As I sit here on the train writing this, I still can’t believe what I saw. It was still early; the sun wasn’t even up yet. I witnessed what appeared to be an attempted carjacking on my way to the train to work. A vehicle was stopped at a light (at the intersection of Mid County Highway and Shady Grove Road) when another vehicle pulled up beside it. Two gentlemen quickly jumped out the back seat of the second vehicle (it caught my attention because of the speed with which they exited their vehicle – I initially thought something may have been wrong). One of the two dudes attempted to yank open the car’s driver-side front door, banging on the window screaming expletives in between telling the driver to open the door and get out. The other guy was banging on the passenger window yelling similar things. I feared for the driver. He or she finally had the presence of mind to speed away. The two dudes began looking around, no doubt looking for someone else, and of course, I sped away quickly as well. It was a scary situation, even though I never personally felt threatened. I didn’t allow the situation to rise to that level for me. But I reflect on what could have happened to me or to that other driver.
This just goes to show you how paying attention and being aware of your surroundings can go a long way to preparing you to deal with potential danger. I could have used that advice myself many years ago when I was the victim of an armed robbery. Most of you reading this don’t know about this. I seldom talk about it because I felt so dumb and stupid for putting myself in that situation. I was embarrassed about it and never shared this before. Yeah, I know. It’s typical victim mentality. You’re reading it here first (like they say on the news. lol).
Looking back around 2002, I stopped at an ATM off Hamilton Street, NE in DC to snag some cash. It was at a bank – I don’t recall which one – and I’d say it was about 9:30 PM. It was very dark, not a heavily trafficked area, and the only street light wasn’t working. There was a tiny lamp attached to the ATM, but its illumination wasn’t very bright. The ATM was about 100 feet from the street where I parked. I jumped out, trotted to the machine, took out about 80 bucks, folded it in half, and shoved it into my pocket. I was oblivious to anything and everything around me.
When I turned around and took one step back to my car, some big, mean looking dude stuck out his hand and said, “Hand it over.” I initially was going to be a wise guy and challenge him, but he must have sensed that because he warned me not to be cute as he lifted up his shirt to display the tip of a pistol stuck in his pants. I was headed to a party and was looking kind of hot and fly, even if I do say so myself. I probably looked like I had more money than I actually had. I decided not to be a hero and reached in my pocket and pulled out some money. Just as an aside, I have gotten good at pulling from my pocket only a tranche of bills from a larger bunch. That’s a skill that can come in handy when you don’t want to pull out everything all at once when you’re around money grubbing leeches. I handed him $40 and he ran off even faster than he did when he ran up on me. Needless to say, I was terrified.
I knew better. It was at night, no street light, not much vehicular or foot traffic, and isolated. These are all of the makings for the perfect armed robbery. The thing that angered me most is this ATM was half a short block from a supermarket with an ATM inside. I could have minimized the likelihood of a theft by getting my cash from there. I should have known better. I learned my lesson though, and I try to always pay attention to where I am and who is around me. I don’t live in fear but I do think prevention can make a big difference.
I’m glad today went well and nothing bad happened to me or to that other driver. But, I suspect those hooligans probably made a score on someone this morning, taking something that someone else worked hard for. Let this be a warning to you to always be aware of your surroundings. Even before dawn, bad guys are out looking for trouble.