Saturday, March 26, 2005

M19 Readers Respond

More than any post, “Yet Again” has engendered some interesting responses. Names have been redacted to protect the innocent.

"I had a very similar experience last weekend at Wal-Mart. I was cornered by 3 determined girlscouts with Mom's standing ready demanding a large purchase of girlscout cookies. I was frightened, much like you, but I held my own, and escaped without harm by distracting them with a fictitious statement that Britney Spears was around the corner signing her new CD, at which point they darted away in search of their false God. I'll never forget the encounter, but life goes on, and just like you (you "will walk the streets again"), I "will shop Wal-Mart again" - girl scouts or no girl scouts. And, yes, I did enjoy a beer (several) after my traumatic experience (and the stolen girl scout cookie weren't bad either). Seriously, though, glad you made it out of your situation unharmed, and with the iPOD."
--Washington, DC

"Compelling. Man, I'm glad you're capturing all this." --Washington, DC

"Can you please be more careful!!!" --Cary, NC
Si, yo puedo.

"What happens if next time, at a whim, the assailant decides to cut off part of a finger or something? --Washington, DC
I am reminded of a certain scene in “Man On Fire” where Denzel Washington cuts the fingers off a bad guy. It was set here in Mexico City.

"Are they giving you hazardous job pay?"
--Washington, DC

"I think I need to teach you some judo/boxing for self defense. NOT that you want to fight back in a case like this, but just in case in some situation where you have NO choice. I would recommend looking into some classes down there. Namely, judo (throws & ground fighting), boxing, muay thai boxing (strong kicks, knees, elbows along with punches) or Brazilian jujitsu (submissions, ground fighting i.e., chokes & arm bars)." --Washington, DC

"How awful, I am so sorry to hear that. You shouldn't be quite so matter of fact about it. They held a knife to you, it doesn't matter if the knife was not good enough to cut 'your tofu'. Next time it could be a gun. All I am saying is be careful. You stick out like a sore thumb in Mexico and cannot act like locals. Next time you leave the office late, just take a cab. This time you were lucky, someone up there was looking out for you. Next time may be a different scenario (God forbid)" --Washington, DC

"Good thing you weren't listening to the pod..." --Washington, DC

"What a great story! All these crazy things happen to you. I am very grateful that nothing of the sort ever happened to me when I was there” –Minnesota

“(Next time) I suggest you use military drill sergeant tactics through overwhelming fire power. In case you are having difficulties harnessing your anger, think of you ex roommate in DC. Next, you need not stand tall cause they are at nipple level, think in Spanish and you spit out in a deep, forceful tone all the bad words you can think of and act crazy your fire power is your words. ‘LOS VOY A MATAAARRR HIJOS DE PUTAS!!! RECONCHA SU MADRE!!! COME MIERDA!!! PENDEJOS, CABRONES, CULEROS!!!! LESBIANA CON PELOTAS!!! ELEFANTE MARICON!!! Pene de chino!!!! GANDUL MALCAGADO!!! CHAPARITO SIN DIENTES!’” – San Jose, California

Thursday, March 10, 2005

M18 Yet Again

Yet again.

Tonight, I left the office slightly later than I usually do at 8pm. I’ve become very comfortable in Mexico and it feels very safe.

Reminder; feel and real are not the same.

I walk through a “peatones” (this word reminds me so much of the word “peon” and is apropos given the relationship of pedestrians to cars here) or pedestrian tunnel underneath Reforma, Mexico’s version of 5th Avenue. This leads to the subway entrance of Chapultepec station that allows me to make an exit at the far side of the station thus avoiding crossing a highway.

The whole trip, office to home, is no more than a 25 minute stroll.

I usually don’t like walking around when I am dressed in my Burberry’s or Hugo Boss suits but tonight, I make an exception. And I am learning that in Latin America when you make an exception to safety that it’s the rule that you will get in trouble.

Tonight - like all nights - it's well lit and crowded, but not overly so.

But that doesn't stop three guys from cornering me.

I drop my Northface backpack as one knife-wielding wannabee thug advances, yielding a crude yet sharp blade about 6 inches long and an inch and a half wide. He holds it to my belly as his buddies rummage through my pockets. I feel violated, as I am being felt up by three short, poor Mexican men while I have a knife I wouldn’t cut tofu with being held to my belly.

They get my cash, keys, id and cell phone.

Too bad for them my boss and I went to the most expensive restaurant in Mexico today and I paid my share in cash, leaving me with a whopping 20 pesos in my pants pocket.

My assailants have gotten away with the equivalent $1.80USD for their efforts. I wonder how they'll spend it?

Perhaps they can all buy themselves round trip subway fares (and still have three trips left over) so they can make the trip back here tomorrow to rob someone else. Perhaps even me. Because I am not going to stop walking. (But yes, I will be more careful!)

Too bad I never carry my ATM card or any credit cards for that matter. Too bad they forgot to take my backpack with my $500 60 gig Photo Ipod. They might have enjoyed the pictures of the Butterfly Reserve or perhaps those of my trip to Rio – the last time I came face to face with trouble.

They might really get into 30 gigs of house music. Now that I think about it, they would have been better off stealing my Hugo Boss shoes or even the $80 tie. (Yes, I will dress down!)

As all of this is happening, I am impressed that the people in the subway are actually catcalling and cursing my assailants aloud and hailing the police. “Pendejos!”

Scene of the Crime - Underneath that Big Circle

The robbers make off up the stairs with a $1.80, my ID card to the Torre Mayor and my beloved Sony Ericsson T616. I try to lead the police in a futile attempt at pursuit but I am the only one with any heart in it. They are content that, “they’ve gotten away”. Oh well, we won’t have to chase them or confront them. The relief was patently visible in their bodies.

I turn around, shrug it all off and start walking. An older working class man tries to help me. He opens his wallet, proffers a subway card. First, I thank him, “Gracias, muy amable” and then I tell him, “Pero, voy a caminar a mi casa“ or “But I am going to walk home”.

I get home but have no keys. My landlord’s not home (I live in a small house at the back of her big house). I can wait outside for who knows how long and I have no one to call because I don’t have my phone and I don’t have any phone numbers.

I decide to climb our 15 foot wall in my pointy tipped shoes and navy Burberry’s suit. I hop to the inside court yard and climb through a window in my house. I am home. I am safe. I am fine. And I still have my Ipod.