Nashville Day 2: Tara got her wallet stolen.

Nashville, Day 2: Saturday, October 8th, 2016

We woke up early to get out the door by 9am so we could get a jump on all the touristy things we wanted to squeeze into the day.

Per a suggestion by Cheyanne the receptionist at the hostel, we went to Puckett’s for breakfast. As soon as we arrived, I recognized it as a place I’ve been to for dinner with my family when we stopped through Nashville on our way to South Carolina. However, I didn’t eat the brunch, so there was new food to explore! The best part of having a travel buddy is ordering a ton of stuff and sharing it with someone. Also, if you don’t eat it all you don’t have to feel guilty because you can put full blame on the other person for not finishing everything.

We ordered a handful of sides and thankfully Tara steered me away from ordering two pancakes since they were the size of my head. So we ordered one head-size sweet potato pancake, two biscuits, pulled pork, and eggs. The pulled pork was smoked and had a flavorful rub, served dry with your choice of two BBQ sauces. We all know that I love my BBQ sauce. If you didn’t, then here’s a confession: I brought BBQ sauce with me to Spain the first time I studied abroad. It’s a serious addiction that I deal with every day of my life. So there I was, eating everything all mixed together, since every flavor was perfection and totally mixable, if you ask me. Syrup on pancakes? Syrup on pork? BBQ sauce on pancakes? Biscuits and BBQ? The possibilities are endless!

As we left breakfast, there was a line out the door to be seated at Puckett’s. It was the first of many moments throughout the day where we thought “thank god we got here so early because look at the crowds NOW!” The next one was at our next destination: The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. We got in at the end of a 30-person line, and when we progressed a bit, we turned around and the line was nearly 100-people long.

Instead of waiting for the extremely long line for the elevator, we took the stairs up the reverse way, to several warnings that “it would be weird because you’re going through the exhibit backwards.” And yes, it was weird, because we were going through the exhibit backwards, so we walked all the way through to get to the beginning and started there. There was a lot I wasn’t too interested in, such as a lot of the modern country music since I’m not a big fan. I also don’t care too much about objects that were owned/used by a famous person, like Willie Nelson’s guitar or so-and-so’s microphone. I’m not seeing them play it, so just staring at an object in a glass case isn’t something I can appreciate, since it’s not the music itself, which is really the wonder of these things.

The museum exhibits were nice in that some of them read my mind a bit...after reading a ton of placards about artists going from the “Nashville sound” to “Honky Tonk” I really wished I could hear some music to get the difference. Turn a corner and boom, there are two sound booths with exactly that. There was a section of the museum with loads of sound booths wherein you could hear music specific session musicians, such as a guitarist or drummer who recorded on several artists’ albums. However, the exhibit didn’t have music splits of just the guitars or drums or harmonica, which was a bit of a bummer, because with a song loaded with instruments or sometimes multiple guitars, how am I supposed to hear the special quality of that particular musician? Something to think on, Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Work on that.

For a museum on music, I feel that only 60% of exhibits had audio. Don’t tell me about the music, you gotta let me hear it! One of my favorite parts of the whole museum was the very beginning, which had video and audio of basic roots of country music. I like seeing the evolution of a sound, and the first videos and audio you encounter in the entire museum definitely lays it out. I was curious to know if they’d gloss over the blues roots of it all, but they did have a little bit of it at the beginning. For such a whitewashed genre of music, it’s hard to remember that it is very much based in the African-American roots of blues music. They touched on it but it wasn’t too present in the museum. Also, I just like watching videos from the 1930s of fiddle players because they’re just fun.

We spent quite a lot of time at this museum so we once we left we were hungry. One place we wanted to check out was Husk, a restaurant just a half mile outside of the downtown area. We walked uphill which made it a little more treacherous than it would have been for such a short distance, only to find out they’re closed because they don’t like to feed people who run on their own schedules and want to eat lunch at 2pm.

We walk all the way back into the city and look at Tara’s map of places we wanted to eat and realize basically everything is outside of the city center by at least a mile. I know some might argue against this opinion, but my opinion of Nashville’s “gems” is that a lot of them are outside of downtown and therefore it makes the city not very walkable. Especially when the buses run every 20 (!) minutes. We returned to the city center wanting to desperately get a decent bite and not “waste” a meal opportunity, but the options in the city center are the likes of Hard Rock Cafe and Rock Bottom Grill. After having a non-debate debate of where to eat (“I don’t care, what do you want.” “I don’t care, what do YOU want.” “I don’t care.” “Me neither.”), we settled on the George Jones Museum restaurant, which at least had a rooftop bar that overlooked the river, which was beautiful. We split a surprisingly good brisket sandwich and snapped a few necessary photos before moving on to the Johnny Cash museum, which we luckily didn’t have to rush to since it closed at 7pm.

We stopped in some shops on 2nd avenue and Broadway, trying on piles of alligator skin cowboy boots, turquoise cowboy hats and arrowhead bolo ties until we got dangerously close to purchasing any and all of the above, at which point we decided to move on. Nashville was starting to get the best of us. I will say, though, if you’re looking to get boots, my advice is to go to French’s boots and shoes if you want long-lasting GOOD boots.

Almost all the boots there were great quality and almost all real leather, for a range mostly between $150 and $300, with some going all the way up to $750. The popular shops along Broadway, however, which are famous for their “Buy two get one free” deals, sell lower quality boots for around the same price, at $125-$200 each. I guess if you really want the red boots with heart-shaped buckles, the white ones emblazoned with music notes and the brown ones with a more classic design, and aren’t able to choose between all three, then yes, go ahead and get the crappier boots so you can own three whole pairs. But if you just want one really good all-leather pair that will last a lifetime and work for your once-in-a-blue-moon barn dance outfit, then go with French’s. This is advice from a tourist who has spent a total of 5 days in her life in this city, but that’s just my opinion.

We eventually made our way to the Johnny Cash museum, and I didn’t mention this before but my lord are museum prices in this city EXPENSIVE. Tara and I both used expired student IDs to get discounts and still the Johnny Cash and Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum were EACH $20. Twenty freaking dollars. That’s more expensive than Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry which I will argue has a lot more interactive exhibits and entertainment. Maybe if I valued country music more, it wouldn’t be as big of a deal to me. Just show me a few hours of fiddle music on black and white film and we’ll call it even, how about that?

The Cash museum was fairly small but a higher ratio of audio/visual parts. Johnny Cash is one of very few artists to have recorded on basically every audio format and have sold a hefty amount of records for each one. There was an iPad where you can listen to the different recordings of one of his songs to hear the slight differences in sounds, which was cool. There was another part which talked about his performance and recording at Folsom Prison, and was accompanied by a video. This is what I’m talking about people! If the subject matter is highly based on visuals and audio, then give me some visuals and audio! That’s all I ask. Well, at the very least I ask for a basic description of what I’m presented that’s slightly beyond the obvious (No glass cases of rocks labeled “stones” here...)

The Cash museum touched on the Million Dollar Quartet recordings and of course had plenty of audio to accompany that. One A/V aspect that bugged me as someone who works in post production was the section that highlighted the movie Walk the Line, which featured a few costumes from the film as well as a loop of the movie trailer playing with frame blending turned off, so it was all soap opera-y. To anyone who doesn’t work in film, though, you would probably never even know. But I knew, and it BUGGED me.

In all, the Cash museum was fantastic and well worth it, because when you have a museum about a musician, it’s all about the music, not just costumes and pictures. That’s definitely what the place got right.

Afterwards Tara and I popped over to Hatch Show Print to look at all the amazingly colorful retro-designed posters, and then decided we were in desperate need for some coffee if we planned on going out tonight. It was about 5pm by now, and we walked to Barista Parlor Golden Sound, about a mile from the downtown area. The place was a bit hard to find as it is located in what appears to be the middle of nowhere (as far as not being near other shops/restaurants) or at least it seemed that way from the direction we were coming from. It was large and airy and clean and white and pristinely organized. The quiet curly-haired barista explained the different coffee blends and origins, and Tara’s and my eyes glazed over as we ordered a mocha and a drip coffee, respectively. I just need the caffeine, not the flavor profiles that I inevitably will not notice.

I received way too much coffee for my own good, served in the Barista Parlor coffee mug with a clever little “finish” flag at the bottom that’s visible when you’re on your last drop. Tara received a latte with foam art that looked a little too suggestive of certain male anatomy. We enjoyed our drinks to the vinyl soundtrack of Top Gun blasting from the cafe speakers. What is with Top Gun and Nashville? Is that our soundtrack for this trip?

As we gathered our things to leave, I goaded Tara to steal the coffee mug as it was too cute to leave behind, and also because we needed something tangible to remember those $6 coffees.

We walked back to our hostel and changed to go out for the night. I’d like to mention that our luggage lockers are located in a somewhat open space, but inconveniently away from the rooms. Therefore, we found ourselves just stripping down in the middle of basically an elevator lobby near the lockers, just because we’re lazy. No one saw, or at least, Tara glared at two guys who were taking their sweet time to get to their room on the balcony overlooking the lobby, as I was facing the opposite wall to change my top. Her glares worked to drive them to pick up the pace.

We ran up to the room to find that Tara’s bed was stripped as she didn’t leave anything on it, so the maids thought she was one of the other roommates who departed today. Therefore, we both had to make up her bed now, while no roommates were around (or sleeping), all while dressed up in our going-out clothes. It was a sight to behold, Tara on the top bunk with boots and a dress, hunching over to tuck the elastic sheet under the mattress and shoving her pillow in its case with a look of utter disdain.

Finally we were able to leave and we caught a Lyft from a very pleasant driver who told us all about the “rise of Nashville” and how it’s become a tourist destination only in the last ten or so years. She dropped us off at Hattie B’s hot chicken, one of the places on Tara’s extraordinary list of delicious stops. We both ordered breaded chicken strips and some sides (baked beans are a must) as well as the cobbler of the day. I asked the cashier what the cobbler flavor was, like I would deny any flavor he offered. It was apple. Done! A la mode it is.

At one point, while Tara was away from the table, I was staring off into space as the server walked by and said “Lookin’ tired now!” and then held out his hand for a fist bump. I’m in a chicken coma right now and to him it appeared like a fist bump is the cure.

We took another Lyft back to downtown/Broadway, because as I’ve said before, this city is very spread out. We passed by the Predators’ stadium and I made a comment about what an unfortunate team name that is, since all it makes me think of is a child predator. The driver thought that was amusing.

We popped in and out of various bars along the strip to hear live music, our favorite of which was Layla’s because the music of the night was 50s rockabilly, which was the best to dance to. The other places played a variety, but nothing as exciting. It was either country music that everyone knew but us, or it was Fleetwood Mac --which hey, I love it -- "Rhiannon" which you can only slowly sway along to. Or, in the case of Crossroads, it was 90s pop in the form of “MMM Bop.” A few women helped us out though, and I’ll bestow this advice to you as well: don’t wait in the long lines to enter these places on Broadway. Skip the line and enter through the back alley, which is equipped with a bouncer for this exact purpose. No line, no wait, and you’re in. It was a lifesaver. We spread the karma to a few girls later on that night.

Around 1:30am, Tara and I went into Honky Tonk Central, which had a live band playing some 90s alt-rock. After showing our IDs, we made a loop around the large bar to come up on the right side of the stage, which was surrounded by a tight crowd. Unfortunately the bar’s close proximity to the stage made it cramped.

We stood there, cramped between everyone for just a few minutes before the band started wishing some patron a happy birthday, singing him his celebratory song. Just as the song wrapped, some guy grabbed my shoulder and started rubbing it for my attention, as I flashed a disgusted face to Tara. I turned to look at the guy. “Is it your birthday? Ha ha. Are you from here?” “No, it’s that dude’s, whom they just sang it to. And Chicago.” “I’m from California.” I turned back to Tara and he continued rubbing my shoulder until I turned to him. “Have a good night,” he said before turning his attention to Tara and asking her name. She shook his hand and he left. Just as she recoiled at the idea of shaking some stranger’s hands, she reached to her purse and her expression turned from disgust to panic. “My purse is open. My wallet is gone! That guy stole my wallet! HE SHOOK MY HAND SO HE COULD PICKPOCKET ME! We have to go, Melissa. WE HAVE TO GO.” As she had it in-hand to use her ID at the door, she knew it was taken here, at this bar.

We rushed to the door and immediately asked the security guard to help. Tara asked if he saw a guy--no, he interrupted. He doesn’t pay attention to who comes in or out.

We stepped outside. Tara was panicking. “What do I do? My debit card, my cash, my driver’s license, my hostel keycard, everything was in there.” I calmly told her we’d start filing a police report, since she needs something to travel with on the flight tomorrow.

As she talked to an officer, I went back in the bar. First I scoped out the bar for the suspect, but no luck. I talked with the bouncer by the exit, asking if anyone has reported a found wallet. No, they didn’t. He said to check with the bartender next. I went outside to update Tara and the officer that I couldn’t find the suspect, as some drunk girl was standing s few feet from Tara listening to the whole ordeal. I wondered what she was doing near the cops, and soon realized that she was just awaiting her Uber but also sharing advice, telling Tara to cancel her debit card. “you’ll wanna do that right away because they could start spending money right now. “ Thanks girl-waiting-for-her-Uber-driver-who-was-running-late, for stating the obvious. As Tara rolls her eyes and continues chatting with the officer, I re-enter the bar.

I went to the bartender and awaited her attention, as random stranger Brad with a cowboy hat complimented me on my hair. Brad, please don’t offer me a drink as I’m strictly on a mission right now. The bartender comes over and I ask her if anyone has turned in a wallet lately. She asks the other bartenders and they confirm that no, they haven’t received anything. Ok, then next “can you see if anyone has a tab open under Tara’s card?” Not that, either. “But check with the upstairs bars, too,” she advised. I didn’t even know there was an upstairs. I go upstairs and straight to the bartender. The woman next to me is in the middle of ordering a slew of cocktails, and once she’s finished, the bartender asks me what I’d like. There was a man beside me who was there first and despite the urgency, I let him to order first. He politely declines and allows me to go. “Ok, my friend got her wallet stolen, so has anyone turned one in! Also are there any tabs open in her name?” The eyes of the man beside me slightly widen, as I’m sure he’s thinking his little act of chivalry just now amounted to something a little more important than a quicker drink in my hand. Just before I leave to go to the third floor, I spot the suspect, chatting with some girl. I think about approaching him, but what do I say? I scan him, noticing he is wearing baggy pants that could potentially hold Tara’s wide wallet. I call Tara, not knowing what to do, before I spot a bar security officer. “Let me call you back, Tara."

I hang up with Tara, approach the security officer and explain it all. “Can you question him? Search him?” “No, I don’t have the authority to do that. But you can take a picture of him to show the officer.” I feel weird doing that, so I ask if the security guy can watch the suspect for me, to which he agrees.

I exit the bar and find Tara is alone, as the police report is filed and the cop is gone. ”Well I found the guy.” We hail two different cops to explain. They attempt to look for the cop that filed the report, to no avail. “We found the suspect, can you search or question him? He’s in the bar right now.” One cop asks Tara, “I have a question: if he does have your wallet, are you still planning on prosecuting?” “Um, honestly, at this point, I just want my wallet back.” The police, I assume, translate this to “less paperwork” and agree to let me take them in. Tara has to wait outside, since she has no ID to get her in the bar. Since she also uses Chase, I give her my debit card to call the number on the back to cancel her card immediately.

Meanwhile, I enter, flanked by two cops. Some woman in the entry line scoffs about how people keep cutting her. Girl, this is about JUSTICE right now, not gin and tonics. I will enter when I enter!

As I wait to show my ID, a man in a suit who identifies himself as the owner of the bar chats with the cops to ask what’s happening. Once I get past the bouncer, I’m now flanked by two officers and the owner, who lets us take the service elevator upstairs. A barback with a trash can and some drunk girl board the elevator just before us. The owner rushes in, blocking her from exiting as we board, but sternly scolds her, saying the elevator is not for patrons. She looks at the cops and profusely apologizes, not knowing what is happening right now.

We get off the elevator and I rush over to the “watcher” security guy, as the suspect is not sitting at that table anymore. We talk to him, and another security guy walks up. Now it’s me, “watcher” security guy, two cops, the owner, and another security guy. This new one tells us that someone turned in a wallet with Tara’s ID in it, and it was broadcast on the radio about thirty minutes ago. I think it’s a lie, because only fifteen minutes ago did I start asking everyone about this missing wallet and everyone with a radio was clueless. The owner is sure to condescendingly tell me, "It wasn’t stolen; it was just lost.” Really, do we know that everything is in it? Because if I were to steal a wallet, I’d remove stuff and say I ‘happened to find it’ too.

We all get on the elevator, and I’m in an excitedly pleased mood. “They have your wallet, stand by,” I texted Tara. “OMFG OMFG OMFG” she responds.

On the first floor, we all head over to a security guard who holds up the all-too familiar owl-printed wallet. I open it up and see her ID is still there, as well as her debit card. I don’t know which pocket she keeps her cash in but those two important things are there, so I thank the cops and the security guards and the owner profusely. The owner thanks the cops as well and they leave. The owner then turns to me and politely but somewhat condescendingly tells me, “Next time, we have a great staff of bartenders and security support that can help you in this situation, and that we’d prefer to use before wasting other resources.” I calmly respond, “Yes, I see that, but I spoke to two bartenders and two guards before calling in the cops, and your staff were unable to help.” Don’t just dismiss me as some drunk idiot… we handled this the best way we could.

I left and chased down the cops to ask what happens with the police report now. They said they called the officer who filed it and would follow up to let him know not to file it. Essentially, Tara and I were all set. They walked back towards their cars as I pushed my way through the crowded sidewalk to Tara, and victoriously held up the wallet. She squealed and jumped in the air as she ran toward me. She took the wallet and feverishly dug through to be sure everything was there. All the cash was gone, apparently, but everything else seemed to be there. Tara realized it wouldn’t have been much cash anyway, since the previous bar we entered was cash only and that would have left her with only $8 remaining. Congrats, thief, you got one cocktail out of this.

Tara immediately called Chase again to re-open her card, as she now has it in-hand. After speaking to a supervisor and re-calling again, they were only able to send her a new card, as you can’t cancel a card and re-open it again. Also she didn’t know the exact date she opened her account (because she’s a normal person who doesn’t celebrate her annual “bank account opening birthday”) so she didn’t pass the security question test. The best they could do is send her a new card by mid-week. Understandably she was frustrated at this, as she has no other currency in any shape or form. Eventually we settle on the idea that it’s better this way, as someone could have snapped a picture of her card to use later. I offer to be her sugar mama until she gets her new card and she profusely thanks me.

Whew. In the moment, of course, we were in quite the panic and frustration. But now it was 2:20am and all was (mostly) well. I convinced her to hit up one more bar in Printer’s Alley, despite her initial desire to just head home. She was quick to sway with the rush of victoriously acquiring her missing wallet, though.

We went to Printer’s Alley and found the skull bar, but couldn’t find a way in. We asked the bouncer of another nearby bar how to enter and he said ‘bar’s closed, it’s 2:30 right now and all of them close by 3am. You might make it to last call somewhere, if you try.” Ha. Tara is amused that the missing wallet ordeal took almost an hour. We decide to head back to the scene of the crime to take a picture with our now entertained outlook on the whole situation, as well as to witness the bars empty out at closing time. We had quite the fair share of photo bombs, though.

On the sidewalk, one drunk guy asks for Tara’s name and a handshake. “No, since last time I did that, my wallet was stolen. BYE.”

On our return to the hostel, we saw the suspect again, on the sidewalk. We thought about saying something, but didn’t. We got the wallet, and despite the inconvenience, it was all good.

Once we returned to the hostel, Tara went to bed, and I hung out in the lobby watching the guests play pool, board games and foosball as I wound down for bed.

Finally, I called it a night at 4am and went to sleep. Tomorrow Tara and I were heading out by 9am and I had to be “well-rested.”