Panicked in Paris

First of all, Liam Neeson is not my dad.

If you haven’t seen the movie Taken, starring Liam Neeson, I assume the previous statement may seem a bit odd. However, given my “almost kidnapped” experience in the City of Lights, it’s very fitting to that horrific day and everyone’s comments on the situation shortly after.

All my life I dreamed of Paris. I had more pictures of the Eiffel Tower than space on my bedroom wall. It was the ultimate “goal.”

Or so I thought.

I only spent a few days in Paris, as I was passing through and just couldn’t miss the opportunity of experiencing the City of Love, and also I had been listening to the song “Paris in the Rain” by Lauv on repeat for quite some time. So, it just seemed like the obvious thing to do, right?

Well, I wish I could say that I fell in love with Paris and that everything was better in real life and that it was all I had ever hoped for and more. But, sadly, it wasn’t.

On my last day in Paris, I was feeling very homesick. Not necessarily for the United States but more for familiarity. So, before going to the airport I decided to go binge watch Netflix at the Starbucks by my hostel. It seemed like the perfect morning to relax before heading back to Rome.

As I was sitting at a bar by the window facing the street, I had headphones in and was completely in my comfort zone just as originally intended. This short blissful moment came to a halt when I noticed a tall, slender man leaning against the Metro entrance staring directly at me. I proceeded to stare back because rude! His glare never moved from my face.

I entered the first stage of being uncomfortable.

When I travel, I am always very attentive to what is going on around me. I look at everyone’s face, I always make sure to have knowledge of where I am, and I avoid sketchy situations. However, I really thought this Starbucks would be a safe option for me.

After watching one full episode on Netflix (roughly an hour long), I looked up to see the same man still standing there. And yes, still staring at me! Red flag. But, I convinced myself that it was nothing and proceeded with the next episode. After another hour passes I looked up and he was gone. Whew. Okay I was safe.

Just kidding. As I was looking back down at my phone I realized he was sitting directly next to me on the other side of the glass, turned around in his chair staring at me. I got chills immediately. I scooted to the chair next to me so I was hidden behind an advertisement in the window, although that didn’t stop him from looking directly around it every ten seconds. Luckily I had heard the guys next to me speaking English so following my gut I leaned over and asked them where they were from and if they could help me.

The two businessmen were from Chicago and brushed me off like I was some strange girl but offered to walk me somewhere after their meeting if I needed it. Of course I accepted the offer, choosing the lesser of two evils – two strangers from Chicago versus a possible captor in Paris.

It was at this point that I alerted my family even though it was about 3 a.m. back home, and I also alerted my best friend in Italy who later called the American and French embassies because she thought I was goner.

Feeling a little more at ease, I watched another episode on Netflix and when I looked up the last time, he was gone. However, instead of feeling relief, my body went cold and I knew that if I turned around he would be there.

I was right on the money. This many was standing directly behind the three of us, just staring at me. I alerted my fellow Americans and they quickly realized that I was actually in danger. We decided to leave because we had no idea what this man was capable of or even what he was after, all we knew was that he wanted me. He proceeded to follow us so we walked straight to their hotel lobby. Yes, it may sound like a stupid idea but my options were pretty slim, okay?

Once we arrived we sat in the lobby for a good amount of time. There was no sign of him, so the men offered to walk me to the train station (gracias a dios). Once at the station they bought me a ticket and a bottle of water and escorted me to the doors to ensure that I was not followed and no longer in danger.

Thank you to Blake and friend from Chicago for helping me, and (no) thank you Paris for almost ruining my travel ambitions.

I survived and although I am still overcoming the constant paranoia, I feel like I’m winning.

Love, J


One thought on “Panicked in Paris

  1. Glad you were able to seek help and safety. I recall a similar situation in Fez, Morocco. I ran as fast as my legs could carry me when the man became distracted. It is not a good feeling when you feel you are in danger and you cannot speak the language to ask for the appropriate help. You were blessed to have those men nearby. Great post. Thanks.


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