So on Sunday afternoon around 3pm, I got robbed by this boy on a bicycle. It felt so unreal… one second I am waiting for a bus and occupying myself by reading something on my phone while listening to a podcast, and the next second somebody just grabs the phone and rides off. Just like that. By the bus stop. With CCTV. In broad daylight.
Against my better judgement, I morph into agbero Naija girl and start chasing the bicycle boy, screaming “my phoooone!!!” in shock, horror, despair, etc. As I am running after him and screaming all I can think of is ‘my precious phone… my bank details… just updated things on it… a gift from Big Sis… expensive… uninsured… how can this happen?!...just like that?!... just like that?!!!... no warning?… noooo!!!”
Bicycle boy is stunned that I am running after him and almost catching up with him, he panics and throws my earphones at me, then he jumps off bicycle and runs with it to try and gain speed. This encourages me. A part of me thinks I can still redeem my precious phone from this weak dummy… but alas, it is not to be. I’ve never been a good runner (in heels no less), so I tired easily. He must have noticed this, because he jumped back on the bicycle and rode off. I kept screaming, hoping the people further down the street would knock him off the bicycle at least. No such luck. UK tings.
So yeah, that's how I got mugged this past sunny Sunday. I’m still sad but a lot of people say I am taking it well. Do I have a choice? Well, I’d rather not dwell on it and get migraines as I replay the incident over and over (and over and over) and ask myself why I didn’t do things differently. I’m not going to let myself go there.
The irony of it all sef…. the night before, I lay awake having buyer’s remorse over an item that I felt I was being too extravagant on, so I decided to return it, hence my trip to this part of town where I lost my phone (a phone that was 4 times the price of the said item). The policewoman who later took my details said, “this is not your day, is it?” after I explained to her that I was standing by this bus stop because I had gotten on the wrong bus before being directed to this other one.
I am grateful however, for some specific reasons:
- I’ve been feeling rather invincible of recent. My Mum always cautions me on two things- keeping my phone safe, and not keeping late nights but I figured that she was being over-protective you know. I can’t be robbed or assaulted when I’m coming back from Uni at 9pm nau! Haba! I’ve had an instance where I think I was being followed by this guy one night but a car approaching deterred him. Did that stop me from closing from school late and walking home alone? You guessed it: no. So as cliché as it sounds, I’m going to say it: it could have been much worse. I keep thinking that had this not happened, I would have been assaulted in the near future, which is infinitely worse! Maybe this is a coping mechanism to deal with loss, but maybe not. At any rate I remain grateful.
- I have a confession: I am not a very empathetic person even though people tend to assume that I am. Unless I have been in a similar situation and can recall the emotions that I went through, I would always think at the back of my mind, ‘but you know you could have avoided it by doing so and so…’ while listening to you sob #sadbuttrue, shameface. For eg. someone terrified of a rotten tooth extraction would always get my sympathy, because even though I know that he/she could have practiced better oral hygiene, I can relate with the fear because I’ve been through it. I find it hard to sympathise when I cannot relate though, which is not good enough. While I was feeling dazed as I walked back to the bus stop after the mugging, some elderly ladies came to meet me and hugged me. I appreciated that. An elderly man offered his home for me to come into as I waited for the police to arrive. I appreciated that. I told him I couldn't do that because I had already given the police people details of my current position and he said no problem, he would wait for the police with me. I appreciated that. The policewoman who took my details asked me what I was doing before I got robbed. I told her I was using my phone. She kinda sighed. Had I insured it at all? I said no. I felt her silent judgement before she softly replied, “for such a phone… you know, there are so many ways to be insured; house, mobile…” I knew this too, but did not really appreciate that. She offered to take me wherever I wanted to go and tried to make me feel better about it. I appreciated that. If compassion and empathy do not come naturally to you, then just try to remember that it is very likely that victims of crime/assault/misfortune are already beating themselves up for being so stupid/naïve/clueless, and even if they don’t tell you, they may feel your judgement. They are at their most vulnerable, so just ditch the ‘told you so’s and 'it coulda been different if's and focus on trying to get them to some semblance of normalcy because what has happened has happened, shikenan/dazall.
- Sometimes you think you know how you’d react to something but you could be totally wrong. I never imagined that I would chase a thief lol. I thought I would scream and maybe faint. After all, it is ridiculous to chase a mugger who could be armed. You would think that all the years I’ve heard “don’t put up a fight/let the item go/your life is more precious” would add up to something…
- And of course: keep your phone safely hidden at all times when in public. ‘Agbero’ theft happens in the UK too hehehe.