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Hit & Run- NYC Style

March 12, 2009

There are two ways to become a true New Yorker. The first is to be here for a really long time, 10 years is the usual number thrown around. The second is to get mugged- robbed on the street while minding your own business, in fact probably because you were minding your own business.

Last night I became a true New Yorker. And it ain’t because of Door Number 1.

In the criminal’s defense, I was being stupid on many levels. I was walking along a dark street in a bad area- an area I generally avoid, especially after dark. Sure it was only 7:30 at night, but it was dark. Worse of all, I was deep in a conversation on the phone with my friend M about something really important that I was going through and not paying attention to my surroundings, and definitely not being aware, as it’s said.

So there I was minding my own drama and BAM!

Suddenly, someone (a punk) hit the back of my head and tried to grab the phone out of my hand. There was that millisecond where I was wondering if someone I knew was playing a prank on me. But then I realized- I’m in a bad part of Harlem, at night, on a dark street, with few people. I was being attacked.

The adrenaline hit my system a second too late. I wasn’t able to hold on to the phone, and he snatched it, turned around and ran down a side street. But with the adrenaline surging through me, I got angry. I ran after him, hoping to chase him long enough for him to throw the phone down. I was screaming at the top of my lungs “Give me back my fucking phone! Give me back my fucking phone!” over and over. I hoped someone would hear me and stop him. I noticed a couple on the other side of the street and I screamed at them to stop him. They just laughed.

I realized at that point that I couldn’t keep up with him. He was running too fast, and what would I do if he turned around and tried to hurt me? I had my computer with me, and he hadn’t even tried going for it. I decided to cut my losses and meet my friend who was waiting for me. I couldn’t call anyone, so I had to walk to rest of way, huffing and puffing. I was so wound up, with so much adrenaline surging that I had to scream a few more times.

I got my kubaton out. It’s weird, because while it doesn’t exactly look like a weapon, most people seem frightened of it when they see it. It gets attention, and the way you hold it make it obvious that it is not a friendly stick. I hold it with purpose in a clenched fist and I’m usually surprised by how many people do notice it. Plus, in Harlem, an angry screaming white girl holding a piece of wood in a menacing way kind of sticks out.

I made it to the restaurant, and told my friend what happened. At that point I was shaking. The waitress brought over some water, and the cook who had overheard me, came over and offered to call the cops. I briefly considered not doing it, but then I realized a police report might come in handy at some point, and I would never regret getting one, but I might regret not getting one.

The cops came so quickly I didn’t even have time to call anyone on my friend’s phone, except my boyfriend. They wanted me to “canvas” (as they put it) the neighborhood with them, to see if the guy was still walking around the street. I agreed, although I didn’t think it would accomplish anything. I then spent the next 20 minutes riding around in an unmarked car looking for the guy. Of course I never saw him.

The funny thing, the cops kept saying things to each other like, “Let’s go to 119th and check out the drug corner.” or “Why don’t we try that junkie block on 114th.” or even “Let’s see if the gangers are out on 123rd. Maybe it’s one of them.” Word of wisdom for any cops out there: This does not make me feel better. I started trying to memorize where they were suggesting so that I could avoid these places at all costs. Luckily for me, the area is not one I frequent. In fact I make it a point to avoid this particular part of Harlem. But it’s quite another thing to have the fact that all these criminals are actually walking the street with me thrown in my face, especially after I’ve just been the victim of a crime.

Also, patrolling in that unmarked car made me feel very vulnerable. Like someone later would recognize my face. Probably not, but I was feeling that way at the time. Additionally, seeing how these guys pass each and everyone of the loiterers to see if they are a criminal- well, it made me uncomfortable, because what must that do the psyche of these kids. To be constantly viewed suspiciously by a slow moving car must kind of fuck with you and make you feel like your criminality is inevitable. It was a very disconcerting experience to add to my already having been mugged.

Eventually, they gave up and drove me to the precinct so I could fill out a police report. I was in the police station for about an hour, and the detective seemed very bored with me. I mean here I was complaining about a phone. I thanked him for taking time with me, and that seemed to greatly improve his opinion of me. Eventually, he and his partner drove me back to the restaurant where my friend was.

And that’s the end of the story. I feel very lucky that he only took my phone, and that he didn’t hurt me besides a minor bruise on the back of my head where he hit it. He didn’t even knock me over, so it’s pretty clear that he didn’t hit me that hard. I was surprised to discover the bruise while washing my hair this morning. The bruise will fade faster than my fear I think, though.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 13, 2009 7:22 pm

    I’m glad to know the whole story. I’m so sorry on so many levels. You said you didn’t get hurt in your email, but you did. That stinks. I know it could have been worse, but still. I’m also sorry that you have to deal with that fear. That really stinks. I’m sorry you lost your phone.But I’m so grateful you’re generally okay.(Gotta say, the “screaming white girl holding a piece of wood in a menacing way” made me laugh.)

  2. March 23, 2009 11:43 am

    Retarded fucking cops.As i read this post, I got pissed off at them and the guy that mugged you AND the assholes on the other side of the street that just laughed when they saw you screaming at the guy.I’m glad you’re okay though. You should get some pepper spray or something.

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