• Thu, Jan 26 2012

How I Outran My Muggers

Have you ever spent time fantasizing about how you’d do in a crime-type situation? I have, and in my fantasies, I always lose. I curl up into the fetal position on the ground and offer my assailant all of my money, my ATM password, and the keys to my roommate’s car, just please don’t hurt me, Mr. Scary Mugger Man. But when I actually found myself menaced by some unsavory young people, it didn’t play out that way at all, and that’s why I’m writing this boast post.

A couple years ago, I was walking home from a party in Bushwick around 3am with my friend Barbara, a Spanish Suicidegirl who was visiting New York for the first time. As the party was less than a ten-minute walk from my house, I didn’t even think to take a cab. I’d never been fucked with in the seven years I’d lived in New York and felt somewhat invincible.

As we walked along Broadway, I noticed a rowdy group of teenage girls behind us but didn’t pay them much mind, because Broadway is a main drag that goes lots of places. I’d been living in Brooklyn for a while at this point, so I didn’t even think to question why a group of teenage girls was out at 3am.

When we turned the corner onto my street, they turned with us. They also got really quiet. That’s weird, I thought. There’s nothing down here but my house, a bunch of Hasidic Jew housing and the Marcy Projects. Maybe they’re going there? To make curfew? Yeah, right. It was at this point that I floated the idea that we were being followed.

“You really think so?” my Spanish visitor asked. “Anyway, it is just girls. What are they going to do?”

“A teenage girl is like a pitbull, Barbara,” I said softly. “They don’t know when to let go.”

We decided it would be prudent to cross the street. They crossed behind us. Then they started yelling aggressive, mostly unintelligible things at us. We sped up a little. They sped up and shouted “yo! yo!” We were now just hitting my block, so I told Barbara, “on the count of three, we are going to run.”

So we ran. Oh, how we ran! Barbara’s a model with ten-foot-long legs so I expected her to do fine. But I’m 5’4″, and was not in the best of shape, running-wise. Nevertheless, as my reptilian “fight or flight response” kicked in, an insane burst of adrenaline gave me the energy I needed to run like I’d never run before. My heels were slowing me down, so I kicked them off. Because I’m slightly paranoid and always have my keys out while walking home, I got us in the door just in time. The teenage gang debs banged on the door like something out of a horror movie, then were gone.

“Holy shit,” I said, struggling to catch my breath. “I’m so sorry.” I felt bad that this had happened on Barbara’s first night in New York, and didn’t want her to get a negative impression of my city. “You saved my life!” she gasped, “oh my God.” Once inside, we drank some beers and calmed down. Now it’s a fun story we both like to tell. I never in a million years thought I’d be able to evade even the most incompetent of muggers. [tagbox tag="crime"]

What were the girls planning to do to us? Who knows. Maybe they were only trying to scare us a little, or maybe they wanted to beat the crap out of us and take our phones. All I know is it was approximately five against two, and despite their youth, they were bigger than us. “Flight” was the appropriate response.

The strangest part of this story came the next morning, when I left the house (after looking both ways) and found my shoes still there on the sidewalk. Someone had stood them up and carefully placed them together, as if organizing a shoe closet. Who was this mystery shoe organizer? Had one of the girls felt bad and returned to the scene of the attempted crime? Probably not, but who knows? Maybe she’d tried them on and they hadn’t fit her.

I guess the point of this story is that we are all capable of more than we think we are. Obviously, you should use your brain and size up each situation you’re in, but just because some little shit wants to mug you doesn’t necessarily mean you should give in right away. Also, don’t skimp on the cardio. Its benefits may someday extend beyond a toned physique.

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  • Maggie

    When I was in high school, my Dad lived in one of the “rougher” areas of our town, and one night I was walking home by myself (stupid teenage me) when two guys walked out of an alley in front of me and told me to give them my purse. What my would-be muggers didn’t realize was that I knew them both from school; I laughed at them, called them by name, and told them to get the hell away from me or I would call the police and tell the principal on Monday. Needless to say, they took off pretty fast.
    I realize this situation could still have gone badly for me, but I think the fact that I was so blatantly not intimidated by them (or pretended to be) threw them off their game and saved me from being mugged by two teenage idiots.

    • Jamie Peck

      Awesome.

  • Fabel

    Oh, New York. You might get chased down the street by a group of crazies, but then another strange somebody will organize the shoes you lost while running.

  • kips

    What an awesome and inspiring story! The shoe detail is the perfect touch.

  • kips

    Damn, Maggie’s story is a good one too! I hope I never get mugged! I’ll probably get mugged today.

  • sara

    This story is AWESOME!!

    I got mugged by a dude several years ago who snuck up behind me and beat the living crap out of me with a glass bottle. I actually felt his presence behind me and dismissed it as me “overreacting”.

    So, I share that story not to make anyone feel bad for me, but to reiterate that Jamie was right to run like hell. Better to feel silly than end up spending two weeks with a smashed up face..uggh!!

  • MR

    The worst is a broken jagged bottle head thrusted at you like a jousting pole. Fortunately, I had my belt off already, and it extended down with its buckle knotted, so I had the reach on him.

    • MR

      PS. Jamie, just so you know that happened in the late ’70s in what was then distressed inner-city Brooklyn. Plus my friends and I were in a place where we weren’t supposed to be. Yeah, we were far, far from home.

  • Kj

    Wow, that confirms my “grab the keys” thing before I go outside! Glad you were ok!

    Once, I saw these two sketchy dudes “inspecting” my bike very closely. This was on a main street, but just on the edge of the shifty part of town. Man, I freaked out and totally told them to back off. It was hilarious – it’s like the “fight” reaction kicked in without my even knowing.

  • antwan

    you’re awesome.