I can imagine the dreadful feeling that a parent feels when they misplace their child at a store; they were just here a second ago. The typical realization that you have misplaced your child looks like frantic flailing of arms and running around screaming their name. A sense of where do I look first, look around twice, thrice maybe even a fourth time, still they seem to be invisible only to you. The fact that you lost a human does not compare to losing a back pack, because you know the human might eventually meander back. Some might think that that last part was cruel, but since I have no children my things are equivalent in my immature mind. For me my backpack (that contained various electronics, ids, American money, and school books) were taken on an off season September day on a Greek beach to only the Gods know where. Moments before, I had gone to get a sandwich from the local bodega where I had mapped out a plan to approach a fellow Grecian that was tanning on the beach. Upon returning I was all smiles and had some good pick up lines when I looked down to see nothing. The realization made my mouth turn into what I envision looked like a Mursi woman in Ethiopia. You know the ones with the lip plates, but only this time the plate was not in, leaving a gaping hole otherwise my mouth.
In my defense I was there with ten other people and all of their bags, but somehow a derelict snatched my American life. As I scoped and spoke in broken Greek to random tanners no one had conveniently seen or obviously noted their obliviousness to my problem. Walking around turned into wandering around, going up to strangers that treated me like a normal beggar at first until they realized I was American. There is a popular song that they play in Greek clubs called, ‘Papa Americano’ roughly translated into ‘We don’t speak American’ this was a popular phrase I heard. At the end of the beach I had noticed a tent, I went in. There were bags, lots and lots of book bags of all shapes and sizes. American, European, maybe even Asian these people’s bags contained a glimpse of their tiny everyday life. This is the thief I thought, but where was he? These are not my bag, he never came back, I feel as though someone tipped him off that I was coming. I would later learn that thievery is very common due to the influx of refugees from Africa, mostly I was told by locals it was Algerians (I crashed an exhibit that was being put on by the German embassy and all of their head honchos, they told me this). As the day wore on my bagless-self started having odd thoughts. I thought of CSI when they always find the victim in random water puddles or on the sides of garbage cans thrown helplessly. Have they done this to my poor backpack, I began to think of my backpack as a person. Feeling bad for never naming it, maybe I did mistreat it. This was crazy talk; I knew that I needed to go on a search for another.
You might not have thought that Athens, Greece has a ghetto, but I have seen and smelt it. I first started at the street across from the Flea Market, where they actually sold stolen merchandise, I know because I asked and was then given a weird look. A man from Ethiopia who I will call Sam was basically giving me the hotspots of Athens, until I realized that it was more about drugs. He told me not to go alone to any of these parts and then he retracted the statement and told me not to go in general. I would like to think that in that second look that he gave me when he retracted he realized that I would probably be worth a lot more than he originally thought. Maybe my backpack was sold on the slave market, would I have to go that far to find it? After trying to sell me some fake Ray-Bans I went to the extremely Ghetto area, to be truthful he did not actually tell me the places he just nodded his head in certain directions. After my attempt at being ghetto in the mean streets of Athens I decided to buy a cheap Asian back pack, which I am sure that the entire population of Beijing was living behind the counter.
No ghetto can compare to the phone call that had to be made to my mother to let her know what had happened. Why is it that parents never want to know what happened, they always want to know why we let it happen? Convincing her that I did not purposely leave it out to be stolen, and after several admissions that I had a lot of air in my head she would work some kind of parental magic. Now I dreadfully wait for a week in order to receive my packages via snail mail, I know have a new backpack. Which I got cheaply just for the pure fact that I was a women and the street vendor was a male, he let me know this situation repeatedly. The question I get asked the most now is, “Didn’t anybody warn you about pick pocketers?” I know reply with, “Yes, but what they failed to mention was that they were going to take the entire bag.” I must walk the streets and pass the time like the gypsies. Maybe I am now a gypsy but at least I know that I would be worth a lot on the slave market.
Andrea Gracia, Athens Scholar
Pierce Arrow Blogger