When I was in college, I was mugged at gunpoint. It was a horribly traumatic experience. I was pretty scarred by it after it happened. A few days later the cops found my wallet and ID in a garbage can downtown.
There's a funny story I tell about the really weird things I had to do to get it back. Ask me about it, I'll tell you sometime.
It's been 26 years since that happened to me, and the trauma has long since passed, leaving me with just a funny story and a better sense of how to move about a dangerous neighborhood at night.
Until just now.
I saw this video a friend of mine posted to Facebook.
It got me thinking about the man who attacked me.
How it went down for Julio Diaz isn't how it went with my guy. My guy put his hands in my pockets until he got my wallet, then told me to count out loud, loudly, to 100, and not move unless I wanted to die.
Yeah, not great. I was too busy counting and crying to really get a good look at him.
I don't remember much about him. He was black and shorter than me. I remember at the time thinking the cold, hard end of his gun poking me in the side made our height difference utterly irrelevant.
I can't tell you what he was wearing, or really even what he looked like beyond those scant details.
I remember that night though. It was cold. My breath steamed in front of me as I walked down the street at 2 am.
What was I doing walking down the street at 2 am? It doesn't matter, it was a stupid bad choice.
But I'm left wondering, what was he doing walking down the street at that time of night too?
Sure, you don't just walk around with a gun in your pocket on the off chance you might get to mug a dumb college kid.
Sure, I was hunted .
But what drives a person to hunt another person? How desperate must you be?
I feel kind of like those shark attack survivors who turned to advocate for sharks afterward. Seriously, that's a real thing.
I haven't thought about my mugger (what a weird thing to say) in years. And before today, I don't think I ever truly made the connection to see him as a person.
I'm glad I did.
It's got me wondering what I can do to help folks like him now.