As I approached the ATM I made a mistake, I proceeded as if I had my family with me. When I have travel by myself I look around, I watch behind me as I go through the process of withdrawing money, but this time I was just careless. I walked right up to the machine, put in my card and started entering my pin number.
I don’t really know where the gypsies came from because I wasn’t paying attention, but suddenly a small hand came into the ATM area from my left and when I responded to that hand another hand came from my right. I got a little lucky. I turned to confront the people owning the hands and saw two teenage female gypsies and one male teen. They tried again to get their hands on the ATM buttons to release the cash, but they had miss-timed their attack by a few seconds and my card and cash were still safely in the machine. You would think they would then take off and dash down the street, but they didn’t.
I couldn’t turn back to deal with my card and cash, I couldn’t chase one of them and leave my card and cash in the machine, I couldn’t yell for help since my French is limited to ordering food and wine, and since I am a lover and not a fighter, violence was out of the question. So I did what any red-blooded American would do: I looked for a weapon. I began swinging my empty backpack to clear some space. I also screeched a bit like a 12 year-old girl (not too proud of that, but it happened.) The trio of gypsies moved back off the sidewalk and I had enough space to move back to the ATM and cancel my transaction. I got my card and prepared myself for what would come next, I assumed that the next step of the attack would be physical but I guess the high pitch screeching made the gypsies wary of my fighting style: hair pulling, biting, scratching.
Now in the US, criminals have the courtesy to dash off after an attempted robbery, but my gypsy friends just turned away and sauntered off down the street. That might have been the greatest insult of all, they thought so little of me that they turned their backs and strolled down the street. Come on, I am 6’6″, I should be a little more intimidating than that, but the gypsies were right. What was I going to do attack them? So I watched them for a minute and when it was safe again, I carefully got money out of the ATM.
I was lucky, I didn’t get hurt or lose any money, but I did lose something: Empathy for gypsies. I really should be more forgiving, walk a mile in their shoes, and understand that the three people who tried to rob me were just individuals and not representative of an entire group of people, but I haven’t gotten to that place of enlightenment yet.