I got a text the other morning that a friend and coworker of mine, Cesar, was mugged. There are two types of muggings.
1. The one where you hand over all your belongings and no one gets hurt.
2. The horrific and traumatizing kind.
My friend had a Number Two, and it was the worst I have ever heard of.
Every Sunday morning Cesar likes to wake up early and walk over to the coffee shop to catch up on work. You know, doing what he is supposed to do as a functional and productive member of society. This is when he sees a car with four young men (who contribute crime and awfulness to society) do a u-turn, and he thinks nothing of it. Evidently they did a u-turn to rob him because moments later three men sneak up from behind and are all over Cesar. One shoves him into a fence, and the other two dig into all of his pockets, taking his phone, keys, credit card, and a bus card. Conceal and carrying a firearm would have done him no good with how fast these guys got into all available pockets, and then the likelihood of him getting shot would have went up - plus there would be another gun on the street.
Cesar yelled out "help" as loud as he could, and this is when two of the men punched him in the face, breaking his jaw. They asked for the code to unlock his phone, and he gave it to them. Between the three men, they could not remember it. The one guy still in the car yelled out that it was taking to long and to just "pop him." One of the men on foot then showed Cesar a gun. The guy in the car then leaned over to get something out of the glove box (likely another gun) but banged his head on something and was screaming, swearing, and bitching about how much it hurt. Between the head bumping and the guys not being able to memorize four simple numbers, it is likely these guys were strung out drug addicts. When the other three turned to check on their partner in the car, Cesar made a break for it. The three pursued him on foot, and the guy in the car zipped ahead of Cesar and pulled through an entrance to an alley to block the sidewalk in front of him. Much to the driver's surprise, Cesar leaped over the hood of the car like God damned "Night Rider!"
Walking in the opposite direction, completely oblivious to all the hollering, commotion, and crimes happening around due to being engrossed with his phone and ear buds playing loud music, was an Asian-American out for a stroll. Cesar was running towards this citizen and yelling to get his attention to no avail. So as he is running past he snatches the ear buds out of the man's ears and yells, "You're walking straight towards criminals, and they're trying to kill me!" Now Asian-American guy is turning and running in the same direction as Cesar, and the two of them ran into a local 7-11. They frantically asked the guy working there to lock the doors because the hooligans were close behind and headed towards the store, but the guy working there did not seem to believe them.
The bad guy driver actually pulled into the parking lot, but as it turns out the headlights made it impossible for the camera to see the driver, make out a license plate, or even tell the make of the car. The criminals must have known that they would be seen on cameras if they went into the 7-11, so they did not enter the store. It's a good thing the Asian-American fellow stayed for when the police came because the policeman had no idea how to track a stolen iPhone. I think the policeman should have known how to do that, but that is not the focus of this blog entry.
Cesar had to have a three hour surgery on his jaw with only local anesthetic, so he was awake for the entire uncomfortable three hours. He then had his jaw wired shut, and it will remain wired shut for six to eight weeks. The only things he can eat are liquids that can fit through his teeth. The doctor said he will likely lose around fifteen pounds, and Cesar is a thin guy to begin with. He is also traumatized, and any time it starts getting dark out, if he sees a black car, or if he sees a car do a u-turn, he begins to panic and relive the event.
Cesar's situation was one of those times where I felt so terrible for someone that I felt like I had to do something. The first thing I did was organize a Tuesday Juice Day where myself and two other coworkers switch off who is buying smoothies (one of the only things he can "eat") that morning and hang out with Cesar before work. The first Juice Day we got together is when he told us all the details about the robbery. I think it just helps him to talk to people about what has been going on with him. Two ladies who recently retired volunteered to drive him to all of his doctor appointments because Cesar does not have a car and they have the time. How nice of those ladies, right?
The second thing I am doing is on a more city-wide scale. Like me, Cesar is a jogger, and I have been coming up with a plan for a Joggers Neighborhood Watch (still looking into a clever name, so chime in with one if you have any good ones). I figure joggers could be out on patrol in those early morning hours where the criminals often strike, and we are often hyper alert when we are running. What I am envisioning is a Google Drive spreadsheet for each neighborhood where folks can fill out a calendar for what time of day they will be with a group of people on a jog (preferably groups of at least two, and even better if three or four). My hope is that as it gains popularity, folks will agree to choose that 4AM block of time if they log on late and it is one of the last slots, especially if we have an incentive program at the end of a week (like a pizza party with lots of beer) if we fill all the time slots. Joggers can check another box saying how many are in their group, what materials they have with them (whistle, pepper spray, phones, etc), and any suspicious activity they saw. My hope is that more presence out there can reduce crimes like the one that so badly impacted my friend.
If you have any other ideas I can add to this plan, please let me know in the comments. If you want to outright steal my idea, go right ahead. I'm not making any money on this, and you will be making the world safer, which is my goal anyway.
Be safe out there, friends. Don't look at your phone all the damn time when you're walking around. Be alert and aware of your surroundings. Your safety is more important than Facebook updates or Candy Crush. Ubers are everywhere, so take advantage of this and go door-to-door in a car when it is late at night or early in the morning. And if you have to walk alone late at night, do so with a friend.
Okay, blog buddies. Thanks for listening/reading. See you next time . . .