by Jesse Galef –
Someone tried to rob me last night. I was on Metro and had just struck up a conversation with some strangers when we arrived at a stop and the doors opened. Someone walking by jumped in, snatched my iPod from my hands, and started running away. I chased and caught him, at which point I said something along the lines of “Just give it back” and he did. Of course, by then I had left my backpack (with laptop) on the train… I hope the strangers were kind enough to take it to the Metro lost and found. Otherwise, I lost more property by recovering my iPod – irony at its finest.
I’m going to have to think a lot more about crime. I don’t really understand the mindset. Sure, I’ve heard the common tropes that people can get poor or desperate. But I’m having trouble internalizing it. The question that keeps coming to my mind is: didn’t anyone ever teach them not to steal? I can’t help but link to a relevant MacHall comic from back in the day:
What the hell is wrong with these people? I mean, everyone’s mother tells them that stealing is bad, right? What were they doing while that was going on? Not paying attention? Distracted? Were they thinking about candy?
Or what about church! Or even children’s television! I know you can’t watch G.I. Joe for long without someone telling you at the end not to steal stuff!
Incidentally, the “just give it back” line has worked for me once before – about six months ago when some kids grabbed my girlfriend’s wallet in a restaurant and ran. It avoids unnecessary violence and gets me the stolen property back. But this way they never get punished. I’m not sure how I feel about that.
I’m sure he’ll get away. I wasn’t able to give a good enough description to the police. When they started asking me questions, I had to acknowledge that it happened too fast for me to see details. Black male, about my height, 18-20 years old, black and grey jacket… I got that part. But asking me about his shoes, facial hair, or scars… I told the officer bluntly that it happened too fast and that I didn’t trust my memory. When I tried to picture the robber, there were no clear images – or, more accurately, I could insert various shoes or facial hair into my image of him and they all seemed equally good.
Everything I’ve heard is that eyewitness testimony in high-stress situations is beyond questionable. I didn’t want to tell the police details I didn’t trust. Next time I’ve stopped a robber I’ll try to make a conscious effort to remember his appearance.
Damage assessment: Backpack and laptop – possibly lost. Heel – injured from jumping down a flight of stairs in pursuit. Assumption that people are generally good – momentarily shaken. I hope all three problems are solved with time.