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The big map o the Caminos de Santiago

Crime and Punishment on the Camino -- Roscoe and the Revolutionary Raskolnikov

#1
He suddenly attempted to duck past me.
That wasn't going to happen.
My hands were purposefully hard clenched in my pockets.
They had to stay there.
I stepped across to block his move and dropped my shoulder into his chest.
Sat him on his butt on the floor.
"You just sit down there for a moment Roscoe," I said to him grimly, "I've been enjoying our little chat."
Hands are still in pockets!
That's good right? No violence. Well, nothing to write home about.
And no mouthing off. Not really. Just using the tone of my voice to advise him of the seriousness of his predicament.
I got this. Doing good so far. Don't blow it now Gerard.

I'd been at home, looking forward to my next trip to Spain.
As I'm sure many do, I was also trying to figure out ways I could make myself into a better person. I mean look at what seems to happen to me on Camino. Always seem to get myself into one scrape or another.
What's up with that?
I must be doing something wrong.
I'll ask my mate Michael.
"I'm no pilgrim," he replied, "I don't know what you lot get up to on your Caminos. But you mate, you are quick to anger when you see injustice, real or imagined, perpetrated. Your problem is that you start mouthing off and waving your hands around, presenting an aggressive stance. You need to appear less physically threatening."
"So," I replied, "less like a lager lout then. Hands in pockets. Big mouth shut."
"Not shut, just quieter. Be an improvement," he concluded.
I could do that.

Rest day today.
Been for a walk to have a look around town and have just returned to the hostel in the early afternoon.
Nod to, as I pass, the big African receptionist lady. Then upstairs and down the passageway I go.
I push open the door into the dormitory.
Big heavy door. Yet so quiet. Beautifully hung.
I step inside, let the door go, then freeze.
I've got the bottom bunk in the far right corner of the six bunk room.
There's a bloke on his knees leaning over the side of my bunk.
He's holding my zip-off hiking pants in one hand and is patting the pockets with the other.
In the old days I would have just quietly walked up behind him, and clocked him one.
Red Rover.
All over.
New rules now. Can't do that anymore.
No. It's hands clenched in pockets, and big mouth...nearly shut.
As his hands moved down the legs to feel the cargo pockets I quietly walked up behind him.
"Looking for something Roscoe are you?" I politely enquired. "Lost something perhaps?"
He nearly had a heart attack.

After taking a couple of seconds to regain his composure he scrambled to his feet then turned to face me.
"My sandals! I'm looking for my sandals!" he exclaimed, "I have lost my sandals!" .
"Your sandals!" I replied. "Of course!.....and the reason you were searching for them in my pants was because you thought I may have found them, and put them in my pockets for safekeeping, until I came across their rightful owner!"
That's when he attempted to dodge past me towards the door, and I had to put him on the floor, look mum no hands, good boy Gerard.

He rolled over and assumed a sitting position.
I glared down at him.
"Now listen up Roscoe," I said, "I'm now going to give you some really good advice. See how my hands are in my pockets? Now if I take them out....that means you are about to be subjected to serious pain....Do you understand Roscoe?"

This young, fine featured Spanish lad considered his situation for a moment.
"I do," he eventually replied. "But I have to leave soon!" he pleaded earnestly from the floor. "I must go to catch my bus."
"Don't you worry about that now Roscoe," I replied. "There will always be another bus, and anyway, you can't leave without your sandals now can you?"
"I stay last night in that bunk!" he exclaimed, pointing across the room towards a bunk, around the end of which stood two suitcases, bursting at the seams. Presumably they held all his worldly possessions.
I hadn't noticed them before.
"Today, I go to my new job in Madrid!" he continued.
"If you are lucky cobber," I replied. "Now get up, slowly, go over to your bunk, and wait there."
I thought it time to go tell the receptionist what I had chanced upon.

Again!
As soon as he stood up he made another dive for the door.
That's when I broke my new rules. Bugger.
My hands appeared of their own volition, an arm swung for him.
I caught him with a coat hanger around the neck.
It morphed into Hulk Hogan's "Sleeper Hold."

On TV, the pro wrestler Hulk Hogan's opponents had a dread fear of this terrible hold. Once Hulk imposed it, his opponent was helpless, unable to defend himself in any way whatsoever.
My older brother had showed me how to impose it.
But altho I'd practiced it on many occasions over the years, I'd never had the actual need to impose it. Not til now that is. Like so many years later.

But I hadn't forgotten how.
From behind him, my right arm winched tight, like an iron bar, across his throat.
He gagged and sagged back against me, his hands reached up for my enclosing arm.
I thought to put the fear of God into him.
I cranked it up a gear and his legs flapped.

At that moment the door swung open and in charged the big African receptionist lady.
We must have been making more noise than I thought.
"What is going on?" she demanded loudly.
She stood with her legs akimbo, hands on hips.
She cut a very imposing figure.

"I caught this person searching my belongings," I explained. "Here is my bunk! He was searching the pockets of my hiking pants."
Roscoe was found joining the conversation somewhat difficult. He just gurgled.
She looked closely at him, then at me.
"Do not kill him," she requested.
"I promise not too," I said.
I released the pressure from Roscoe's windpipe then stepped back from him.
"Why do you keep trying to run away?" I asked. "You'd have to come back to get your suitcases!"
He coughed. "Because I am very frightened of you!" he replied.
I couldn't have been happier with that explanation.

"Did he take anything of value?" our imposing receptionist enquired.
"No. I caught him before he found anything," I replied.
I'm really good at securing my valuables. They go with me everywhere, even to the shower. My pack was reasonably safe, stashed deep under my bunk. On the way out this morning I had thrown my pants onto the bunk after pulling them off the clothes line.
She now addressed Roscoe. "Get your suitcases and follow me. You are leaving now!"
And that was the last I saw of Roscoe.
She however returned.
Presumably to ensure all was now well with me.
"He is gone," she said, "but why do you call him Roscoe? That is not his name."
Explaining that to her would be a bit difficult.
But to you I can.

After 'Crime and Punishment's' Raskolnikov.
Dostoevsky’s memorable creation.
It's a while now since I read it, but from memory, the young, broke, half-starved university student Raskolnikov found out where his landlady kept her stache of money. She was a vicious, mean old lady who kept a mentally deranged young girl as a slave. He killed the old lady rather violently did our Raskolnikov. He justified the murder by convincing himself that the world would be better off without her, and that therefore, that due to his acceptance of the currently prevailing view that "God is dead", that it was almost his duty to kill her, and therefore no crime was committed, that his actions in fact constituted moral strength.
An extremely brief precis of one of the great novels.
My apologies to Dostoevsky .

Over my working life I've developed an absolutely unreasonable detestation of thieves. Their invidious acts cast suspicion over all my other employees, and it was my duty to root these evildoers out. I'd even on occasion mistakenly sacked innocent people, for which I am still unable to really forgive myself.
I've always called thieves Roscoes. I bloody hate them.

"In my country," I advised our receptionist, to avoid this long-winded explanation, "all thieves are called Roscoe."

Minimum necessary force they reckon. That's all that can be legally used in the apprehension of a suspected offender. So the coppers have always told me.
And absolutely none in way of retributional punishment.
That's for the courts to decide.

Did Roscoe get off light?
I mean he never actually stole anything did he?
What percentage of a crime is embedded in the decision to commit it?
What percentage in an actual unsuccessful attempt?
Is any retribution deserved?
Whatever. Roscoe's not going to receive any, and in my experience even guilty parties seldom do.
And here in Spain, as elsewhere, theft from folks in hostels seems to be treated as a very minor crime, if at all. Am I right?

So next time, I'm thinking, what about a bit of a slap, a backhander perhaps?
Only to assist in the apprehension of course!
If that also enabled the offender to observe the wonders of the cosmos, a few ringing stars, in order to help him see the error of his ways, well, that'd could only be a good thing, right?
Perhaps my 'Hands in the Pocket' approach needs slight modification.

But you lot, you are my fellow pilgrims after all.
It's your belongings as well as mine that I'd be protecting.
I need your advice too!
In such circumstances, how would you react?
Then again perhaps the question should be. How should you react?

Regards
Gerard
 
Last edited:

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese.
#2
Hi Gerard, interesting - when did this happen? We've had a few recent reports of thefts from albergues. Some have made local news. When caught and handed over to the police they usually get released pending trial. See this thread, this thread and this news report.
 
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 to 2018
#3
I rather like the 'put the fear of God into them' approach. It is more direct, immediate and likely more severe than whatever a judge will say or do.

This said. I am NOT advocating violence. But a nice restraint hold or intimidation session might give the perpetrator pause for thought.

Just as there are days to be smart and days to be brave when on Camino, there are situations when it is best to turn the other cheek, and situations where 'remedial intervention' of some sort is called for. This was, IMHO, one such situation where direct intervention was appropriate.
 
#4
Hi Gerard, interesting - when did this happen?
Hi Kanga. This was early April. I've found that a 'local' with big suitcases usually indicates someone in serious transition. They are usually short of cash and stay in a hostel only because it is the cheapest option and there are no relatives or friends handy, or they are on the 'outer'. It is certainly not their preferred option.
Because my 'Roscoe' was only a young lad, probably 16 or 17, I decided not to report him, and to give him the benefit of the doubt, as well as put "The Fear of God" into him.
I would, and always have reported serious offences/offenders.
I detest them.
Regards
Gerard
 
Last edited:

KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
#5
...
So next time, I'm thinking, what about a bit of a slap, a backhander perhaps?
Only to assist in the apprehension of course!
If that also enabled the offender to observe the wonders of the cosmos, a few ringing stars, in order to help him see the error of his ways, well, that'd could only be a good thing, right?
...
I have some experience with "street life" (homeless, drunks, drug addicts, thieves etc.) and I can say not a backhand, forehand or a full fist blow changes anything. It is what it is.

But I'm still still enjoying your stories nevertheless!!!
 
#6
[QUOTE="there are situations when it is best to turn the other cheek, and situations where 'remedial intervention' of some sort is called for. This was, IMHO, one such situation where direct intervention was appropriate.[/QUOTE]
Thanks for your thoughts. Into the melting pot they go!
 
#7
I have some experience with "street life" (homeless, drunks, drug addicts, thieves etc.) and I can say not a backhand, forehand or a full fist blow changes anything. It is what it is.
Ok, so it's a no from you then.
But a low level physical reaction, while doing no prolonged harm, makes me feel better!
It enables me to deliver, imo, deserved punishment, while contributing to the likelihood of such a crime not happening again!
But you suggest no future benefits can be gained! Bugger.
Thanks mate for your insight.
 
Last edited:

Purky

The Dutch guy
Camino(s) past & future
Breathe properly.
Stay curious.
And walk a camino.
#8
I am most impressed with your mate Michael. When it comes to advice, "Be an improvement" is as good as it's going to get. Just for argument's sake, I'd like to offer an alternative perspective. What if your Roscoe was genuinely down and out, but had been offered the chance to put his life back on track with the new job in Madrid? However, being down and out and having no funds to speak of, he couldn't resist the temptation to rifle through your pants in search of money. Which is exactly the sort of action that landed him in this 'down and out' situation in the first place, but he can't recognise this yet. His behaviour is based on instant gratification, being hungry and all. He can't see it will become ingrained.

Point is, he is at a crossroads. What would be the greatest improvement in this instance? Clock him one and get the situation over with as fast as possible? It would make you feel better and have no further impact on your life whatsoever, so that has its attractive power. Put the 'fear of God' in him with a thunderous speech, in the hope it will land? Also a quick and relatively detached course of action, for both parties. Or choose for something else entirely, a risky and possibly emotional experience: become involved?

I am very much with Kinky when it comes to changing nothing using a fist or a speech. Especially with the hard cases. But kindness, however hard to muster, might sometimes do the trick. And it might even provide enough space and air for a person to turn his life around on. How is that for improvement! If you have enough control of the situation, sit him down, talk to him and find out what the hell is going on. You will know fast enough if he is telling the truth or pulling your leg. And take it from there. You could save someone's life this way, at the right time and place. I've seen it happen.

So my take on this is to keep listening to your mate Michael. You seem well on your way, putting hands in pockets and taking it down a notch on your aggressive stance. You already have one succesful intervention tucked under your belt. Maybe in time you'll find yourself in a similar situation and will decide to intervene with wisdom and humor, and I'm sure you will be equally awesome, no matter how it pans out. (Although on a coolness scale, your 'Sleeper Hold' would be hard to beat.)

One other thing. Clocking him one could go sideways real fast. He could fall over and land wrong. He could have a skull like an eggshell and you'd kill him on the spot. Which means you would be the Roscoe...
 

KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
#9
...
I am very much with Kinky when it comes to changing nothing using a fist or a speech. Especially with the hard cases. But kindness, however hard to muster, might sometimes do the trick. And it might even provide enough space and air for a person to turn his life around on. How is that for improvement! If you have enough control of the situation, sit him down, talk to him and find out what the hell is going on. You will know fast enough if he is telling the truth or pulling your leg. And take it from there. You could save someone's life this way, at the right time and place. I've seen it happen.
Check below for my answer to Gerard. I'm not violent person as such but can react according to situation with violence also.
As for a softer approach. If you have the time and some other means then yes, the change can happen. Otherwise you are just one more "pain in the ass" for these folks.
 

KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
#10
Ok, so it's a no from you then.
...
I'm not saying that. I'm almost sure I would react harsh. I just wanted to emphasize that either way you take it most likely won't change a thing. These people are used to be kicked around their whole life. Sadly.
 
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