Saturday, 19 January 2013

So I Was Robbed Thursday Evening

I’d like to start by saying I’m very sorry for the long post. Of course, you don’t have to read all of it if you don’t want to.
I’m writing this partly because I wanted to do this post anyway and also to explain why I haven’t posted anything in the last couple of days.

So I went to my lecture as usual on Thursday, got out at five and started walking home. Keeping in mind that as it’s Winter, 5pm is very dark these days. On the way home I phoned my mum. I know, it’s just like one of those ads, be careful what you have showing, but I have done this every day after class since September 2011 and nothing as ever happened before. Of course, that never means that something won’t happen.

It got to the point where I pass the student accommodation building close to mine, a narrow bit of pavement with that place on one side and a couple of houses with low garden walls on the other. This is a fairly dark area, perfect for things like this you might say. Usually, I’m good at hearing other things going on while I’m talking on the phone, and the sound of running is definitely something I’d usually hear, but suddenly I found my phone ripped out of my hand (along with a handful of my hair)  and a guy running away with it, still on the call screen. Another guy ran after him who at first I thought had seen it and was trying to help because of the way he was shouting at the first guy, but am now convinced they were together.

I stood there for a second or two watching them disappear as my mind tried to process what just happened, and then ran the last few feet to my building. I couldn’t open the door of reception and assumed it was closed, though I’m now guessing I was just in too much shock to open it properly because a girl went in just a couple of minutes later. I was in a lot of shock over what just happened, as I’m sure many people would be, all my limbs were numb and I had some pretty bad chest pains. My mind was mostly messed up, but from the moment that it had happened my first instinct and the thing I was determined to do was borrow someone else’s phone and call the police. That’s why I’d tried to go into reception. Luckily, a couple of guys were standing outside and though I’m not usually comfortable asking strangers for favours, I had no problem asking if I could borrow one of theirs. They happily agreed, I doubt there are many people who would refuse someone in that situation. Despite being able to easily ask them though, I still felt uncomfortable borrowing someone’s phone, which led to stupid and obvious questions like ‘I should call the police right?’ and ‘it’s 999 right?’ which in hindsight is just embarrassing but at the time I didn’t give a fuck and considering what I’d just been through I highly doubt they were judging me. Then when after I explained to the person on the phone what happened I started having a panic attack and gave the phone to one of the others so they could give the address. I managed to get the panic attack under control pretty quickly.

After the phone call I gave the phone back and the girl that was with them took me into the reception where I asked if I could call my mum; I didn’t feel right asking to make another call on the guy’s phone, the police one was understandable, I’m sure the mum one would have been too but I didn’t want to ask. Of course, the reception guy was happy to let me. The last thing my mum had heard was me screaming and then nothing without any answer when she tried to call back. I know mums can sometimes get pretty scary thoughts in that kind of situation, I don’t know if mine did because I was too scared to ask. We talked for a few minutes and then I hung up so she could have my phone blocked. The guy at reception said he’d bring the police up to my flat when they arrived so I could get a drink and clean up. I thanked everyone for their help and left.

During this time I’d calmed down a lot as I’d started using my usual methods of dealing with a situation like this:
  1.        Find reasons this isn’t as bad as you originally thought.
  2.        Find a way to make the situation positive.
  3.        Figure out a plan to deal with things until the problem is resolved.

For the first, I was lucky for many reasons. I was lucky that the thief had only stolen from me instead of attacking me. I was also lucky he’d only got my phone considering this was the only time in my university history I’d had to take my laptop with me. I also have insurance on my phone which covers theft, so it could be replaced easily with no extra cost. Currently I’m waiting for the replacement, it’s due to arrive on Wednesday.

The situation was made positive because I found I was able to make many jokes on the situation which have made many people laugh so far. Also, I am a creative writing student, and any experience you could work into a story is good. At least I can write a convincing robbery scene from the victim’s point of view now. Another positive is that I don’t have that thief’s coat. Seriously, it was hideous. That was something that actually went through my mind for half a second while it was happening. It might just be a cheap one he picked up somewhere to dispose of after committing a crime in it, I hope that’s the case, then again thieves in general aren’t known to have great fashion sense.

There are problems to not having a phone for almost a week. For one thing I can’t talk to people or text now, but there is the internet for that. There’s the fact that it was my alarm clock, but I’ve been managing to wake up at reasonable times without it anyway, the main concern is waking up for my 10am class on Wednesday so I may have to buy an alarm clock. It was something I’d been considering doing anyway. Finally, it was my dinner timer. That’s been the hardest so far because I’ve been using my computer clock and that doesn’t have an alarm that goes off at the end. I’ve tried an online alarm but it didn’t really work for me.

When I got back to my flat I explained to the people I live with what happened and that there would be police coming over. I then made myself a coffee with six sugars, because sugar helps me in these situations, then went to my room to wash my face and drink. Like most people these days, my next move was to announce what had happened on Facebook.  I would have had to do this anyway. I had to tell people not to call or text me for a while because my phone was stolen, which would also explain why I wasn’t replying (I’d been texting a friend before the phone call). I also wanted to go on the FB page of my uni class to warn them, in case there were others in the area or that guy decided to target someone else, though I didn’t think that would happen.

The police arrived and I told them everything I could. I expected them to be very formal and only interested in getting the information but they were very friendly and talked to me about other things while one of them was writing the info down. I think maybe they were trying to cheer me up/keep me calm. When I described the guy’s coat they agreed that he had no fashion sense. They told me what I already knew, that in cases like this it’s rare that they catch the guy responsible. After everything was said I thanked them and they left. They also said if anything like this happens again I’m allowed to do anything I want in self-defence. This made me happy because someone had told me that in this country you aren’t allowed to do anything like that. One of the police later emailed me to say they’d checked the CCTV in the area. The theft could be seen but it wasn’t possible to get a still of the guy’s face. They’d also done a search of the area that had been unsuccessful.

Yeah, I wish I could have done something to the guy. It’s annoying because I’ve always been the person who says ‘I’ll do this…’ and so on if a situation like this were to happen. I’d like to think if it had been more of an attack or had happened slower that my instincts would have kicked in and I would have been able to do something. I’m not that strong yet but I’m good at making use of adrenaline and I’m sure it wouldn’t have been too hard to grab that guy’s hood and slam his head into the low garden wall I mentioned earlier. However, this happened very fast, the guy was a very fast (and silent) runner, so I couldn’t do anything. The worst part for me though was that I screamed like a bitch. The first scream was understandable, it wasn’t even out of having my phone taken I don’t think. It was just out of the pain of having hair torn out, which I’m sure anyone who’s experienced such a thing can agree hurts like hell. But then I had to go and scream ‘mum’. That was out of a weird side effect though. I don’t know if anyone else in this situation has also felt what I felt (I’m going to say this in second person anyway), but when you’re phone is taken away while talking to someone you love, it feels like that person is being taken away as well. For about a second anyway, long enough to scream over. The most annoying thing though was that I ended up having to miss anime society that night.

I was a bit out of it for the rest of the night. Mentally I’d calmed down a lot and was already over it for the most part. My body still felt some of the shock, my limbs were just numb. Then there was a weird sort of jumpy feeling that I wasn’t sure whether it was due to the robbery or the six sugars in my coffee. It was probably a bit of both.

I usually have trouble getting to sleep anyway and that night was no exception. I had to go to sleep with my computer still on because I didn’t want it to be too dark. I finally fell asleep around 1am. I dreamed I was being attacked in the same place my phone was stolen, the only time in a long time I’ve been on the losing end of a fight in one of my dreams. I woke up at 3:30 from the dream, I think, though the flat was loud. I’m not holding that against them though because this isn’t a common occurrence and they’re allowed to get back late and loud once in a while if they want. I fell asleep again easily anyway. I then dreamt that I woke up late, around 3pm. It kept happening where I’d wake up from the dream to check the time and it was that late and then that would turn out to be a dream as well. It happened three or four times before I woke up again. I was afraid of checking the time but it was only 4am. After I got back to sleep I finally woke up properly at 9am. A nice reasonable time considering I didn’t have an alarm and especially considering a horrible night’s sleep.

I didn’t do anything Friday aside from trying to sort out accommodation for the next university year. I decided to give myself the day off from any work and just relax. Currently I’m completely over the incident aside from a little lasting anger toward the thief and a number of small annoyances caused by not having a phone.

I’ve also been remembering things, like I’d seen the guys before what happened. When I was talking to my mum there was something I didn’t want to be over heard so I turned my head back slightly to see if there was anyone close behind me. There were two people so I’d been telling her I’d say it when I reached the gate when it happened. When I remembered it hit me that there’s a very good chance those two people were the ones responsible. It bothered me a little that I hadn’t recognised them as a threat when usually I’m always more careful when I see other people that close and I also wished for a moment I’d looked properly because I might have picked up on more details. I also considered for a moment that the men might have for some reason seen the look back as an insult and decided to punish me for it like that. I also considered, since I hadn’t seen their faces properly, that the person who’d stolen my phone might have been the charity guy who wouldn’t leave me alone on the street earlier because I didn’t have money and had eventually had to push them away and run the rest of the way to class. I thought they might have wanted revenge. I’m fairly certain that both of those ideas are completely insane. It was possible that this was some immature person who had just been walking behind me and spontaneously decided to do that for a laugh, though I got the impression he’d done this before. It was also possible that they were intending to rob someone and picked me at random. It’s also possible, and this one is a little more worrying, that they’d chosen me for this and had been following me specifically until we reached a dark enough area they could do this, though I know there was no one behind me for half of my journey back from uni (and it was a short walk).

Anyway, that’s pretty much it, the whole story. Congratulations if you actually got through the whole thing.

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