Sunday, October 4, 2009

Always Be Aware of Your Surroundings..........

Always be aware of your surroundings......this is something that Jamie has ingrained in my brain since the day we met.  He says that no matter what neighborhood you live in or where you are, you are subject for a "jacking" at any moment if you don't pay attention to what is around you.  This thought process comes from years of experience and growing up in the "hood" (as he says). He and I grew up in totally different types of neighborhoods which gave us very different perspectives on what goes on around us.  I "loosely" paid attention to his advice, and then one day, low and behold, I was the one who got "jacked."  I was grocery shopping on a Sunday afternoon in our old neighborhood.  As I was coming out of the grocery store I did look around, but as usual didn't pay a ton of attention to what was going on around me.  I was standing at the back of my car loading my groceries and all of the sudden a young black man was standing next to me.  He was so close that I figured he must know me to be acting soooo familiar.  I looked at him to see if I recognized him as one of Jamie's friends.  He looked really young so I thought maybe he was one of my nephew's friends.  I just kept thinking, he must know me because he is so close to me that our hips are touching.  Never, ever did it cross my mind that something really bad was about to go down.  Clearly, I trust too easily.  Mind you, this is all happening in a matter of minutes. Finally when I realized I didn't know who he was, I looked at the young "man" and said, "Can I help you?" He then lifted his jacket and pulled out a gun and said, "See this, don't move, and don't say a word, where is your purse?"  I just stood there in shock thinking this can't be happening!  I thought for a second and then said, "It's in the front seat."  It wasn't, but I just needed him to get away from me, so I could have a minute to breathe.  He then said again, "Don't move and don't say a word, while his eyes were "bulging" out of his head."  He was not playing!  All the while people are coming and going having know idea what was happening right in front of their eyes.  When he didn't find the purse in the front seat he started getting very upset.  He said, "Where is it, where is it?!"   I could see he was losing it, and realized I just needed to give it to him or he might shoot me.  I told him it was right by me and he grabbed it and said, "Don't you say anything!"  Then off he ran to a waiting car.  I just stood their for a second and then just started to cry and yelled, "Someone call 911!"  A car pulled up to me that had seen the guy running and asked if I had just been robbed.  I said, "Yes! Call the police!" I think the thought of a gun being involved and what could have happened just shook me to my core because I was just in shock.  The police arrived and amazingly enough it was the SAME cop that told me at the infamous "Toys "R" Us arrest" that "I would be on the ground with my husband if I didn't shut up."  Really?  What are the odds that of all the cops he would be the one to show up to "my robbery!?"  So he took my statement, as I stood there shaking, and then I said, "Do you remember me?" Of course he didn't, so I quickly refreshed his memory. He said, "We were just doing our job that day."  Yeah, whatever.  I was too upset at what just happened to also re-live that terrible day.  After that I went home and when I walked in the door I just started to cry.  Jamie said, "What's wrong!?" I told him what happened and he was soooo MAD he was ready to go find the guy and "kill" him.  Okay not literally, but let's just say it would not have been pretty if he had found him. Needless to say the guy was long gone.  After that, for an entire year I was too freaked out to go to the grocery store.  It was the weirdest thing.  But the worst thing that came out of this was I kept thinking I was going to run into him again, or that he would come back and rob me again because he had all my information about where I lived.  I would see a young black man that resembled him and literally start to shake.  How awful is that?  Afraid of young black men and I am married to a black man!  It was a horrible feeling.  These are the things that create the hateful stereotypes that I am so against, and this time I was the one living it!  I felt guilty because of the fear and I felt anger because of what he "created" in my life.  Over time I got over it and realized that my purse was probably in a dumpster somewhere and I was the last person on this young "man's" mind.  I am sure karma has caught up with him and I hope with all my heart that he has changed, but I can guarantee he has no idea that what he did that day changed my life forever. One thing is for certain, you can be sure that I am now very aware of my surroundings even in my "safe" little neighborhood.


"J" said...

On the "scared of black youth" - bit ,Remember the following: When I was a teen, I was regularly beat-up, quite violently, by a group of "typical farmerboys" Scrawny, skinny, spotty, unpleasant characters. For years I've been nervous/afraid if i saw any group of guys with the "scrawny farmer-boy" look. Soo, it is by no means racism If You were totally scared of young black men for a while. The trick is to not let this one nasty experience form Your view on a certain class of people, however, one's subconcious is mighty powerful and it takes time before a certain sight will no longer trigger a certain reaction. Time, and being aware of the "panic" feeling as being irrational.

On "hold-ups" in general. I have never had the nasty experience You had(knock on wood)..Phew, Am I glad that the only guns I ever saw were the ones I handled myself in the military(as a military police-man ..of all the jobs...) and that guns are a rarity in our society. They're there, but You'll end up in prison for 15 years when caught carriyng "heat" in public.. Civillians can not own guns. Only if they are a registered member of a gun-club or registered wild-life hunters, and even then, they are not allowed to have gun&ammo in the same place, or carry a loaded gun. Gun-laws are extremely strict in The Netherlands.(oddly enough we areallowed unimaginable powerful cross-bows and sharp edged weapons like huuge swords and battle-axes......EEEPS!)
Do not get me wrong, we do have muggings, but almost never on broad daylight ,and mostly centered around cash-dispensers at night.
Thanks to strict gun-control we have very little gun fatalities. yearly about 50 at worst,(including mishaps) and it's declining...

The Netherlands are considered one of the safest countries in northern Europe, together with Sweden, Danmark and Norway. We're almost a scandinavian country to be honest.

Please do not see this as some Netherlands-propaganda. We have bigger problems with sports"fans" thuggish behaviour during soccer/football games than America ever had. Some Racist-motivated attacks on Black&White, Theft of bicycles is a major problem, destruction of public property by bored adolescents etc. etc. Drunk kids waving knives, even some killings.

Peanuts compared to the terrible killings in America's poorer ghetto's, but still..

Amy said...


It is amazing what the mind will do after dealing with a scary experience. I hated the feeling of being afraid of someone that resembled my robber. I remember talking to my husband about it because I felt guilty for having those feelings of fear when I saw a young black man that resembled the one "bad" one that I had experience with. It did take time to get over and thank goodness I did, but it felt awful none the less to feel that way (even temporarily) towards a certain group of people because of one bad apple. This is exactly what I am trying to teach people to get away from....stereotyping. Scary day that I hopefully won't have to go through ever again.

I WISH we had the gun laws that you do. I see no reason for anyone other than the military, police, or hunters to have guns. We just had a killing in my very "safe" neighborhood on Saturday night due to a gunshot during a fight. My business partner's step daughter was killed in May by gunfire during a fight outside a club in San Diego that she just so happened to be leaving on her birthday. She was caught in senseless cross fire. She was a niece to us and that loss is just horrible and will never go away! There is no reason at all for young men to have access to guns! None. The NRA (National Rifle Association) can go on and on about rights but why do they need them? What are they going to shoot? I don't get it? Okay that is another story for another blog...I could go on!

Thanks for the insight and as always for the great comments!


"J" said...

Oh my ...! The fact that you can , at the spot, mention 2 gun-related deaths in Your immediate surroundings, of which one fairly close to you, scares me and proves to me that "stupid-a$$ liftish-libaral-commies" (Yes, that has actually been said to me on another blog note the "i" in "leftish"..nice illustration of the kind of people we are dealing with here...) Europe is on the right track, whatever the (scary right-wing-gun-nut IMHO)NRA may state.
Law-enforcement:Yes , Military:Yes ofcourse but common civillians? If You want to do some "plinking" A powerful air-pistol will do. I got me a Webley for that. If You're hit, it stings like a slap on a wet bikini, but no more...(let alone the fact that a standard 9mm bullet costs $0.50..overhere. Fire 50 on an evening at the range, every week..bloody expensive believe me. Luckily the military paid :-) As a military policeman, a FN-GP came with the job, I have, however, never fired it in anger or in public . Never even had to unholster it. On some days(traffic-duty) a couple of us had jellybeans in the holster, instead of a gun :-D much more fun, and not such a dead weight....

Amy said...

J, I know, it is insane! The sad thing is it is an every day scenario here in the U.S. What does it take for the laws to change? I just don't see the need for guns when people are getting shot and killed on a daily basis. Half the time it is the innocent people caught in the cross fire of the madness. Rights be damned when people are dying every single day. Clearly something is not working right. There is no reason for the "man" more like boy that robbed me to even have access to a gun! How is it that people are getting into street fights that turn into old west style shoot outs and people die! Senseless! When someone on the other side of the debate loses a child or gets robbed at gunpoint maybe things will change. I know people will disagree but I have seen and experienced too much loss to think otherwise.

Hope all is well across the pond! We sure could use some of those laws here! We are not always right and if the correct people would admit that once in a while and learn from other countries instead of having to always be the "big dog" we might all do just a little better! It is the simple premise of my blog. We can all learn from each others differences!


Anonymous said...

Wow, I can understand your reaction to a certain "group" after having something so terrifying happen to you. I'm glad you eventually were able to let go of that. It's a natural response after a trauma like that, though. I have been fortunate not to ever have had anything like that happen to me. For most of my life I have lived in relatively small towns, and this type of thing isn't something that happens often in towns I have lived in. I did get early training in Martial Arts and that has really helped me to be aware of my surroundings, though, no matter where I am - and not to put myself in potentially dangerous situations - which for me means not venturing to certain places alone, always using the buddy system. I am only 5'1" and may look like an "easy mark." Martial Arts taught me to carry myself with my head up, alert, shoulders back, chest out, and with confidence. I think it creates an "air" about me that I am certain has more than once deterred men from approaching me for whatever reason. Attitude is everything! Ha!

Amy said...

Heather good for you for taking marital arts! You go girl! The funny thing is I am 5' 9" and carry myself very confidentely so the fact that this "kid" could just walk up to me was pretty wild. I guess a gun would scare anyone so he didn't care. I can guarantee you if Jamie had been with me he wouldn't have even come close, gun or no gun. I am so very aware of my surroundings now! Never again.