Sometimes, it doesn’t pay off to be early. Anyone who is ”Type A” would immediately disagree with this statement, but take it from this Type A, awareness is more important than timeliness. Here’s why: being even slightly unaware could make you the victim of a mugging. At least it did for me. Here's the story of my mugging and what I think are the mistakes I made that put me in a dangerous situation. I hope you learn from them.
It was a typical Friday. I wouldn't even have remembered it except for what ended up happening. You know the days when your work day is slammed, you sit in traffic, you rush home to feed your dog and change so that you can meet all of you best friends for a dinner a few blocks from your house. I received a phone call from a friend meeting us at the restaurant and considering the drive to the restaurant was short, we stayed on the phone - this was my first mistake.
I informed my friend on the phone that the street behind the restaurant was busy and I noted that a security guard was present on the street (this failed to help me). I told her my exact location so that she could park next to me and we could walk back to our cars together after dinner (you know, for safety). I opted for the spot on the street to the side of the restaurant where I saw all of the pedestrians walking around the neighborhood. Mistake number two.
I assumed that since there were lots of people walking around, my safety was intact. I would be wrong. Getting out of the car (early as always) I was still on the phone with my friend. I locked my car and got on the sidewalk to walk the 50 feet to the restaurant door. Yep, 50 feet. Your safety can be compromised in 50 feet, remember that. I had only been taken four steps on the sidewalk before I heard the most violent running I have ever heard in my life. I whipped around and was face to face with a loaded gun and a man yelling at me. I couldn’t scream, I couldn't make a sound, I was in such shock. Mistake number three.
This man, now in control of my life was walking toward me and he had me sandwiched between a car and him. Upon backing up, I tripped and was now on the ground with him and his loaded gun above me. This prevented me from leaving the situation. To anyone walking by you wouldn’t see the girl nearly under a car because who would be looking for that? I still had my purse on my right arm and as he continued to yell, I slid my purse to him without looking at him. I made the choice to not make eye contact with him so he wouldn't think I could identify him. I didn’t want to give him more reason to harm me. I did focus on the gun, his voice and his hairstyle. It was dark enough that his features wouldn’t have been recognizable. In the moments you know your life could be taken from you, you wait for the calm. I was sure that after I had handed over my purse that this would end. Mistake number four.
My attacker then started yelling about my phone. The fact that he thought I had any idea where my phone was baffled me. Then, it enraged me. He had my purse which had my license, passport, and keys to my car and house. This person would leave the scene and know everything about me. Since I had no idea where my phone was in the shuffle I yelled back “I don’t know where it is!” Something about me having a voice that was now angered caused him to stop and he patted me on my shoulder and said “Okay, okay it’s going to be okay.” I’m sorry sir, have you just been a part of the last couple minutes? Everything is not ok.
My phone was on the entire time and had fallen under the car. My friend heard the whole incident and knew I was in trouble. Since I had told her where I was she was able to call our other friends en route and notify everyone where I was located.
My mugger took off running and I got myself up, now bleeding from my knee, and went RUNNING to the first people I saw coming out of the alley. Now there’s irony in that, a couple coming out of a dark alley is safe right after I was mugged on a public street. I went running up to the couple and explained what happened and told them I didn’t have a phone and needed them to call 911. They didn’t. Mistake number five.
The guy from the alley decided this was his chance to be a knight in shining armor and went looking for my mugger. I slid myself back under the car where I was mugged and I called 911 myself. Immediately the cops, an ambulance and all of my girl friends arrived.
One friend parked behind my car and sat in the car so it couldn’t be stolen, one called and canceled all of my credit cards and one called her boyfriend to retrieve my dog from the house and gather things so I could stay elsewhere. In just minutes your safety can be compromised and you could be traumatized. As fate would have it, the next night this happened in the same area and a local business owner followed the getaway car, was shot at, but retrieved the license plate. This all ends with me testifying in court, face-to-face with my mugger, and this time I was prepared for him. Something tells me he won’t forget me after my testimony. Let’s just say sometimes I can be, for a lack of a better word, abrupt.
Every situation is different and there are times when no matter how prepared you are, things will happen to you. Here are some important tips to help you avoid becoming victim of a mugging:
1. Put down your phones, be truly aware of your surroundings. Although telling my friend where I was helped and having my phone allowed me to call 911, it did hinder my awareness and could have been the sole reason I was targeted.
2. Never assume that because a street is crowded or because you see people you are safe. There was a security guard who was walking back and forth that night and happened to be on the opposite street at the time of my incident.
3. SCREAM, give them bloody hell. Look, this is your life at risk - go down with a fight. No mugger wants attention drawn to what is happening and do you know how hard it is to replace a passport?
4. Never assume your attack is over. Until your attacker is out of sight, you are still in danger.
5. Sometimes you have to do it yourself, so toughen up and get the right people involved. Most importantly, don’t let anyone tell you that it would be different if you had a gun. If I had a gun it would be in my car or my purse, which was stolen, and no one says “Excuse me sir can you hold on a second and let me retrieve my gun.” Get real. Have pepper spray on your key chain and scream your ass off. Your life depends on it.