punkwalrus (punkwalrus) wrote,

PSA: Possesion Safety in Public Stalls

I kept meaning to post this, but almost forgot.

This weekend, I went to TGI Fridays at Tyson's Corner. The macaroni bites are excellent, BTW. But as I finished my meal, I decided to take advantage of the lavatorial facilities before I spent the rest of the day buying stuff I didn't need, usally from the new Lego store on the lower level.

This was a fairly new TGIF, and the stalls were way thin. Now, everyone knows I am a big guy, so I had to turn to the side to pull my pants down, and then I sat upon the cold plastic throne. As I pondered the usual things one might in such a common human scenario, I noticed that my pants were sticking a little out of each side of the stall area. When I was a teen, and when I did nightclubs, I was taught this was how some people would snatch your wallet, so I had this kind of wary eye, even if I am alone in the bathroom, for sneaky hands trying to grab my stuff. All my life, this has never happened.

Until now.

I THOUGHT I was alone in the bathroom, but it was a noisy place blaring 80s music, so someone could have come in and I would not have heard them. As I was bunching up my pants, I caught sight of a tan and harry hand reaching under my stall to my cell phone, which is held onto by belt by a belt clip. Sadly, my first instinct was to think, "What the hell...?" before the hand made a lunge for the phone.

The belt clip was a lot stronger than either one of us thought, because when he grabbed the phone and yanked it up hard to dislodge it, it stuck fast to my belt instead.

"HEY!" I screamed, like that would accomplish anything. Really, did I think someone would go, "Oh... so sorry, I thought those were MY pants in there?"

The potential absconder of my Motorola RAZR then made a second attempt, and some reflex part of me that was faster than any logical thought process made a fist with the middle finger knuckle raised higher than the other fingers. I came down on the sneaky hand with a CRACK, similar to the sound one makes by stepping on a walnut shell, as my knuckle must have separated, if only briefly, his metacarpals on the top of his hand as it crushed them down on the tile floor.

"QUESO PASA!" a voice screamed, and although I am SURE that's NOT what he really said, but it really did sound like a bad Spanish translation of "Cheese happens!" I couldn't quite tell, I suspect, because the loudest thing in the room was REO Speedwagon playing "Can't Fight this Feeling" over the bathroom speakers. As I yanked my bloomers over my waist, I heard the bathroom door slam open, and by the time I got out of the stall, there was no one there, and the door was already closed. My phone was still sturdily clipped to my belt, but in the scuffle, the belt clip had torn from the cheap leatherette backing about halfway.

I went into the restaurant, looking for anyone nursing his hand. No one fit that description, and telling the store manager resulted in a shrug and a rehearsed line about how they are not responsible for those sorts of things, which may sound "unfair" in today's litigious society, but what could anyone really do?

Usually the way this scam works is someone in the stall on one side distracts you while his accomplice on the other side grabs your wallet. In this case, there were only two stalls, and I was on the stall closest to the door.

If my experience prevents anyone from having their wallet, cell phone, PDA, Blackberry, or Gerber Geek tool stolen... I consider this a valuable learning experience.
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