Search This Blog

Saturday, February 3, 2018

If I'd Gotten Off That Train, I'd Be Dead Right Now

Captured Christian white slaves being auctioned
in the Muslim Ottoman Empire
This is a true story about how dangerous Europe (anywhere really but especially Europe with its millions of recent Muslim arrivals and skyrocketing crime against women) is today for unsuspecting young girls and women. My granddaughter is going to Europe this summer, but when I give warnings for her to "be careful" my daughter's response is exactly the same as Carlo's wife's response all those years ago.

When I was 19 and young, naive and innocent I went to school in Padua and Venice staying with friends of my parents, Carlo and Ann. It was a glorious experience but often I think back to how I certainly was almost kidnapped, drugged and sold into the white slave market. (Today it's called human trafficking.) At that time people thought the destination of a white slave was a harem deep in Saudi Arabia where women were cosseted and plied with lotions and oil on their skin, watched over by a eunuch and called to the bed of the sheikh at his command. However, now a more likely fate occurs to me - I might have been pimped out by the Mafia or sold to a Neapolitan drug gang.

Whatever my fate would have been, and that of my friend Sharon who had flown over to Italy for a two-week visit, it never happened. It didn't happen because we never got off the train. Here's the story:

In Padua I walked everywhere by myself or with other girls, American students from UCLA. We never felt unsafe. When I had classes in Venice I'd hop on the bus by myself and 20 minutes later be in Venice. There was never a problem. However, Carlo was always warning me to be careful. Carlo was Italian, born in Modena and had a doctorate in chemistry from the University of Bologna. He then went to the US and worked at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee where he met Ann who also had a chemistry degree. They married and after a few years went back to Italy, to Padua, where Carlo had a research grant. Ann's parents knew my parents, so you can work out the rest and how I happily went to Italy one August day long ago.

Even though walking around cities in Europe was fairly safe in those days (which it definitely is not today) Carlo would always warn me: "Be careful. White slave traders will get you if you don't watch out." Ann would always scoff and say, "Oh, Carlo, stop it. You're scaring her." He would never back down though, but would always reply that it was true and he didn't want to be responsible to my parents if I disappeared one day. Carlo, having grown up in Italy, certainly must have known a lot more than he was telling because he never stopped warning me, so much so that it was etched into my brain, thank goodness.

When Sharon arrived for a two week visit we decided to go to Rome, then take the train to Sorrento and see the southern coast. Everyday before we left, Carlo would warn us to be careful. For instance, we'd be eating dinner and suddenly he'd calmly say, "Don't forget to be careful. That area of Italy around Naples is bad. Lots of white slave traders. You could be shipped across the sea and end up in a harem."

Even though that idea had the faint hint of romance and adventure to it (that's how dumb I was in those days), I was horrified to think that it actually could happen to someone. The worst thing I could think of was never to see my parents again and how much they would worry wondering where I was and what had happened to me - was I dead or alive. Then I'd wonder how I would ever get a note to them saying that I was OK and living in a harem in Saudi Arabia and could they please come and get me.

Once I asked Carlo how slave traders capture girls. How do they do that? Where would they sell me? He told me that they'd simply take me off the street walking home one day, or grab me leaving a restaurant, throw me in a car and eventually I'd end up in a harem, which was probably his best case scenario since he didn't want to say what really would happen. And there would be Ann, forever scoffing, saying that it might have happened a long time ago in Carlo's youth, but not now. "Those things just don't happen anymore."

Sharon and I merrily went off for Rome, then a few days later boarded the train to Naples, Pompeii and Sorrento. Sharon had beautiful red hair and everywhere we went people looked at her. It was somewhere just before Naples that a large well dressed heavy-set man in a dark business suit and tie about 45 years old oiled his way over, no doubt drawn to us by one glimpse of Sharon's hair. He said he was getting off in a few minutes at Naples, but asked where were we going. Since he was getting off the train soon we didn't think anything of telling him where we were going - Sorrento. However then, between his fairly good English and my not so good Italian he told us he had a great idea. He would get his friend and the two of them would meet us at the Sorrento train station. When we stepped off the train in Sorrento they would be there waiting for us. 

Immediately we realized our mistake of telling him we were going to Sorrento so tried to dissuade him from any idea of further contact. He was insistent. Adamant. He and his friend would be there. Waiting. For us. "OK?"

As he had said, he did get off the train in Naples so Sharon and I had awhile before arriving in Sorrento to figure out what to do. I knew that with the several train stops between Naples and Sorrento, the man had more than ample time to pick up his friend and drive there before we arrived, indeed being there to meet us. It was at that point that all of Carlo's warnings of white slavery lit up my brain. (Of course the man might merely have been thinking that he and his friend would have a night out cheating on their wives, but in any case we weren't interested.) I suggested to Sharon that we might be in danger and told her of all the times, even before she arrived, that Carlo had said to be careful.
Red-haired girl among 
children captured by slave traders

We decided to get off the train at Pompeii, one stop before Sorrento, and wait there in the train station where there were people around until the very last train left late in the evening. That meant sitting there three or four hours and losing an afternoon seeing the sights. We used the time to plan what to do if the two men were still there after having had to wait several hours. (Scream? Yell? Run with our luggage?)

They must have gotten tired of waiting because when we got off the train they were not there. We were so relieved but still scared until we got to the hotel. Even then we kept a wary eye out every day looking around until we went back to Padua. Who knows what might have happened if we had gotten off the train in Sorrento at the appointed time three hours earlier.

The man on the train had an eerie presence - like a predator - and I still remember his demeanor, clothing and face after all these years. He had confidence and knew how to manipulate. Thinking back, the first indication of manipulation was throwing us off guard by saying he was getting off the train at Naples. By saying that, he knew we felt safe enough to tell him our destination, then he made his plans accordingly. He was not a young man anywhere near our age - we were still teenagers - but a grown adult man with a purpose. He did not flirt. He gathered information, emphatically stated his plan (to be there when we got off the train) and never once indicated what "all of us" would do. 

He and his friend could have forced us into a car at the train station, driven us back to Naples and pimped us out, or they could have raped, drugged and sold us to Muslim white slave traders and we would have been shipped to a harem. Perhaps he was with the Mafia which was huge in those days especially in southern Italy. Maybe the Mafia and Muslims had business connections in human trafficking. Whether he was a pimp, a human trafficker, a Mafioso looking for sex and murder, I don't know but I had the distinct feeling that whoever he was and whatever he had in mind - he was evil and we were his going to be potential victims.

I have no qualms about the title of this post being too dramatic because there is no doubt in my mind that if Sharon and I had gotten off the train on time at the appointed hour neither one of us would be alive today. The man was a predator and we were his prey. I thank Carlo for his constant wise advice, drumming it into my head so that when the moment came I was able to recognize danger. 

All these years later, men don't have to secretly stalk young girls on a train filled with people. They do it in broad daylight on a busy street. With Muslim gangs grooming young girls in England, the rape and murder of women by Muslim migrants in Sweden, daily stabbings in Germany, and terrorist attacks in France, I HAVE to tell my granddaughter to be careful. It IS happening. Young girls ARE being raped, stabbed and kidnapped because of the rise of Islamic "culture-enrichers" in Europe. But like Ann, my daughter scoffs and thinks it MIGHT have happened long ago (like when I was there) but it certainly isn't happening NOW. Everything will be fine! The world is a bright and cheery place!

No comments: