Abducted in Amsterdam: A Nightmare Scenario


The following narrative is a story about a European business meeting gone wrong.



Many of you know that I recently returned from a three-week trip to The Netherlands.


I have written four articles about my European expedition thus far, which you can find in the Travel and Current Events section of the Social Musings by Austin website.


You might have read about my visits to medieval castles, world-class museums, and off-the-beaten path restaurants for truly local fare.


Or perhaps you noticed my post on Memorial Day weekend about my visit to The Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial.


I love sharing experiences like that with you. It makes me feel good if I can transport you into these moments when I was so grateful to be alive.



However, since I have been back, there is one story from The Netherlands that I haven’t told yet.


It is not inspiring, but rather deeply disturbing.


I feel like I need to get it off my chest; though, so here it is.


********************************************************************************************


The Netherlands is the European country with which I am most familiar.


Not only did I travel to Holland on my post-graduation trip after college and fall in love with the coffeeshops and the Red Light District, but then a few years later I ended up working in Amsterdam with clients when I was an investment banker living in London.


Furthermore, I visit Aruba for a month every year, and I have met numerous Dutch people on holiday on the beach, who have been generous enough to invite me over to stay with them in their homeland.


For those reasons, The Netherlands has always been my top destination in Europe, and I decided I would travel there for my first post-pandemic, European vacation.


The purpose of my visit was to catch up with friends and to generate content for my Social Musings by Austin brand, and I did schedule a business meeting for the day I arrived.



When I landed at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, I was totally jetlagged.


There is nothing like a 10-hour overnight flight to a country seven time zones ahead to really mess up your sleep schedule, and as I walked out the immigration area into the main arrivals area of Schiphol Airport, I was in a daze.


I was in Amsterdam for only one night (Thursday, March 30) before my friends were due to pick me up the following day, and I had planned to spend it alone after my important appointment concluded.


After my meeting, perhaps I would visit an Indonesian restaurant I used to frequent. My father also had recommended a French place in De Pijp called Arles.


Maybe I would even walk through the Red Light District after dinner just for old times’ sake and ideally get a good night’s rest.


My Uber pulled up to the hotel, and I pulled my luggage and acoustic guitar inside.



Thankfully my room was available, owing to my Marriott Platinum status, and my room was large and modern.


I quickly unpacked my bag, plugged in all my electronics and climbed into the queen size bed to take a nap.


I thought that if I fell asleep for a few hours, I would be fine for my meeting, which was at 4pm that day.


As I put in my earplugs and donned my eyeshades (the same getup I had used on my flight over to Amsterdam), I took a final look at my iPhone 12 Pro.


It was 11:11am on Thursday, March 30th.


11:11, I thought. Make a wish.


********************************************************************************************


It was a cold and rainy day, but I was excited to finally be back in Europe after three years away due to the pandemic. As I walked through Dam Square and then the Kalverstraat, I had butterflies in my stomach.


I was actually here again!



My meeting was at the Autoriteit Financiële Markten, also known as the AFM. The AFM is the financial markets regulator in The Netherlands, and I knew several of its staff members from my days working with the Philips Pension Fund during the mid-2000s.


The AFM is located on the Vijzelgracht, which is a beautiful area of Amsterdam near the Heineken Brewery.



I walked in and shook off my umbrella (most Dutch people do not use umbrellas by the way, so an umbrella is a sure-fire give-away that you are a tourist).


I approached the security guard station, where a man and a woman sat in their Securitas-style uniforms, and I explained the purpose of my visit.


The security staff was incredibly cordial, and they directed me towards the left of the desk to wait in the lobby.


I turned to the left and took in the situation.


Unlike American lobbies, the AFM had a comfortable seating area with coffee, tea and newspapers spread across a large, stylish wooden table that looked like it was from a European Pottery Barn.


It was the living room I wish I had, replete with immaculately clean men’s and women’s restrooms. This setup was far superior to the cramped Basic Economy space in which I just spent the last 12 hours.


I breathed a sigh of relief, and I sat down with a much-needed coffee and began to read The Telegraaf, one of The Netherlands’ leading newspapers.



I made note of an article about upcoming pension reform in Holland, being sure to bring it up in my meeting. My eyes also wandered to an article about an Eastern European crime gang operating in Amsterdam targeting tourists. Interesting.


I was taken to the Board meeting where I made a presentation on the US Retirement System. The Netherlands is in the midst of a major pension reform where every employee will be moved from their current defined benefit plan to a more 401k-style retirement system, and I was here to share my expertise.


The Boardroom looked over the Vizjelgracht and the Heineken Brewery, and towards the end I was having trouble concentrating on my remarks as the caffeine wore off.


I may have even drifted off to sleep for a split second during the meeting, but my slumber went by unnoticed.


********************************************************************************************


After the meeting, I was invited for a drink by the staff. We grabbed our coats and walked out into the windy, wet weather. It was 5.30pm and despite the weather, the streets were packed with workers getting off work.


We crossed the street and peered into a restaurant - it was completely full. One of the AFM staff remarked that many Dutch workers do not have work on Friday; therefore, workers in Amsterdam do a lot of work happy hours with their colleagues on the Thursday before they start their weekend (Thursday isn’t called Friday Junior for nothing!).


After unsuccessfully trying to find a spot at several cafes, we finally were able to secure a table at Le Patron, a corner cafe located right on the busy Vijzelgracht plaza.


The atmosphere inside Le Patron was boisterous and full of tourists, office types in suits and typically Dutch pub drinkers. It was golden hour on a Thursday in Amsterdam!


The waiter came to our table. He had a curious smile on his face when he learned that I was American.


My group ordered bitterballen and some Duvel beers, and as the waiter walked behind the bar, I saw him whisper something to the bartender.


They looked at each other and smiled.



The drinks and bitterballen arrived and everyone chanted “Prost”, which means “cheers” in Dutch.


I took a sip of my drink.


During lulls in the conversation, I looked out the floor-to-ceiling windows of the café and watched the trams, bicycles, cars, and pedestrians bustle back and forth. It felt like this entire afternoon was a dream.


By the time I had finished half of my glass, things started getting weird.


I had my glasses on, but it was as if my vision was excessively blurred. My head felt very cloudy. My stomach was turning, and I was nauseous.


I have been highly intoxicated before, especially in my college years, where I would experience the spins and eventually vomit. In fact, once during my time on Wall Street, I was so sick from alcohol poisoning that I threw up inside a VCR machine.



Yes, you heard that right. I opened the flap where the videotapes go in and just let loose.

My roommate came out the next morning to go to work (it was a Sunday and he was an investment banker like me, which meant we worked seven days a week), and was like WTF?


My feeble reasoning was that I couldn't make it to the bathroom so I decided that the VCR machine looked like a reasonable receptacle.

We never watched another VCR again that year.


However, this feeling was different. It was like I had consumed ten beers and been poisoned.


I tried to maintain my composure by focusing on the conversation, which was now fading in and out.


I told myself that it was probably just the jetlag or the fact that I haven't had alcohol in a while and perhaps my tolerance was low.


I looked over at the wall and could not read the words on the Amstel Bier sign.


At this point, the café was standing room only. Through my clouded vision, I could see people standing at the bar eyeing our table.


My friends got up to leave, and I said goodbye and looked for my waiter to pay the bill.


I flagged him down, and he asked me if I was feeling alright.


He told me that I looked unwell and that perhaps I needed to freshen up in the bathroom. He pointed me in the direction of the toilet, which was down a winding hallway inside the bowels of the centuries-old building.


My consciousness was starting to fade in and out, and I was staggering against the side of each wall of the dark hallway.


As I opened the door to the men’s restroom, I saw three men in black ski masks.


That was the last thing I remember.


*******************************************************************************************


My head throbbed.


I was blindfolded and my hands were tied. I was gagged. I could barely breathe through my nose.


I was seated on a metal chair which could not have been more uncomfortable.


I could hear footsteps shuffling around the room. It sounded like water was dripping somewhere, and it smelled dank.


I overheard some muffled voices speaking in some sort of Eastern European dialect.


I have never been so scared in my life.


For what felt like an eternity, I sat in my own excrement and urine. I was still nauseous and felt that I needed to throw up.


I tried to piece together what was happening. I must have been drugged at the café. The Eastern European mob that was mentioned in the paper must have had operatives at Le Patron, especially that suspicious waiter.


I had walked right into a trap.


I was the perfect target - an unsuspecting American tourist. Even better for them, no one would miss me until 24 hours later when my friends were set to pick me up from my hotel.


I was just another lost soul who would maybe make the headlines as a dead American.


********************************************************************************************


I knew I had to do something.


After a while, most of the footsteps left and I heard one person settle into a seat, as it screeched across the floor.


I struggled in my chair hoping to get my captor’s attention.


Footsteps approached.


My blindfold was ripped off.


I wish I could describe to you his face.


His facial features all seemed elongated, and his ears stuck up and out from his head.


Yet despite his upstanding ears, the rest of his features slouched down. His shoulders seemed to stick out from his tattered dirty shirt.


He was scurrying around me, so I couldn’t get a good look.


His teeth were yellow and seemed to have points on them. His mouth was getting closer to me.


He was screeching in a high voice.


WE GOT YOU


WE GOT YOU


WE GOT YOU




********************************************************************************************


I screamed as I shot upwards in my bed.


I was soaked in my own sweat.



I looked around.


I was back at my hotel.


I looked at my phone, and it was only then that I realized the kidnapping was all a dream.


I had just woken up from my nap after arriving in Amsterdam; it was 3pm on Thursday afternoon.


I was about to head to my meeting at the AFM.


The End.


NOTE TO READERS:  While this story is a work of fiction, it is based on an actual nightmare I experienced when I was over in The Netherlands.  When I woke up terrified and drenched in sweat, I decided to write a story about my dream.  

In addition, I also have heard numerous troubling stories recently about friends being drugged while out in downtown Austin, and I wanted to write this story to call attention to this emerging threat to our safety.  

Please be careful out there, wherever you may be in the world.  
    

If you enjoyed this original story, you can also check out my other original stories, such as "Tragedy in Paradise" or "Dating Apps Can Be Deadly," available on my Apple Podcast here and in the Original Stories and Songs section of this website.



I will also be recording this story and dropping it to the Social Musings by Austin podcast this month. Please follow the podcast so that you can listen to my latest episodes as soon as they come out.


I am really enjoying my encore career as a writer, musician and podcaster, and I was honored to be interviewed recently by my alma mater, The University of Texas at Austin, for their McCombs Business School alumni publication.


In the interview, I discuss my career, my time at UT and my advice for recent graduates.



You can find the article here.


Let me know what you think of my latest story in the comments below, and I am excited to bring you more new, fresh, original content in the months to come.


Stay tuned.

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