I saw it on TV


I saw it on the Steve Allen show many years ago. It was in black & white, quite a long time ago, when dinosaurs still roamed the earth.

One of Steve Allen’s guests that night was a professional pickpocket. He quickly had his host’s wallet and wristwatch and showed them to the audience before Steve even knew what had happened. The audience laughed, I laughed. The professional pickpocket gave Steve a piece of advice: thick wallets are harder to pick than thin wallets.

From then on, I made sure to have a thick wallet. Of course, being only nine years old meant that I didn’t actually have anything to put in a wallet, my weekly allowance then was only 50 cents.

Years later I developed excruciating pain (courtesy of my sciatic nerve), which was apparently caused by my fat butt sitting on a thick wallet, a habit I had learned to do many years earlier by watching TV (proving once more that watching television is bad for you).

My excruciating pain problem was quickly solved by putting my wallet in my front pocket instead of in my back pocket.

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By putting my pickpocket-proof thick wallet into my front pocket, I had also made it easier to be stolen by a pickpocket.

And so it was on one of my more random trips when my wallet got snagged. Not in the back alleys of Phnom Penh either, I lost my wallet in Paris on the Metro. My wallet was picked, and I knew better. There were warning signs in English that read: “Idiot American tourists lose their wallet here” But I had let my guard down and with it my ATM card, drivers’ license and about $100 in cash were liberated.

I was more embarrassed than anything, I had been all over the world by then and considered myself to be a savvy traveler. My passport and plane tickets were in my neck pouch, safe and sound, but my ATM card and cash were gone, so I was dead in the water. (Yes, I know, I know, and please don’t remind me what a fool I am)

I called my brother and he wired some cash to me (he kindly restrained himself from guffawing) though the convenient service of Western Union.

It was a pain in the neck to replace my drivers license and cards, and I should have had everything in my neck pouch.

If we learn from our mistakes, then I am getting a fantastic education.