I was sitting on a hard wooden bench waiting to testify in front of a grand jury at the New York City courthouse. An older man, probably in his 50s, came up to me. He had a large bruise covering a considerable part of his face and a big white bandage just above his left eye.
“Are you the woman who chased the guy?” He asked me.
“Yeah,” I replied, some what sheepishly, “That was me.”
“Thank you,” said the man, “Without you, he would have gotten away.”
That’s when I learned the person who had stolen my phone, the one who I had chased down the street, taunting when he slowed down, had targeted two people before me. Each of those two people had been physically assaulted, punched in the face by the man I’d screamed “FUCK YOU” at countless times. They’d been hospitalized, bruised, had gravel from the city streets removed from gaping wounds on their faces. I’d come face to face with their attacker and walked away with out a scratch.
This revelation left me stunned all over again, just like the feeling of standing on the street immediately after getting my phone back from the shit head who robbed me.
How had this happened to me and how was I SO. Insanely. LUCKY?????
I felt luckier than the 11 people who win the Hamilton Lottery every day.
Luckier than my roommate’s friend’s boyfriend’s co-worker who won an Affordable Housing lottery and lives in a beautiful one bedroom in Williamsburg for $800/month.
Luckier than that blogger who had the right agent stumble across her blog and now she has a book deal.
I also felt extremely conflicted. On one hand, I felt like an absolutely idiot for chasing after a criminal. Like I said before, I did everything you’re not supposed to do! And for good reason! The guy I’d chased was a violent, dangerous person! On the other hand, this guy with a bandage was thanking me; the lead detective on the case was giving me accolades, saying I was an inspiration to him.
They never would have caught him without me.
And without the kindness of strangers on the New York City street. A kind stranger called the police. More kind strangers pointed the thief out to school security guards saying “He just stole a woman’s phone!” The thief had run onto a block dominated Fashion Institute of Technology buildings. When I got to where he was he was circled by no fewer than 20 uniformed FIT security guards.
Strangers waited with me for the police to come. They told me they were glad I was safe, glad I’d gotten my phone back, glad we’d caught the guy. Only moments after feeling so violated on the exact same street, now I felt so supported. Everyone was so kind to me.
When shit gets real, New Yorkers are there for each other. It was all the bad and all the good of New York in a span of about 15 minutes and 1 New York City block.
That’s the end of the story of the time I got robbed (but not assaulted!) on the New York City streets.