Last Friday, two men blocked my path on my way home from work. Using a knife, a gun, and the darkness to convince me, they requested my phone, wallet, and backpack. I complied and they ran out of sight. Adrenaline carried me home.
The transaction took less two minutes. In reverse, it’d be a terrific ad for a service called “Hey, you forgot this.”
The aftermath is taking longer. A week later and all the king’s horses are still calling 800 numbers. A police report has been filed. My erstwhile electronics have been zapped. New plastic cards have been dispatched. In seven to ten business days I’ll be put together again.
Today, I went to the DMV before sunrise. “Why do you need a new driver’s license?” Because I walked the wrong way.
The men didn’t get to use their tools, but punctured my ego all the same. As though I kept my confidence somewhere in the bottom of my backpack. And though they didn’t offer a receipt, the muggers left me with dozens of foggy revenge fantasies in the corners of my mind. I take care not to think too far in the wrong direction.
I have not since walked over that same stretch of Earth, but I will today, because this is my neighborhood. Fear lives in many places, but living in fear is housing I can’t afford. Plus it’s on the way to the train station, which is on the way to work, which is how I carry anything worth requesting in the darkness in the first place.
I gave those fellas a bunch of stuff. They gave me an armful of bureaucratic errands and gratitude for everything else.