autumn began yesterday

I was mugged on Tuesday night. I was walking down 8th Street in Park Slope talking to Nick on the phone and someone suddenly grabbed me from behind and pulled me to my knees. “Don’t shout,” he said, “I want you to hand me your phone, and then slowly reach into your pocket and give me your wallet.” He had me in a headlock with my back to him, so all I ever saw of him was a muscular black arm around my neck. I handed him my wallet, and he asked how much money was in it, and I told him (about $30 or $40), and then he asked what else was in the wallet, and I told him (credit cards, etc.).  I remember thinking that these were strange questions, which they were – I wonder how he would have reacted if I’d only had two bucks.   Before letting me go, he told me not to move for thirty seconds.   He took his arm from around my neck and stood up.  “Don’t turn around – I don’t want to have to shoot you,” he said, straight into my ear.  “Okay,” I said quietly, staring at the sidewalk.  I heard him walk quickly, but not run, in the other direction, and then stop.  “Thirty seconds!” he yelled back at me.  I didn’t move for at least a minute.

You hear about this sort of thing happening in New York City all the time, but when it actually happens to you, it’s not nearly like you thought it would be. I was never really scared for my life –– I think it happened too quickly for that.  The strange thing was the assault –– this stranger just grabbing me and taking my shit.  It’s horrible and it’s bullshit, but it’s an experience I’ll not forget, for better or worse, and there’s something to be said for that.

The mugger didn’t take my keys, which seemed oddly considerate, considering he took everything else.

When I got home I woke Franny and told her what had happened, and she said she was just happy that I was okay, and that made me happy.  She convinced me to call the police, and in about ten minutes two NYPD squad cars pulled up to the front of our apartment, lights flashing (no sirens, though).  There were two policewomen in one car, and two policemen in the other.  Not surprisingly, one of the policemen was kind of a prick, but the women were both nice. We drove back to the scene of the crime and walked around with flashlights for a while looking for what I assumed were clues –– it all seemed very futile, and looking back I realize that part of being a cop is playing the part of a cop, and getting paid to do so.  After about fifteen minutes, the policewomen drove me back home and I awkwardly filled out a report in the back of their squad car.  Sitting in the back of a police car made me feel like I had done something wrong, which was weird.

About an hour after mugging me, the mugger bought almost $50 worth of gas, with my debit card, at a gas station in Crown Heights.  About fifteen minutes later he turned my iPhone on from another intersection in Crown Heights, and then turned it off again about eight minutes later.


I’m pretending that autumn began yesterday –– I’d rather be mugged at the end of one season than the beginning of another.  It was an eventful summer, and this year is turning out to be a year.