PARIS — Aggravated robberies are up more than 40 percent in the Paris public transport system, and the government places blame for the rise on the attractiveness of smartphones.
The interior minister, Brice Hortefeux, calls it the “iPhone effect,” and the police talk of thieves’ “going to pick apples” on the Métro. While Métro thieves seem to find iPhones particularly attractive, usually fetching at least $200 and sometimes as much as $400 on the street for some upgraded versions, smartphones in general have become a favorite target, the police say. – The New York Times
It was somewhere between Gare de L’Est and République. Jacques Bonsergent, je pense. One Métro stop with an emphasis on stop. One minute I, the flâneur, slipped my phone into my pocket. The next minute, le voleur slipped it out. The last photo I took was as we walked onto the platform, Will and I collectively dragging three black suitcases and two starry heads full of hope. To my right was an old beggar, sitting three feet up on a concrete ledge. Wearing a faded turban, dirty white robe, and an elegant patina of international hardship. He may or many not have had all his limbs: I couldn’t tell. His voice was raspy and wane. He spoke Arabic, not French. Holding out a creased, greasy cup with grimey edges, he implored all of us with squinted eyes. I could see that he was blind.
“To photograph people is to violate them, by seeing them as they never see themselves, by having knowledge of them that they can never have; it turns people into objects that can be symbolically possessed. Just as a camera is a sublimation of the gun, to photograph someone is a subliminal murder – a soft murder, appropriate to a sad, frightened time.” – Susan Sontag
So I ignored him. It’s much easier to ignore those who can’t look you in the eye, don’t you think?
Ignored him until I stopped to wait for the train, turning back in fascination to take a photo. Taking his image, without asking first and giving nothing in return. Point. Shoot. Slip into my pocket, to post later on Instagram, appropriating his misery for my “likes”. Taking something that wasn’t mine. Taking something from nothing. As opposed to the thief who stole from me. Taking nothing, really. From something. From someone who has a lot. From me, the flâneur, and also, voleur.