Sometimes, I feel like we live in the saddest possible version of the world. There are far too many people dying of curable diseases and circumstances. Money rules too many lives. Illiteracy is more rule than anyone would like to admit. Too many people don’t know how to settle differences without the use of harsh words and/or weapons. There is too much talking, and not enough listening. There is too much focus on the problems, and not enough on the solutions.
Yesterday was a sad day in The Bahamas. Another sad day, I should say. The crime rate is ridiculous. The murder count for this small nation of less than 400,000 people is over 100. The most recent murder victim was an 11 year old boy. He’d been reported missing a few days ago. His mother and sister have been on the news and in the newspapers, begging for his safe return. He’d left his home some time between 4pm and 6pm (don’t ask me why a 2 hour time period is used to say when a child left his home) to go to the gas station (a little further than “right across the street”) to get candy. He never returned. His body was found yesterday morning. It was evident that he’d been raped/molested and killed.
You should see the posts on the brief news update, tweets, and posts on community forums. They are just as sad as this horrible crime. People are blaming the government. People are saying the police are not doing their jobs. The parents are being blamed. It’s ridiculous.
A comment on the news update struck something within me. It’s a quote from the Chief Justice of The Bahamas in 2007.
“Moral codes survive only if they are constantly taught and practiced. Rules are kept by convention, habit and self-interest, and to a large extent, because other people keep them. Self-interest works for the common good. Operating a code of behavior is like a pyramid sales operation. As long as it continues, its working guarantees its future. Once a significant number of people starts to breach the code with any frequency, self-interest becomes self-centeredness and the whole system falters. People behave badly; other people then behave badly because they have lost trust. They do not have the confidence to follow what their consciences often prompts them to do. Disorder becomes its own recruiting sergeant.”
As for the reasons that things like this happen, there are many, but I believe that the quote above is too true for many people to admit to, or acknowledge. I don’t know what else to say.
But not my life. Or will to live. Or sanity. Or self-respect. None of me. I’ll let them have none of me. The violation was enough.
I was robbed. Last night. It was so fast. And crazy. And quite the shock. I reacted so quickly. Yet slowly. I couldn’t tell how time was moving. It seemed pretty fast. Those guys weren’t that fast. I could have chased them down. I didn’t. I didn’t care that much. I was appreciative of the fact that I was still breathing. Able to walk. Unharmed. Not stabbed. Or shot. Or raped. Alive. And well. Just less one little thing. One of my favourite things, but a THING. So it’s no big deal.
It’s so weird the way things happen. Something out of the ordinary has to happen before we can really appreciate the way that life unfolds. A sequence of events. Each one dependent, in some way, on the one before it. Choices. Decisions. The roads we take. The ways we turn. The speed with which we move.
This is what I mean:
- I spent the weekend at Babe’s. The plan was to get a drive back to my place on Monday night. I had a lot of things to transport back to my apartment. My ride fell through. Ended up staying over at Babe’s. Which was fine.
- On Tuesday morning, I rode to work on Babe’s bike, Kiwi. Tatum (my bike) was, and still is, at my place. Got to work and realized that I left my keys at Babe’s. Decided to ride back there after to work to get the keys, then head back to my place.
- Got to Babe’s around 5:45 on Tuesday evening. Cooled off. Drank some water. Called my sister to see if she was still at work and could pick me up, but got no answer. (Later, she told me she was at my grandmother’s and left the phone in the car.) Played word games. We had cereal. At about 7:30, we decided it was a good time to leave. The sun sets shortly after 8pm, and it would take me about 30 minutes to get to my place.
- Walked up the hill (Babe lives at the bottom of one), then rode about 15 seconds before I realized I didn’t have my cellphone. I should mention that a lady said, “Good evening,” and when I responded, she said, “Nice bike!” I thanked her. That made me smile. Anyway, I rode down the hill back to Babe. Got the phone, and walked the bike back up the hill. The same lady said, “Oh. Looks like fun!” It was hilarious. I said, “No, I just forgot something.” She clearly thought I was walking up and coasting down the hill repeatedly for fun. I shared this with Babe later, and we both had a good laugh.
- Where I work is the halfway mark between Babe’s place and my place. I got a bit beyond there when I realized something was wrong with the bike. Something must have come loose. The handlebar was no longer lined up with the front wheel. No matter how I steered, the wheel was going it’s own way. I stopped. I couldn’t fix it without tools. I got my cellphone out of my backpack and called Babe to explain the situation.
- We decided it made sense for me to walk the bike to my grandmother’s (about 5 minutes driving distance from my work). Now, this isn’t the best area to be on. Particularly as a young woman, walking alone, wheeling a bicycle along. *sighs* I didn’t really have a choice. I didn’t know anyone in the area with a truck or SUV that could carry the bicycle. It was faster to just walk. I talked with Babe as I walked.
- Just as I was wrapping up the conversation with her, I heard two very loud thuds/footsteps (the last steps of the two guys that ran up behind me, and felt impact on my right ear. One of the guys was snatching the phone out of my hand. [I have to say, I HATE that people do this to people they know as a joke. This has happened to me several times, and I have given black eyes and sucker punches to friends. After making a few "mistakes" like that, I've made great effort to freeze and just wait for the person to identify him/herself since it's more likely (SADLY) for a known person to do it that an attacker.] After being hailed about 3 times that evening, I just froze and waited, but no one’s hand covered my eyes, and no voice said, “Guess who?” in 5 seconds, so I suddenly expected a hand around my throat. I turned, saw the guys, realized what was happening, and I screeeamed. Twice. They ran off. I stood in shock for about 5 seconds. Then decided to get moving. I was literally 5 steps away from the corner, and diagonally across the street was a laundromat. I was heading there to use a phone to tell Babe that I was alive. I figured my scream was heard.
- Holy coincidence/luck/divine intervention. At the corner, about to turn, was a family friend. Jimmy. Good ol’ Jimmy! He said, “Hi,” and stuff. All I managed to say was, “Jimmy, can you do me a favour? Take me to my Grammy?” He said he could, he just needed to make a stop to pick someone up. As he loaded Kiwi onto the truck, I told him what happened, ever-so-briefly, RIGHT before he got there. He was PISSED. He hopped in that truck and was ready to go on a manhunt. I wasn’t quite so enthusiastic. I wanted to leave it alone. He picked up two people, and we rode around the general area, looking for the guys. Finally, I convinced him to give it up. A cellphone really isn’t worth getting killed over.
- The moment I caught my breath, after getting into the truck, I asked Jimmy to use his phone. I called Babe. I felt terrible. Babe sounded so distraught. Already, a friend was there to help look for me. I said I was okay, and would head back there instead of going to Gram’s and alarming people. Jimmy took me there, took the bike down, and gave me his card. Sidenote: He has a trucking service, so I guess that’s a good backup for moving in two weeks!
- I got to Babe’s place around 8:45pm. We spent the rest of the night debriefing, talking it out, cuddling, consoling each other, etc. It was rough. It was a small thing, but a big thing. For Babe, to feel so helpless and out of control. For me, to be so completely unsafe in this crime-ridden country, and to know that I gave such a scare. I felt guilty. I still do, kinda. One thing Babe said that’s stuck in my head is, “We can’t be reckless any more.” Bike riding, walking… Doing whatever because we think it’s okay. I don’t want to live in fear, but we can’t live stupidly either. *sighs*
- I think it was a good thing that I was on the cellphone. Babe knew right away that something was wrong. If something worse happened, SOMEone in the world would have some sort of idea of what happened and where I was. And it was easy for them to grab. That way, there was no need to engage me. I was wearing a BACKPACK. Imagine me trying to get that off in a panic. Imagine them, in their hurry, getting annoyed at me taking forever to get my backpack off. And YES, they WOULD have engaged me. A woman was walking in the same area earlier that day, and got her handbag snatched. Apparently, it was on the 7pm news (which I did not watch).
Back to the sequence of events… This probably would not have happened IF:
- My cousin was able to give me (and all my ish) a ride to my place on Monday night, provided that I had the bag with the keys with me.
- My brother didn’t have a crazy car that I feel bad about asking him to use to rescue me.
- I didn’t forget my keys.
- My sister was still at work or in the car and answered my call, and gave me a ride.
- I got my keys and left right away.
- I didn’t forget my cellphone.
- I didn’t turn back for my cellphone.
- The bike didn’t go out of whack.
- I stayed my bum at Babe’s place.
But this is the way it worked out. And it’s okay.
The take away:
- I have life, and nothing is more precious.
- It’s important to be very vigilant.
- The jury is still out on whether or not one should talk on a cellphone when walking alone in the semi-dark.
- DISCRETION is important. Maybe I shouldn’t have left Babe’s.
- Pay attention to the signs that are everywhere. I forgot my keys at Babe’s, I couldn’t reach anyone to give me a ride, I forgot my cellphone… The universe or God or whatever/whoever was clearly trying to convey a message. I probably should have stayed at Babe’s.
- Remember that it’s all “small stuff.” My cellphone is gone. It’s a BlackBerry and I really liked it. It sucks. More than that, I had pictures, video, notes, etc. saved in the phone. That sucks more. BUT. It doesn’t suck more than physical harm.
- We never know what situation our current situation is preventing. Who’s to say that those guys didn’t save me from something worse? Maybe there were worse people further down the road that would have done something worse. Maybe I wasn’t supposed to make it to my house for some reason. Maybe it wasn’t a good night to get my mom to drive me home when she was already home (at Grams’ house). I don’t know what that occurrence saved me from, but I am thankful. Regardless.
- There are little angels everywhere. Even in the most unlikely places. In the most unlikely people. And there are no coincidences. We are all in specific places at specific times for specific (divine) purposes. Whether we realize it or not.
I can’t say that I slept easily. I can’t say that I didn’t a lot of sounds in the street and near the window. I can’t say that I didn’t see the scene play when I closed my eyes. I can’t say that I would have ever gotten to sleep if I wasn’t with Babe. I can’t say that I would have been able to make my own cup of tea. I can’t say that I didn’t feel some of the same things I felt when an ex semi-stalked, approached, and assaulted me in a dark parking lot when I was in university. I can’t say that I was particularly excited about life this morning. But I can say that I am alive and well. I’m still dealing with what happened in some way, but all-in-all, I’m a-okay.
Edit: I just realized that I was only wearing one earring.
My brother bought me the pair of earrings I was wearing. Now I just have one. I’m really sad. Devastated, really. I don’t know why, but I’m super sentimental about things like that. I’m more upset about the missing earring than anything else. Crazy, maybe. *shrugs* I’m going to ask my sister to take me to where it happened to see if it fell out there. And hasn’t been rolled over. Cross your fingers for me, please!