I spent part of the morning on the Metro armed with my camera and an ominous two-foot length of mono-pod to whack any hands I felt near my body. I had an idea who the most likely suspect was: a rather short, dark individual in a bulky coat, balding, with his hair combed straight back, perhaps in his mid-thirties or early forties. He looked like he belonged at a race track, hawkish, with the face of a tout or drug dealer. He crushed into me at one stop, and jumped out at the next. Maybe I would see him again and snap his picture?
No such luck. Or maybe it was lucky I did not see him again although I took the Metro regularly for the next two days? I reported my "lost wallet" to the authorities, who shrugged and said it was most likely stolen at precisely the stop I mentioned because that was where most thefts occurred. I stopped at a few stations up and down the line and looked at a couple dozen wallets found within the last week, but did not see my own.
Athens police were quick to assure me that my wallet had probably not been taken by a Greek, but most likely by an Albanian. Albania, they said, had suffered through years of political and social disruption behind closed borders, producing a generation or two of uneducated men and women, who, when the borders opened, fled the country into Greece and worked as cheap day laborers, or engaged in petty thievery. No prejudice on my part-- merely what I was told. But to debate this assertion, I would point out that Athens is awash with street vendors from various countries like Africa and Pakistan, some possibly homeless, their wares wrapped up in big sheets and carried off on their backs at the end of the day. Given this, plus student unrest and unemployment, I bet Albanians have to compete for their stolen wallets with a whole bunch of other folk!
Upon returning to the States I sought some distraction by beginning John Crowley's Lord Byron's Novel: the Evening Land. What a hoot to find myself growing up in Albania with the young Ali! Clearly I am a character in some unwritten John Crowley novel trying to find my way to a meaningful resolution!