let me skip right to the Lessons Learned:

1. I know the subway/tube/bus ride is boring, but fer chrissakes, stay awake.

2. On a crowded subway/tube, don't wear your backpack on your back.

3. If a group of young males start grab-assing and jostling you, don't ignore it. You might be about to lose that iPad or whatever is in your backpack.

4. If, as a bystander, you choose to stop the pickpocketing by catching the attention of said wolves and giving an ominous shake of your head, you better damn well have thought through all possible outcomes...


So... London 2012 Olympics, Day 10

I'm meeting St.Ass over in Kensington to go to a meeting at the Sochi pavilion and it is actually easier and faster to take the DLR (for a very short ride) & Tube (Central Line for a long ride) to get to our meeting place.

I do quite a bit of people watching, and on the Central Line there is plenty of opportunity to see people in various states of Situational Ignorance. Condition White, as some of us would term it.

Headphones on, nose in an iPad, Kindle, book or newspaper, or sometimes even asleep...
If asked, 98% of these people would not have noticed the Ogre standing in the corner of the door, my back to the doorjamb.
They would not have been able to even describe the person they stood or sat next to, or even notice when the trio of young Wolves got in the car at Tottenham Court Road and started to eye the various occupants, then crowd around the back of a condition white guy wearing a backpack.

As two of them shielded the action from the sides, the third one started to manipulate the zippers on CondWhite's backpack.
I cleared my throat, raised an eyebrow and shook my head at them, figuring they'd just stop and go on to greener pastures where there wasn't an Ogre in the neighborhood.

Alas, that wasn't quite the outcome. I guess they didn't like getting stymied and decided it was a good idea to teach the Ogre a lesson about Minding His Own Business.

Very few people noted the standoff between the Ogre in the corner, and the 3 young wolves at the other side of the car. I stared at them, and they occasionally whispered to each other as we locked eyes across the narrow car.

I was prepared to wait it out, stay on the car until they got off, or until we got to a crowded station...
The looks I was getting said it all-
"Hey, you might be the Big American Guy, but the three of us are going to kick your ass."

And they would have too, thanks to those wonderful disarmament laws in the UK.
I wasn't even allowed to carry a pocket knife... I was even discouraged from carrying my Leatherman by the cops at the IBC. I would have had at least a decent lockblade, except that I had to go through Mag & Bag at least 6 times a day and possession of a pocketknife, no matter how small, would mean a chat with the local LEOs.
So- young Wolves - almost certainly armed in some manner vs. Ogre, armed with only a hand with some skin on it.

But... I did have the luxury of being able to think my way out of a paper bag, and to come up with some contingency plans...

As the train pulled into Queensway (my proposed meeting location with St.Ass) I was watching out the windows past the Wolves...
And as the car slowed to a stop I saw 2 police officers on the platform...
With a little luck, it looked like I would escape ventilation if I was able to get past the Wolves, and over to the LEOs without incident.

As the doors opened on their side of the car I moved directly at them and we all left the car... I took an immediate right and headed toward the cops.

"Excuse me officers..."
As I walked up to them I got a glimpse of the Wolves heading up the "Way Out" stairway out of the corner of my vision...
"So... You guys been getting a lot of pickpocket complaints these days?"

We stood and chatted for a few minutes - they outlined exactly the scenario I described, lamenting the fact that people just don't pay attention to what goes on around them.
Apparently there was a huge influx of criminal opportunists from Spain, Italy and France that arrived in London just before the start of the Olympics, where the picking were going to be easy and lucrative...

I exited the tube station at full alert... Still unarmed, but ready to react if it became necessary... I surmise that they went on to those greener pastures, because I made it to the street level and eventually met up with St.Ass...
No perforations, ventilation or edema.

Note to self...

A hero ain't nothing but a sandwich.
Stay awake, but mind your own business.



jon spencer said...

What might be needed is a good walking stick for your "bad ankle".

kx59 said...

Walking stick, not a bad idea.
BG, I suggest starting with a rail road tie and whittling the corners round.

Old NFO said...

Good point on the 'walking stick'... Glad you're okay!