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.

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