The true horror stories in modern Paris Part 7

My complete profile, if it was ever disclosed, would reveal all sorts of minority groups, starting with my gender and race.  I have been harassed on many levels throughout my life, but I lacked the stomach and power to carry out revenge.  This was a blessing in disguise because retribution eventually manifested itself, which inspired me to share on this blog.  I quote many others before me that ‘True horror is hidden within man’.

EPISODE 7

Parisians get a bad rep, but if I may say so, migrants take more advantage of tourists and other migrants with less experience.  Take it from me, who learned it the hard way. 

Like a newbie with dreamy eyes in this historical city, I rented an old apartment in the historical area.  The place looked authentic, and I was ecstatic…until I found out that everything I touched would fall apart.  While my real estate agent was prompt in fixing the problems, there was one thing she could not fix.  The old lock was tricky, and one evening, it finally got stuck.  My door would not open.  I asked my French neighbour in a panic, and he casually picked up a leaflet in his mailbox and rang one locksmith.  He would not have done it if he had been a Parisian, but he was a tourist from the French countryside.

When two locksmiths came, I felt uneasy, not because they were not French men, but it seemed shadow followed them.  In Japan, the association of locksmiths sets a very high standard, both on technic and morals.  Thus the locksmith in Japan have a dignified feel about them, and they are much trusted.  However, I sensed none of that from the two men.  They were observing the stuck lock while the French neighbour who had rung them was around, but as soon as he left, the two men looked at one another knowingly.  I, a small Asian woman, was alone with them, and it was getting dark outside. 

Suddenly, one man took out an electric saw and cut the wooden door.  Another man struck down with a hammer.  I screamed because the wooden door had lost a good chunk of it.  Then the two men ganged up on me and demanded that I pay a hefty price if I wanted to fix the door and the lock.  If not, they would leave the door as it was that burglars could come into my apartment.  They were not going empty-handed as they checked out my laptops, the top of the line brought straight from Japan.  As a Japanese woman, I felt obliged to fix the door for the landlords, so I offered to give them what cash I had.  I had some 800 euros which I was going to pay for the rent.  How naïve I was. 

The two men seemed amused that this silly Asian woman was more loaded than they had expected.  They demanded that I must further purchase a prominent lock with 5 keys and demanded that I pay with my credit card.  Their vulgar eyes were gleaming brutish.    It was Saturday night, and every other resident in the building had gone out.  They pushed me down on the chair and towered over me.  My fleeting eyes landed on the older man’s bag, Louis Vuitton.  Obviously, they had income other than the locksmith business.  Fearing the worst outcome, I took out my credit card from the purse and offered to go outside to find an ATM.  Perhaps, someone may notice… 

Mirror that reflects your soul

The crooks had come prepared.  They had a credit card paying device, and they made me pay further 4000 euros.  I was too numb with fear to resist.  When the bank accepted the payment, the two broke into laughter.  Sinister and crass.  With a hoarse voice, I asked them which country they were from.  The older man dared to insist he was a Parisian, but the younger brother spilt that their parents had migrated from XXX.  When I later reported it to the Police, the police officer immediately gave up the search upon hearing the country’s name.  They were infamous ‘The locksmith of Paris’, and the Parisians would only deal with locksmiths recommended by the insurance companies. 

If you ever go to Airbnb in Paris, you may come across leaflets with a list of emergency numbers, including the Police, to make it look legitimate.  The crooks slip their phone number into the list, but it gets transferred to…the underbelly of Paris.  The police officer consoled me that it could have been worse.  Many women go missing in Paris.  The amount the crooks stole from me was huge enough for them to wrap up the business for the night and go party.  Or buy another Louis Vuitton, which did not suit them at all?  The crooks had money but not the class to pull it off.  It is not like they would ever get invited to the gatherings of the elites who are worthy of Louis Vuitton or the pride of the French culture. 

The crooks had patched the door up with the lock they had conveniently stored.  My real estate agent demanded the landlord to split the cost because it was his worn-down lock that created the problem in the first place.  However, the landlord who did not live in mainland France refused.  My agent was furious because she sensed his racial discriminative attitude towards Asians.  The landlord’s property was removed from the list of the real estate agent, but the landlords knew Paris would never run out of tenants from abroad.  He cowardly sent someone else to collect the keys to the new lock on my last day.  I obliged, and the man looked smug.  Little did he know that the crooks did such a lousy job that the new lock malfunctioned frequently.  

Outside Asia, the lives of Asians mattered even less than that of the darker-skinned folks.  I had lived outside Japan long enough to suspect it but did not want to accept.  The incidents in Paris enlightened me.  It is in the name, the city of light (enlightenment).  It took me a while for me to stop shivering and other post-trauma syndromes, but I would not allow those migrants to drive me away from France.  That privilege should belong only to the French in France, the country their ancestors fought and died for.  I still needed to study French culture and her history for my research.  I would build an environment where I would be less dependent on irresponsible landlords who may be French on passports only.  

An empty apartment with the freedom to furnish and install facilities was available in Paris.  Australia had taught me the do-it-yourself skills that I could make and do almost anything around the house except the electricity jobs.  So I stayed on.  France would indeed allow me to learn her culture, etc., but it was for a price.