When I saw the guy walking behind us was wearing a gray hooded NY Knicks sweatshirt, I felt a kinship with a fellow East Coasters living in LA. I turned to glance at him and we made eye contact. He was a good looking African American with a shaved head, out for an evening stroll, enjoying the warm LA night, just like us. Stupid Angelenos, always in their cars. Look how nice it is to walk! My friend I was with however, got a feeling of unease. I could tell because when we turned the corner onto our block, she walked to the door of the first building that came up, to pretend we lived there. I was sure she was being paranoid, but I followed her anyway. Once my back was turned…it happened.
Only a day has passed and I have retold this story countless times. The strange part is, the more I tell it, the more I question what I’m saying. It was like a dream, or rather, a nightmare; you wake up and you only can remember bits and pieces that in reality don’t make sense. When the police showed up and asked us both details, our stories didn’t fully align. I thought he was in sweatpants, she thought she saw jeans. Were we both on the ground? At what point did I end up there? Was I tased too? He had a taser, but maybe it wasn’t that powerful? Or was it a stun gun? My mind and the police were both playing a super annoying game of 20 Questions.
He grabbed me and I felt confusion, and most definitely, shock. “Is this really happening?” I was pushed, or maybe shoved, or truthfully, I have no idea how he did it, but I know I did end up on the ground and I have the chunk of skin missing from my elbow to prove it. He grabbed my cell phone, which was in my hand, and then went for my bag. Luckily, I was wearing a crossbody bag (gentleman, see picture on the right). Since I was on the ground, he was unable to get the bag off of me. I have a vision of him on top of me because I can see his face, close-up, whenever I close my eyes. I also remember seeing him holding my friend and having the taser to her face. I know it was at that point, I realized we were being attacked, and I thought to myself “Oh my god, he could have a gun. Are we going to die?” I can’t connect the dots here as it seemed he was attacking us both at the same time. Was it before I was on the floor or after? It’s a puzzle my mind wants to complete, but can’t. After I was left on the ground, he must have moved back to my friend, because when I looked over, she was several feet away from me, literally being dragged across the sidewalk, holding onto the long straps of her purse while he held the bottom. Like the time I went bungee jumping, I was apparently screaming my lungs out, yet I have no recollection of making a sound. My friend held onto her bag for dear life and as the two of us screamed, neighbors came out onto their balconies and rushed outside of their buildings. He was attacking us on a well-lit driveway, where the scene could be viewed from several apartment buildings. The attacker took off running with the speed of Usain Bolt (I marveled how fast he could run), and like an apparition, there were another man with him, sprinting along his side. The more I think about what happened, the more holes there are in the story. Where was this second man? Was he also attacking us and we weren’t even aware? Both my friend and I thought we were attacked just by NYKnicksFan102, but what was each of us doing while the other one was in his grasp?
If you ever want to meet the neighbors, just get mugged. Seriously, I was amazed by the kindness of everyone who came rushing out of their buildings. Three guys asked us which way the attackers went, and took off running to try and catch them. We were offered water, peroxide for our cuts and a cell phone to try and use the Find My iPhone app (the thief turned off the phone immediately so it was unable to be tracked). We were even offered hugs and one girl gave us a free spa pass! We’re pretty psyched to use that. After our encounter with the asshole who put us in this situation, it was comforting to know there are so many more strangers out there who don’t suck ass (I apologize but my exhaustion has caused my ineloquent use of speech).
The police talked to us as helicopters circled above us (which was kind of cool), and we retold the story, making jokes about the experience. My friend, whose voice starts at a volume higher than the average person, commented that her loudness finally paid off. I was wearing boyfriend jeans with several holes in them and noted how they were the perfect pair to get mugged in. It wasn’t funny at all, yet laughter helped. The police were two young cops, who were very sweet but also seemed like it was their first big call on the job. One of them asked for my cell phone number and any other contact numbers I may have. He then asked which number would be better to reach me on. Probably the one that’s not stolen. After asking us what felt like a million questions (and what felt like way too many questions about the Knicks sweatshirt in particular) they walked us half a block to our building. They came in and walked us to our doors (we live two doors down from each other) and what felt like a very warped double date ended as the two cops dropped us off and we were alone to deal with what just happened.
Sleeping, which is usually an activity I excel in, was very difficult. Every time I closed my eyes, I saw his face. With the help of “The Mindy Project” and “Modern Family”playing on my TV, I finally dozed off for a few hours. The next day, when I was at work, the episode of the attack played on repeat in my head. I had to tell everyone I didn’t have a phone and then before they even asked, the voice in my head was shouting, “because I got mugged!” When someone came up behind me to tuck my shirt tag back into my shirt, I felt shock run throughout my body. After telling my story, a ton of people felt the need to tell me about the time someone they knew got mugged and often, their stories were worse. I realized as a person with comically bad luck, I was lucky. He could have killed us. He could have crippled us. He could have gotten my wallet and had my address, which would forever freak me out. He could have made us put on Obama masks. “He could have…” is a game I could play all day.
My friend and roommate both said they would take a self-defense course with me. Everyone told me I should get pepper spray. While I’ll probably do both of these things, when I think about the experience, I don’t think either would have changed the outcome. It would have been too difficult to reach into my bag and get the spray while he was on top of me. By the time I registered what was happening, I don’t think I would have been able to attack back, for fear of him having gun. And while I know both actions would be smart, a part of me doesn’t want to prepare for next time; I don’t want to feel like it could happen again. I do believe that ignorance is bliss and yet it’s too late for me to be ignorant. If someone could brainwash me to forget the experience, I would gladly let them.
I hate that last night I felt my heart race and my body shaking as I walked alone to my car at night (it was parked in the highly-secure Warner Brothers parking lot). I felt it again as I got into the elevator in my building, and I literally ran from there to my apartment. I know some of these fears are irrational but at the same time, I can’t shake them. Yet. This will pass. I’m already tired of watching this story over and over again in my head. It’s not funny and I’m way more into comedy than I am into drama.