Let me start this post off by saying this: I have never been mugged.
This is an important assertion to get out of the way, because when people have been through a harrowing experience they tend to look at the world through the filter of what they’ve seen and felt firsthand, which can both be an asset –i.e. they know what they are talking about more than an armchair theorist– and a bias –i.e. they tend to whine incessantly about their experience and tend to think that everything that happens happens their way.
This is the reason why people who are mothers are annoying and like talking about their kids and poop and how their vaginas and/or abdominal walls stretched out a long time ago and sometimes will.not.quit. Being a mother, I just had to get that in there, you see. I also like to make people squirm.
Back to mugging: people love to say that crime is in an upswing, especially in my neighborhood of Capitol Hill. They loooove it. They luff it. They luuuuurrrrrve it. But the truth of the matter lies somewhere in between, doesn’t it?
There are several truths at play here. I’ve tried to come up with a few to sum up what happens here, locally. Feel free to add or outright disagree:
1. If you live in an area with a high concentration of people and where the disparity between the wealthy citizenry and the near-indigent ones is really out of control, you will have social tension that could end in crime. Mugging– an assault with intent to rob– is among the easier and quicker crimes to pull off, since all you have to do in many cases is yank on a purse and run.
2. There will always be people who make bad choices. This one is a pretty open field, covering anything from the people who chose to be criminals for fun or profit to those who let their guard down enough to enter such a situation, if applicable.
3. There will always be bored teenagers who turn to violence, regardless of race, such as the ones who beat up a neighbor with a pipe and left him with a broken jaw, apparently just for thrills (they didn’t take anything from him).
4. There will always be freak incidents that happen at unpredictable times of day, which is why you should always have clean underwear on and emergency contact information with you when you go out.
5. There will always be at least one Chicken Little in your neighborhood listserv to let everyone in the neighborhood know that the neighborhood is falling apart, and a host of like-minded individuals to round out the chorus.
So, with the above points in mind, I am here to tell you the following:
If you get mugged at 3 a.m., I don’t think you have a right to complain.
Yes, there will always be the sob stories –both real and embellished– of how people just *needed* to get the non-dairy coffee creamer at 2:30 a.m. for their sick aunt whose preference is to have coffee at that hour, bless her octogenarian soul.
But chances are, most people who get mugged in the wee hours of the morning were having a bit too much fun and didn’t plan to find themselves alone and mildly-to-very intoxicated in a dark alley, giggling and stumbling around for home as a person who’s turned to crime
waited for the golden opportunity. And if you look at the police blotter (either in the newspaper or through the first district listserv) you will see that most of these exchanges of property happen between midnight and dawn. Most of these cases could have been prevented; most don’t end up in a full mugging; and most people in a neighborhood like mine will probably never experience the true violence, crime and despair that surrounds other parts of the city where violence and shootings and murder are part of the daily vocabulary. In fact, one could say that the fact that these muggings and attempted muggings get so much more press and attention is an insult to the citizens whose daily violence goes virtually unnoticed, let alone unpunished.
You can do something to prevent parting with your wallet by force, you know. First and foremost, look around. If someone is making a beeline straight for your property, make eye contact. Take a stand. Scream if you need to.
If you are going to party late, stay in a group and stay in well-transited areas. Make sure that you watch your friends’ backs and try to program the emergency 9 key in your cell phone (beats me).
And remember– you live in a city where there are loads of people! Do what that kid who was going to be abducted did and start running and making noise and ringing doorbells until you get someone to help you if it comes to that: chances are that there are some boring citizens who went to bed at 10 pm and who whine and blog about people staying up way too late (without me *sniff*) and who would be happy to let you in and out of danger.
I have homemade cookies, you know.
You can read more of my soapboxing at A Daily Dose of Zen Sarcasm!