Then it happened.

   The day was unplanned like every other, but then it happened. I mean I just got done telling everyone how smart of a traveler I am and blah, blah, blah. Next thing you know I’m running from store to store talking to managers about their video cameras. “If you just show me, or give me a print out I can have this mess settled” I argued. You see the night before we arrived in Brussels. We wandered the streets, took the metro and indulged in a few Belgian beers. Stopped for dinner and had one more.

We were drunk? Not really, but it was 9 pm, which is about our bed time and we were ready to get back to the van. Pay for dinner, grab the metro tickets out of my wallet and make the journey back. Three different metro’s with two stops that takes about 20 minutes total. Just before we take the last leg of the subway I reach into my pocket to put the tickets away, and it happened. I checked all four pockets then my belt line. Frantically, I did it again. My wallet is gone. Fuck. Really? We backtrack all the way to the restaurant, no wallet. Ugh. Cancel the cards. File a police report and repeat the whole trip to get back to the van around midnight. “Maybe it fell out of my pocket and a nice person will reach out online” I hope. 

    Ding. A Taxi ride for $22 at 2 am. It’s begun. 11 am we fix up the bed in the van, make some breakfast and head into town to find some internet and sites. Luckily there are a handful of open wifi networks so it isn't long before my emails load. Ding. Confirm this purchase: Mac Cosmetics $220 20 minutes ago. Ding: Fraud alert, declined charge for $1000 at Market Media. Ding: attempt on other credit card also denied. Ding: Footlocker. Guess it wasn't the nicest people who got my wallet. Needless to say, my inner detective comes out. Of course the police report was filed, but no one has time for my own problems like me. The cops say, “Okay we will let you know” and that wasn't enough. Ding! For reals?! “Jazmin, I need to chase these down, just meet me at the van around 5 pm” and I take off running down the street. Ding: Etam lingerie store, denied. Etam on Nieue street according my offline map. Between the metro and running it still takes me about 15 minutes to show up. There’s mac, footlocker, market media and Etam all within 1/10 of a mile. Smallest shop first. Mac cosmetics. “Hi ladies, 36 minutes ago someone was in here trying to buy $220 worth of cosmetics and the credit card got declined twice. Funny thing is, they are my credit cards they stole my wallet last night”. Shock and awe floods their faces. They ask around, yup, someone did come in. Into the back room, and I take a couple of pictures from their cameras. Some skinny white chick wearing a crop top and a tall black dude wearing a green hat…they actually would stand out here. “Thank you” as a round the corner to footlocker.

    Same story, except I describe the people. 'Yea not too long ago', but they wont let me see the cameras without cops there. JD sports and media market say the same thing. Needless to say I was creeping up and down the streets nodding at all the store managers I had talked to, just hoping I would run into the culprits. Then what? Steal her purse with my cards? Confront them in a store? I run through every possible idea in my head and even ask the roaming cops theoretical questions about the situation. It’s 4 pm, they’ve been out of the stores for 3 hours now and I’ve got some leads but nothing else. I gave myself a free running tour of Brussels, bought a couple of Jupiler beers and went back to the van. Defeated but not dead.

    Moral of the story? Shit happens and it only takes a moment. What was lost? Well, my wallet, credit cards, debit card, passport card, and drivers license. The real loss was the bills that I had saved from every country. I had maybe a dollar or two worth of every foreign currency from the last three months, maybe 12 bills. That sucks. The upside? No one got hurt, Jazmin still has her debit card and really, I’d rather them have my wallet than my backpack. Crazy to think how much can change in just the blink of an eye. I got comfortable and said that doesn't happen to me and bam… Note to self: wallet in the front pocket when on the metro. Be thankful what you do have and what you don't have won't matter.

Stay Wild, but not careless!

Joe