I never told you about the time I got mugged and stabbed.
I was 22 years old and a university student on exchange in Guyana, South America. I had been living there for almost a year. I liked the people, I liked the area and I felt comfortable. Too comfortable. I let my guard down and lived to regret it. (Mistake #1! Don't Ever Let Your Guard Down)
How I Got Mugged…
One weekend a Canadian researcher arrived at the university dorm compound. The Guyanese students had gone home for the weekend and it was just the two of us still at the dorm so we thought we would go out and do something fun. We jumped on a mini-bus and headed into town. This was an unplanned adventure so I needed to stop at the bank machine and get some cash. It was already dark when we walked to the bank. (Mistake #2! Don't Go to the Bank Machine After Dark. If somebody wants to mug somebody else, targeting someone who has just left a bank machine is an effective strategy. People leaving banks usually have money on them). But I was being clueless and not thinking like a bad-guy (Mistake #3! Don't be Naive! You've Got To Be Aware of How Your Enemy Thinks). And if I am going to be brutally honest, two foreigners leaving a bank together after dark in that particular country at that particular time is going to draw some attention to ourselves. Onlookers would assume that we are tourists, not broke college students. (Mistake #4! Don't Draw Attention to Yourself By Being in an Unwise Place at an Unwise Time).
After stopping at the bank machine we started walking back up the street. My friend walked on my right and we chatted as we walked, but we were looking ahead and not at each other. I didn't have a pocket and so I held my wallet in my hand. (Mistake #5! I Might As Well Have Served The Wallet to the Theif on a Silver Platter! It Was Way Too Easy To Snatch Out of My Hand!)
Suddenly I felt someone's arm slip around my shoulder. I turned my head and found myself eyeball-to-eyeball with a stranger. And right behind him were his two friends. I saw the flash of a knife against my hand and with a shock, I realized this man was reaching for my wallet. One thought ran through my mind…
My Driver's License is in there! If he steals it I'm going to have to spend HOURS waiting in line at the DMV…
(Are you groaning yet?)
When somebody mugs you, it happens fast. Instinct kicks in and you don't have time to think. So what did my instincts tell me to do?
My instincts steered me wrong, y'all. They told me to save my drivers' license. Anything to save myself a long wait at the DMV. I screamed. I fought, trying to keep holding onto my wallet. When he got my wallet I jumped on him trying to get it back. (Mistake! MISTAKE! MISTAKE!!!) As he ran away I got a handful of his shirt in my fist. I have a slow-motion image in my mind of him turning and looking at me, twisting his body to allow the shirt to rip off while he and his friends ran away (with my wallet). I screamed “Stop Him! Stop Him!” and my companion who was just realizing what had happened right next to him in an instant gave chase, but in a few seconds he realized what a stupid idea that was and came back without my wallet and to make sure I was ok.
A little stunned, we weren't quite sure what to do so we kept walking. As we turned a corner we ran into friends and I held my hand up to explain to them I had just been robbed. Blood dripped down my arm. I had been stabbed in the hand.
And for what? The only thing my wallet had in it was $12 and a drivers license.
You Can't Always Trust Your Instincts
My story has a happy ending. I was able to go to the hospital and get stitched up that night. I have a slight scar that is barely noticeable. Nearly two decades later I can look back at my stupidity and laugh.
But it could have been so, so much worse.
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