The man who went too far on a streetcar
They were a strange but extremely well-behaved sight. The children played cards. Just before they disembarked the little girls started singing songs. It was extraordinary.
My journey from Bakersfield to San Francisco took more than six hours. Then there was the bus trip to Market Street. I was tired.
On the streetcar the white man opposite was still raving about the elegance of the man in the red suit. I said I too loved his look. “It’s all I have,” said the man in the red suit sadly.
He really seemed pretty depressed for someone who had put so much work into looking fabulous. “It’s all I have.”
A fire engine went by at that point, with its siren blaring, and I jumped, turning to watch it race by. “Don’t they have that where you’re from?” asked the man in the red suit with a kindly smile.
I didn’t mind him thinking I was a hick.
Nevertheless, I got off the streetcar two stops early. I was beginning to feel awkward with the two men at the front of the streetcar, for reasons I couldn’t explain to myself. It was quite a while before I realised my purse was gone. I’d put it in my jacket pocket at the bus stop, after getting it out of the suitcase to give two buskers a dollar. I’d stuffed it into the left-hand pocket of my jacket when the streetcar came.
The man in the red suit didn’t waste much time. By the time I got on to the bank in Dublin they were able to tell me that with the credit card he’d gone pretty well straight to the Safeway supermarket and spent about $80 (€62). Then he’d gone to Subway and spent more than $20 on food. He then went to the metro station and spent almost $200 on bus tickets (these can be resold, apparently). Then he went to Walmart, but that was on the debit card. He just bought staple items. It wasn’t very glamorous, really. No wonder he was depressed.
I am angry with myself for being such a plonker. My American friends are rather embarrassed that I was robbed, and I have had to comfort them by telling them that in Ireland we beat tourists senseless; this does seem to make them feel a bit better.