Oh Paris, I need to spend so much more time with you.
You are no Rome, but there is still something about you that I’d like to get to know better.
We arrived, wandered, got some infamous soup and snails, and relaxed for the rest of the day. By relaxed, I mean that my dad stayed in the hotel to chill and my mom and I walked down the Seine from our hotel right at the Notre Dame all the way down to the Eiffel Tower.
We chose to walk because I was accustomed to walking, having become a Roman who relies on public transportation and my own two feet. I glanced at a map and saw that along the way there were countless museums, including the Louvre, so throwing the map aside, off we went!
Walking, talking, dreaming, laughing, dancing… this is my favorite thing to do while exploring, especially with my mamma.
We finally made it to the Eiffel Tower! It was much larger than I had expected, and had more intricate details than I had ever noticed before. Honestly, I had never been interested in Paris, sorry Parisians. So this was all new and wonderful to me.
We grabbed a little snack and sat our happy selves down on a curb, backs to the busy road against a little rod-iron fence, and stared at the tower. All was well with the world, until…
Before continuing to read my version of the story, which is definitely more accurate, considering the fact that I’m known to embellish my stories a bit… head over to my mom’s blog for her point of view at conniefriend.com.
All was well with the world, until…
Suddenly, my mom clutches her coat pocket and yells, “MY PHONE!”
The rapid rush of rage and panic hit me like a truck. I think I may have even temporarily turned in to the Hulk. I sprung to my feet and started looking around. I vaguely recall a flash of red from the corner of my eye. But somehow, there were thousands of people all around and no one I could see, both at the same time. How is that even possible?
I head over to the right while my mom searches to the left. I was actually super pissed off that she wasn’t putting her phone in a safe place to begin with, but then I realized that it could have happened to me, too, or to anyone, so I placed my anger back on the criminal who picked her pocket.
Not seeing anyone abnormally suspicious, my mom and I met in the middle again. We just grabbed hands and started praying in the Spirit. I suppose moments of desperation cause us to do that.
Seconds after that, I saw selfie stick sellers huddled in a circle and smiling at something. Without hesitation, I dash over to them, but at the same time, a mass of people are fleeing the crowds. I am used to seeing this happen. In Rome, if people are selling items at tourist locations, they need a permit. With no permit, they most likely are illegal sellers, which means when the police show up, they head for the hills.
The people running away was a sign to me that the police were here somewhere. So I change gears and start looking for a cop to report a stolen phone! Only, I can’t see anyone in uniform.
Nearly giving up hope, just not knowing what to do.. You know, phones these days carry credit card information, and my mother’s phone specifically had all of our hotel arrangements and flight plans on it. What will we do without it while in a different part of the planet? It really is infuriating how helpless and naked we can feel without our phones. But that’s another topic…
I find my mom again and we are silent, just looking at each other.
Then, a Middle-Eastern looking man comes up to me and says, “I have your phone.”
Without even thinking, I lunge for it. He won’t let me have it.
“You have to come with me and I will give you your phone back.”
“I am police. I am police. We caught the man who took your phone.”
Oh, you’re police, huh? Prove it. He was undercover and out of uniform. But then I notice police in uniform smashing a kid in a red shirt against the wall of a vendor’s cart. That must be the thief?
I begin to trust the man talking to me a bit more. But still not 100%, for some reason. They tell us that we need to go to the station and file a report in order to get the phone back.
“How did you know that it was our phone?”
“We were watching you.”
What? How is that even possible? There were literally thousands of people at the Eiffel Tower that Sunday afternoon. How, out of thousands of people, were you possibly watching us, just sitting there eating popcorn?
“And this is the first time we have ever caught a pickpocket and retrieved a cell phone. The first time ever,” the undercover superhero tells me.
From somewhere in the distance I hear a siren. That can’t possibly be for us, I thought to myself. Squealing around the corner and peeling up to the curb from a quick U-turn, like in action movies, this Paris police car comes to a screeching halt, smoke from the tires in the air and all.
The handsome police man opens the door for us and we get in. Just like that. “Bonjour,” says the cop driving. “Bonjour,” my mom and I say in unison as we probably look entirely wide-eyed and speechless, waving goodbye to the tourists staring at us average white women getting in the back of a cop car.
Speeding through the narrow Parisian streets with the siren on, we are driven straight to the police department headquarters, somewhere in the depths of this city we have never been to before.
We then have to get clearance to go through three different gates until we reach the lobby inside. It was like walking in to a den filled with handsome French men in uniforms. We stare and them, they stop what they are doing and stare at us, not knowing what to say to each other, so we say nothing. They point to the bare wooden bench, so we walk through the metal detector and sit down.
Hours passed while we wait for a translator. The pickpocket is seated in a glass box, staring at us, begging for pardon with hand gestures and puppy dog eyes. This was my first evening in the City of Lights, people.
We become bffs with the our translator, Anna, and the men who were helping us. We discuss American politics; Obama, Hillary, Trump… Mamma mia, I’m a bit embarrassed to be an American overseas now. Yikes.
We get the phone back! We are shown the way out and it’s nearly 11:00 pm. While trying to hail a cab, an officer asks to take me to dinner and show me the city… European men are so charming… but, no, thank you, I’ve had enough for the day. Off to the cab my mamma is in I go! Maybe next time, handsome!
Anyway, long story short, except not really because I just typed all of that…
I love that God always watches us. He somehow fights for us while we are unaware. He had men on earth watching us to protect us when we didn’t even know we needed it yet. We pray to Him for a moment and he provides justice in full. He returns what is stolen! And, performs this with such flare, sparkle, and grandeur that we have unreal stories to tell later.
I will remember this story for the rest of my life. Papa God will always have my back.
The next day we wandered around a bit more, showing dad parts of the city my mom and I saw the day before, minus the attention of the Paris Police Force. We took a boat tour down the Seine. The weather was a bit rainy and cold, so we tried to avoid the sporadic downpours. I do think that Americans don’t understand the French very well. I discovered just how lovely the people are, and the architecture, the history… all of the elements that create culture. I appreciate how much they care about detail and excellence. I just appreciate them.
I never did get to see this city at night. I do regret that. So, I will be back, to see the City of Lights sparkle for me.