It’s been one of those days.  Nothing has gone right today and all I want to do is wallow in self-pity.  As much as I would like to do that, I don’t even think I have the energy for it.  As I found myself getting more and more frustrated with everything around me, an interesting memory popped into my head.

This incident is a true testament to how I handled a bad situation.  Maybe my dissatisfaction with today caused me to think about it, I dunno??  Anyway I thought, if I could handle this, I can handle anything.

This happened right before I moved out to Arizona.  I was finishing my Masters and tying up loose ends as I closed up my last few weeks of work.  I was running on fumes as I was working over 50 hours a week, doing my  practicum for 15 hours a week and taking two classes.  On top of that my ex-boyfriend of 2 1/2 years broke up with me.  Despite all this going on, I knew it would all be over soon.  I was graduating in a few weeks and moving out to Arizona soon after that.  I was excited to start a new chapter in my life.

I was on my way back to work from a meeting with my practicum advisor.   I had already worked 9 hours that day, but needed to do more work to get ready for an event.  It was about 5:00 on a weekday afternoon.  I worked in a strip mall with a major grocery store and a women’s fitness center attached.  At that time of day the mall was always packed with people. 

As I was walking through the parking lot to go up to my office.  A man came up and grabbed at my purse.  I fell down to the ground and he dragged me from one end of the parking aisle to the other.  At that point, it hadn’t dawned on me what was happening.  When I realized what was going on, I immediately pulled on my purse  and said “F*ck You!” 

Most smart people would have let go of their purse and run away screaming bloody murder.  I guess I wasn’t that smart.  As I was on the ground still holding my purse, I was pulling it back towards me in hopes that he would let it go.  I guess he knew I wasn’t going to give it up.  One of his hands started reaching into his coat.  I looked right up at him and thought, “Oh my God, he has a gun and he’s gonna shoot me in the head.”  One would think with that thought, “let go of the purse.”  Well, I didn’t do that either.  The guy pulled out a knife and cut my purse strap and ran away. 

I got up quickly and tried to run after him.  I was wearing four inch heels and couldn’t quite move that fast.  After I remembered he had a knife, I thought “it probably isn’t a good idea to chase after him.” 

As I was walking up towards the mall trying to wipe the dirt off my pants, this woman came up to me all frantic and screaming, “It could have been me.  Oh my God, that could have been me.” 

I was thinking, “I wish it were you.” Deep down, I don’t wish it upon anyone, but at that time she was really annoying.

She later told me that she thought it was a boyfriend of mine and that we were having a fight.  I was a bit offended.  First off, because the guy was really ugly and I know my taste is a lot better than that.   Secondly, I was really mad at the fact that no one would have done anything if they thought my boyfriend was beating me up.  In hindsight, I was beyond offended.  It made me really mad that no one would think to help if they had any notion it were a domestic violence situation.  That’s very sad to me.

Anyway, the lady asked me repeatedly, “Why didn’t you scream?” Out of frustration, I told her “It wouldn’t have made a difference, you wouldn’t have done anything anyway.”  Yes, I was mad at the fact the whole mugging went on, but I think I was more mad at the fact that no one did anything to help.  There were over ten witnesses on the street alone and plenty of people in the stores around.  No one said a word.  No one ran after him.  I’m glad at least someone thought to call the police.

After a working my last semester practicum with Victim Services in St. Louis City, I had experience working with people who went through situations just like mine.  Most of the victims I spoke too were traumatized over muggings and burglaries.  Some I encountered were afraid to leave their homes.  That evening I called my practicum supervisor and warned her that my name might pop up in the system.  I told her what had happened and confessed that I probably did a stupid thing by not giving up my purse.  She told me that people handle stressful situations in different ways and after the week I had been through, she doesn’t doubt the fact that I told the guy off and tried to fight for my purse.  My instinct at that time was to fight and not take anymore crap.  And that’s exactly what I did.  If I weren’t in that frame of mind, who knows that I would have done.  I probably would have ran away screaming.  Honestly, I probably wouldn’t run way.  After a few other incidences, I know I’m a fighter.  I’ll tell you those stories another time.

For the week to follow, I was hero amongst the nerdy security guards at the strip mall.  I got a good discount at the chinese buffet below the offices I worked at.  And I got huge nods from the women trainers at the fitness centers.  Yes, the mugging was an awful experience.  One that I don’t ever want to go through again.  But what I am the most proud of is that I didn’t let this bad experience take hold of my life. 

Yes, I’m more cautious.  And (God forbid) if this were to happen again, I know I would handle this situation differently.  In comparison to what happened to me over 3 1/2 years ago, I won’t let my crappy day today bring me down.

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