It was a hot and sunny afternoon in Rouen, France and the next intercity train to Paris was not due for over an hour.
What to do, I pondered and looked across the road from the train station at the Hotel De Dieppe. I crossed the road and entered the lounge of the hotel. As is typical in most places in France, after 2pm lunch is near non-existent, so I decided to whet the whistle instead. There were two other people in the lounge area. After asking for a drink in my rudimentary French, I carted my case into the restroom for a long awaited ease.
I returned to the lounge, setup up my laptop and went about my work. No sooner had I settled, two other people came into the lounge, settled down and went to work on their laptops, 3G internet cards et al. From where I was sitting I could make out the new arrivals were speaking a mixture of Igbo, Yoruba and pidgin English – my people, I thought, we are everywhere and anywhere.
Three more people joined the new arrivals in the lounge and, of course, the noise levels rose with the raucous and I decided to wedge the ear-phones in and tune in to one of the several playlists on the Ipod. I had the ear-plugs in my ears and was deliberating over which playlist, smooth jazz, merengue, etc….then I heard one of the folks sitting some way from me say “when that guy go toilet, he go leave that laptop and kpam, we don go be that” .
By now, knowing I was a potential victim of crime, I found it somewhat difficult to concentrate on the paper I was writing. With the ear-phones still plugged in my ears, playlist abandoned, I focused some attention on their conversation and gathered that they travel across Europe (including Eastern Europe) to little known towns purchasing electronic equipment with credit cards that were obtained from identity thefts. What happens to the electronic equipment thereafter is conjectural but I will leave that to imagination.
These folks had high specification laptops and other gadgets in their possession but that did not stop them eyeing my one year old hard worn laptop.
Now it’s time to head for my train to go about my business and leave my people to go about their business. Their business? Their business is about ripping people off. The victims could be just about anyone with some form of identity or false sense of security.
If caught by the law, these folks could be incarcerated, deported or otherwise, all of which have their own respective ramifications on miscreants and their respective dependants.
Phew, I caught my connecting Eurostar from Paris to London. Now, what will you have done?