Sunday, October 4, 2009

Hell called, they're expanding their guest list

My brother called on Friday after speaking to me not more than 20 minutes prior.

"Yeah?" I answered, thinking he'd forgotten to tell me some detail about his many adventures in love we analyze on a regular basis.

"Are you online? Sophia just sent an email," he blurted out breathlessly. (Ed. Note: My sister is an email queen, so getting an email from her does not usually necessitate a special call.)

"Um, no," I replied, somewhat annoyed. I was, after all, right in the middle of my DVR-ed episode of Grey's Anatomy.

"Go check it. She just emailed us. Papa got mugged down in Santiago and he got hurt. I'm on my way home right now, she says she'll be on Skype," he said, before hanging up.

First thought that came to mind: Shit.

So I dashed over to my laptop, read the email and sat there in utter shock. What else could I do? My dad is not "old" by any measure (he'll be 60 in a few months) ... but he's ol-der. And the thought of someone taking advantage of a situation to steal a few dollars from an old man pisses me off to no end. I chatted with Sophia via Skype and learned that she was with my dad when it happened.

According to her:
"We went to the store to buy groceries for the long bus ride and were walking back to the hotel in the middle of the day. Everyone was around. A guy reached into his pocket and took a wad of money, Papa turned around, yelled and started running after him. At this point three guys blocked his way, tripped him and pushed him into the ground. I was so confused because then they started helping us with our groceries. He got up and had blood running down his face. We started walking, and you know him, he was so embarrassed already not being able to catch the guy. That's when I saw that his pinky had been dislocated and pushed the wrong way, so he popped it back into position. It looked like he'd gone into shock, and he thought he'd broken his nose. I knew he'd need stitches because the gash was so deep in his forehead and I knew he'd broken his finger so I made him go to the hospital. He'd fallen flat on his face; his hands didn't break his fall because the guys that pushed him down were also holding his arms and hands back. He was so helpless. "
Not the type of "wish you were here" sentiment I was expecting from my parents' adventure abroad. After I talked to my sis, my dad then got on Skype a short while later. He told us it wasn't a big deal and true-to-form tried to downplay it all, but I saw his bandaged hand and the stitches on his forehead, and it broke my heart. This was my dad, whom I'd grown up viewing as the protector in our family. He always has been. And I know that no one could have prevented this and he couldn't have stopped it (even if he was 30 and not 60), but it killed me to see him be embarrassed about it, helpless.

I think he chalks it up to gray hair and old age, but I told him that he simply doesn't blend in and that's probably why it happened to him in a giant crowd of people. Luckily, I also pointed out, they didn't pull out a gun or knife on him and that at least he was safe. "I wish I could have caught them, though," he said. "No, you don't," I replied.

I reminded him that I've had handfuls of friends mugged right here in DC either at knife- or gun-point, and it didn't always end so pretty (one person, while being mugged, watched her mugger shoot a guy in the head right in front of her). It's a dangerous world, and no place is really "safe" anymore. My dad's attack, along with the countless other attacks I've heard happen to friends in the last couple years here, reaffirms that fact.

So the thieves ended up stealing $800 in cash from my dad who was carrying it because there were no ATMs where they planned to be. Though there is a special place in hell for people like this, I can't help but feel sorry for them too. Poverty drives people to great lengths, and I can only imagine what kind of daily lives they lead when we take for granted how we have flushable toilets and abundant food. So, $800 sucks to lose, but he'll survive. There's really no price tag for that.

Bottom line: Go invest in some pepper spray, kiddies. I have a pink cartridge I keep on my keychain, which I often hold on to in my jacket pocket if I feel a certain street is sketchy (I know, so Kill Bill, all I need now is a Hattori Hanzo sword). It (the pepper spray, not the sword) only costs about $10 and is better than nothing ... unless, of course, your attacker has a gun. At that point I -- like a mutual friend recently did when faced with the gun scenario -- would start running. Nine times out of 10 they don't actually want to shoot you, they just want to rob you ... unless they're batshit crazy. But that's a whole other story.

12 comments:

me in millions said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your dad. Thank goodness he is okay.

Nicole said...

Oh my goodness! I'm so sorry to hear that happened to your dad! After reading this, I think I will go out and buy some pepper spray. I'll be walking around after dark soon, and I need to protect myself. I'm glad your dad didn't get hurt any more seriously than he did. Better to be bruised and cut than not here at all.

Chelsa Bea said...

I'm so sorry that something like this happened to them your family. I'm so glad that they're all okay.

My grandpa had a knife pulled on him when he was in DC in the 70s. The guy demanded he give him his wallet and my grandpa just turned around and ran into traffic in the street. The guy didn't chase after him and my grandpa ended up getting away and was fine.

I guess I never think about these kinds of things happening , but you're right, they're still very present in our society. Your advice about protecting ourselves is right on.

Tamela said...

OMG. I am so glad your dad is okay, minutes a few bumps and stitches. I am so glad they didn't pull a knife or a gun on him. I would have been freaking out also if that had happened to my dad.

Mandy's Life After 30 said...

Oh gosh, Crystal! That's awful! I'm so glad that he's mostly okay and has his ego more bruised than his body. I hate that it happened to him and near the end of his trip too.

My father in law felt someone was following him in France a few years back when he was traveling. He did some things like change his path, look the guy in the eye, etc. and the guy never touched him. When we've traveled abroad, we wore those money clips that fit inside your clothes and around your neck. That way no one can see it. There is no guarantee but at least you don't worry about your pockets.

Hugs to you and your dad! I hope they are going home soon!

Crystal said...

Thank you all for your words of support!

R. Wallis @ TrueBeauty said...

Oh my! Your poor daddy....I would be so upset too! Ugh, I hope those people really needed that money to feed their starving kids....that being said, it still doesn't make it right.

Carolyn said...

Oh Crystal :( That's awful. You know, my parents work in a really dangerous neighborhood and deal with awful people on a daily basis. Everytime I hear of an "altercation," it kills me. My parents have had guns pulled on them and my Mom got hit once. So hard when it's your parents. So, SO hard.

Amber said...

Glad to hear your dad and sister are ok, what a scary ordeal!

Amanda said...

That is an awful story! I'm glad to hear he is going to be ok though.

Also, WHERE in DC can you buy pepper spray? I can't find it anywhere!

Amanda said...

I've seriously been looking for it everywhere and can't find it. Sorry for 2 comments I accidentally clicked "publish" before I was done, haha.

Crystal said...

Amanda -- I bought my pepper spray in California, but I'm sure if you can't find any in the District it would be easy to find in Virginia. If not then order on Amazon! :)

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