A Study in Pranking, Trickery, and Other Shenanigans: The Story of the Purse Thief

thief Let me preface this post with a disclaimer: This story falls under the “other shenanigans” category or is an unintentional prank of sorts. Something like this has never happened to me, so of course I have to share it with people!

A few weekends ago, my friend Ryan and I went to see the Punch Brothers at the House of Blues. It was an incredible concert despite the fact that beer cost $9 (and I was only able to enjoy about $5.50 of said beer).

On our walk back to the DART, we reveled in all the musicians’ dexterity and tried to decide who was the best at his instrument. We also wonder what sort of drugs Chris Thile indulges in, that mad genius. We passed by the aquarium, and I told him how the only thing worth seeing there are the Amazonian otters. Then I realized that I wasn’t completely sure how to get back to the West End station, and Ryan assured me he has a great sense of direction. I trust him, so I followed.

The thing about having a great sense of direction (which is amazing, by the way; I wish I had that sort of psychic power) is that it doesn’t inform you about how possibly sketchy an area may be. Surprisingly, the neurosis that overcomes me when a strange car wants into my apartment complex did not take over, even when we found ourselves on a mostly abandoned Lamar St. We approached a big intersection and our moral compasses told us, “Wait for the signal!” I watched a man jaywalk towards us, eyes glued on his feet, as Ryan explained where we should go next. The scene in Hot Fuzz in which Danny and Sgt. Angel sit in their patrol car and conjecture why a man walking by was hiding his face ran through my head and found myself thinking, cause he’s f%@$-ugly. Funny how my suspicious side didn’t take over in a situation like this, but comes in full force in the apartment driveway.

And as you probably guessed, the jaywalker tried to steal my purse old school, snatch-the-bag-off-my-shoulder style. These were optimal purse snatching conditions: barely any people on the street, after midnight, short and unintimidating girl with her purse slung over one shoulder, and a guy looking off in the distance to psychically get his bearings.

But this guy made a few mistakes. First, he started running about three feet in front of me. Secondly, he had no idea that I have quick reflexes and work two part time jobs for the little money I have. When he grabbed my purse strap, I was already clutching it tightly. Although he yanked my arm, my grip on the strap was tighter, and he was the one who let go first. And as he kept running, I turned around and yelled, “NO!” over and over again while brandishing an accusatory finger at him, like someone admonishing a child.

That’s when I noticed that my shirt strap had been ripped and that my bra was making an unwanted appearance. Always one for eloquence and grace, I squealed, “He broke my shirt!” Like a lady, I tucked the broken strap into my bra strap and away we went.

I walked with my purse across my body, both hand clutching it and squeezing even tighter when any man, woman, cat passed by. I had finally given into my suspicious, neurotic side.

When we got on the train, I let myself vent. It went something like this: “I understand that you have to be at a pretty bad point in your life to resort to stealing purses, but he has no idea where I am in my own life. I mean, what a dick! I hope he felt really stupid, no really, really stupid when he couldn’t snatch a purse from a five-foot-one woman. God, I don’t know what I would have done if he had gotten away with it… My whole life is in there… My wallet, phone, favorite chapstick, $2…” Ryan let me switch from shock, anger, and theoretical despair with a patient ear until I was locked safely in my apartment. Thanks for that, Ryan! Seriously.

For all the weird and possibly seedy places I’ve lived and been, the only time I’ve been a victim of petty crime was when someone stole my credit card number. We caught that one after the person tried to spend money at a gas station in some south Florida town I’ve never been to.

Upon further reflection, I’ve realized that if the man had gotten away with my purse, my first reaction would have been to been to run after him and try to get my purse back. I probably would have yelled. Maybe I would have tried to tackle him. Maybe he would have gotten away. Who knows? But the whole reason I’m writing about this is because I surprised him by holding onto my purse. Joke’s on you, purse snatcher.

Leslie Michaels is currently a Level 2 improv student at the DCH Training Center. She spends her spare time riding her bicycle, playing Ultimate Frisbee, or hanging out with her boyfriend, Netflix. She still questions whether she’s a dog person or a cat person.