a garden in riotous bloom
Beautiful. Damn hard. Increasingly useful.
"You can't outrun a bullet" 
11 December 2011 02:27 - "You can't outrun a bullet"
angry, displeased, disgusted, disapproval, pissed
We are all completely fine. I say this because it is a useful way to preface a post about having fended off three would-be muggers.

Josh and X and I were walking up through Isham Park after dinner, around 10:30 p.m. on a Saturday. We're generally alert around the north edge of the park, since it's where two guys tried to mug Josh a couple of years ago, but we weren't being super-vigilant; they've improved the lighting and cut back the trees, and it was a fairly busy time of night, and there were plenty of people around.

In fact, three of those people--young men, age 19 to 22 or so--were walking very closely behind us. VERY closely. And they had black scarves over their faces. I think Josh noticed them first and then we all did and started walking faster.

One guy made beckoning motions and said something like "C'mere, c'mere". We continued walking faster. Then he reached into his jacket and pulled out an object that was supposed to look like a gun. For a moment, I thought it was one, and I slowed a bit and said "Uh, guys?" to suggest that Josh and Xtina should look at him and be aware that he was threatening us with a weapon and that sort of changed the situation.

Then I looked at it again. It did not look like a gun. It looked like an L-shaped piece of plastic. And he didn't handle it like a gun. I have seen handguns up close all of twice, in very different conditions; I am not anything like an expert. I knew this even as I was making the assessment, and I knew that a wrong assessment would be very dangerous. But... it just wasn't right.

He sort of gestured with it and murmured, "I could blast you away right here."

Reader, I laughed. I'm sort of horrified to admit this now, but I did. It was just so ludicrous! "Blast you away"? Here? With so many people around? With a fake gun? An incredulous "ha!" came out of me before I could stop it. And that reminded me that I could make noise, and that I should make noise--yay for years of anxiety-induced self-training and reading up on what to do in this sort of situation--and I pulled out my project-from-the-diaphragm voice and shouted, "GET THE FUCK AWAY FROM HERE!"

Meanwhile, Xtina had her phone out and was dialing 911, and Josh was giving them his best intimidating look (helped by his bulky jacket and him being rather bigger and stronger than any two of them put together). And some other people were coming down the street and looking our way. And we were well out of the park now and in front of apartment buildings with windows at street level. And it was Saturday night, for heaven's sake, and cars and pedestrians all over the place. The three guys glanced nervously at one another and decided this was not where they wanted to be, and they headed back into the park.

We did not try to follow them. We went home, and I called the cops, and two minutes later the cops picked us up (they happened to already be down the street) and took us to where five teens had been stopped by other cops, and they asked us if we could identify any of them as the ones who had tried to mug us. We couldn't, really, because they had been wearing masks and it was dark, but it didn't look like the same people. It looked like some kids had been stopped for walking while POC, basically. They were bored and annoyed. The youngest was maybe 13, and clearly familiar with the routine: get patted down, give your name and address, blah blah blah, come on, man, I just wanted to hang out with my friends. I thought of [personal profile] karnythia's sons and it all just broke my heart.

One of the kids had a black face mask in his pocket, and the cops asked us if he looked familiar, but by then I was keenly aware of us being a bunch of white adults about to pass judgment on a bunch of non-white kids, and we couldn't conclusively ID them, and I don't know about the others but I was really done. My heart had been pounding for twenty minutes straight. These kids had probably been pulled over before we even made the call. It was all just stupid and sad.

So we apologized to the cops for not being useful (they were clearly irritated by our reluctance but carefully polite nonetheless) and thanked them for being so quick to respond, and we went home, and Xtina and Josh had some whiskey and I had some taurine and we hugged one another a lot and made bravado jokes and did housework and buried ourselves in the internet while our hindbrains attempted to make sense of all of it. The others thanked me for shouting and I second-guessed myself a whole lot (though even my finely honed second-guessing mechanism had to admit that we had reached the best possible outcome and so I could probably feel reasonably confident that we all behaved appropriately). I set up a PIN to unlock my phone because the PIN screen has an emergency call button on it. Josh went to bed. Xtina bustled around. I tweeted. We hugged more.

We are shaken and sad--oh, so sad, for those kids and the wannabe muggers and the whole fucked-up culture--and once we're done with that we'll probably be angry and annoyed and sad. Also very glad that no one got hurt, obviously, and vaguely glad they didn't get any of our stuff, though I only barely care about that. A few phones and some small bills, whatever.

Of course that is exactly why you're not supposed to fight back when someone tries to mug you. Not getting shot is far more important than material goods! But there is a third element to the equation, as it turns out, and that element is being completely fucking outraged and disbelieving and appalled by the entire situation. I didn't feel intimidated or scared or out of my depth, even in that indescribable moment when I saw the guy reach into his jacket and knew he was going to bring out a weapon. I just thought, oh, this changes things. Then I realized (or believed--I suppose I will never be entirely sure) that it wasn't real, and that changed things again and suddenly the whole thing was just ridiculous and outrageous, and I reacted the way I react to ridiculous, outrageous things: laugh at them and tell them to fuck off.

I think it was the same for Josh when he was attacked a couple of years ago. One of the guys hit him over the head with a bat. It didn't knock him out. It just made him pissed. He turned around and yelled at them--not because he'd been trained to but because he was startled and angry--and they ran.

I am very, very aware just at the moment of how much societal privilege goes into reactions like that. I'm very glad and grateful to have such privilege. I am furious beyond words at this fucked-up culture, at the white cops stop-and-frisking the nonwhite kids, at the gutted economy that drives people to steal for a living, at the muggers' casual assumption that we would be completely freaked out and compliant, all of it, all of it, all of it.

At least some of that is clearly the last of the adrenaline leaving my system, as I'm also starting to feel really tired.

Before I sign off for the night, a brief attempt to answer some of the likely comments: Yes, we still feel generally safe and happy in this neighborhood and plan to stay here. Yes, we will probably be avoiding that particular route home after dark. Yes, we really are fine. I probably won't have the mental wherewithal to answer most comments directly, but please accept my advance appreciation for your expressions of kind concern.

I have no idea how to tag this.


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11 December 2011 07:45
You did a good job. Really, I think that was about the best possible resolution to the situation. I'm so sorry that the system is broken and the economy's bad and that you had an encounter where you had to be worried about the safety of yourself and your loved ones (even if adrenaline-shock didn't have you thinking of it that way at the time, which is totally normal). I'm glad that, awful as it was, you pretty much made the best of it and were still the just and sympathetic person that you are.
11 December 2011 08:02
Good for you for not being intimidated. And very glad you're all okay. *big hugs*
11 December 2011 08:13
Oh good grief. Again?!? Sigh.

I'm so glad to hear that they were lousy muggers and that you're all okay.
11 December 2011 08:37
I'm very glad that a) you guys had presences of mind at the time, and b) did not let the police peer-pressure you into joining into the "Let's Grab A Random POC!" 'fun'.

But. Glah.
11 December 2011 17:17
This.
11 December 2011 09:28
You could just tag the post, "All of it."

I'm glad you're all right.
11 December 2011 11:33
abrazos!
11 December 2011 12:23
I don't want to skip kind concern. I care about the three of you, and I'm so glad you're all right.

But what particularly strikes me is the beautiful complexity of your responses, then and now.

I wish more people had complex responses like yours. I have the feeling that many are horrified and sickened by noticing or feeling anything beyond good guys and bad guys, which nearly automatically leads people to be Good while others are Bad.

Love y'all.
11 December 2011 13:34
I am SO glad you're all alright!
11 December 2011 13:39
What an adventure in living.

*hugs you a lot*

I'm really glad you're okay, and fast-thinking and awesome. And I agree with amaebi -- I am very impressed with your complex and empathetic response. But then, you're wise and nifty like that.

*hugs you a lot more*
11 December 2011 14:02
Wow. Just...wow.
11 December 2011 14:09
I am very glad you are okay and impressed with your grace under pressure.
11 December 2011 14:17
Glad to see you are more stirred than shaken. Seriously, though, I am relieved no one was hurt.
11 December 2011 14:28
I am quite relieved you all are well and made it out of that unscathed (relatively speaking). I'm impressed that you remembered to make noise, and how you all banded together as a unit to do the best that you could in the situation. Hugs to all!
11 December 2011 14:39
So glad you're all okay!
11 December 2011 15:08
OMG, I'm just glad you three are OK. And you survived, which means that whatever you did was the right thing to do. ::ehugs, even xtina, who I don't know, but I'm the huggy type so maybe she won't mind::
11 December 2011 15:49
Glad you're safe
11 December 2011 17:01
Scary as hell, but a good outcome. I hope you all continue to remain safe and healthy!
11 December 2011 17:28
I am so glad you're okay, and so glad that you are who you are.
11 December 2011 18:22
Yikes, I'm glad you are all okay. And it does so very much suck that you call the police -- because clearly you have to -- and they show you a bunch of random teenagers and wish you'd just say they were the muggers. As if the actual experience wasn't bad enough.

P.
12 December 2011 01:21
Echoing everyone else that I'm glad you're ok and that your gut, reflex, instinct, and all that were up to the task of accurately and quickly assessing the situation and responding appropriately - and you didn't let your emotions take control in a bad way after the fact.

Keep up the goodness.
12 December 2011 02:36
I'm so glad you're alright.
12 December 2011 05:01
Glad you're okay!
12 December 2011 06:30
Very glad you're all okay.
12 December 2011 17:34
glad you're well, and glad you posted. the case study is valuable too, and it was really brave of you to sit down while shaken and record it.
12 December 2011 19:48
So glad you could tap into the strength and fortitude we all have inside us. Brava!
13 December 2011 15:47
EEP! So glad the three of you are safe now!

You all did the right things. Once you saw that there was no real weapon, noise was your best ally. Hell, it would have been anyway, because the last thing those gits wanted to be was caught.

Now, just remember to breathe. You won.
13 December 2011 17:26
*Releasing deep breath* Glad you're OK!
14 December 2011 18:52
I am glad to hear that you were able to scare away the attackers, and none of your family was harmed.

I am sorry to hear that it happened in the first place.
16 December 2011 08:20
wow, glad everyone's okay!
25 January 2012 13:30
I followed a link over this way and have to say... HUZZAH! I think this was an amazing endeavor... and still am curious to find out why thy thought that putting that word in the headline was so darned important?! I mean what matters is you thwarted the crooks, AND are ok and safe!

Darn media...
21 August 2013 08:53
Sending you a big hug. You did brilliantly.
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