the time i got robbed at knifepoint (but by a gentleman)
Updated: Mar 12, 2019
i don't know a LOT about robbery but i DO know that you should go into it with a gameplan.
so when i was studying in argentina, it was like a thursday, and they were having what’s called a “feria” which is kind a holiday?? in argentina sometimes they decide to CANCEL EVERYTHING, ostensibly to celebrate things like books and students but i suspect really so that nobody has to go to work.
argentina gets me.
ANYWAY, i decided that day to go the gym! this was new and different for me, a person who considers “intense chewing” to be exercise. it went the way that trips to the gym usually do for 5'8" girls with severe pigeon toes and a total lack of all motivation.
as i’m walking home, past the college of dentistry, i was fussing with a lighter that i had in my pocket because i was also, at that time, dealing with my fear of intimacy by smoking. so this guy comes up to me and is like, “hey, can i borrow a light?”
here’s a list of things i should have said:
“ahhhhhh you know what, i would, but i’m super busy right now??? i actually have a dentist’s appointment, as evidenced by this College of Dentistry that i’m standing outside??”
“NO HABLO ESPAÑOL.”
“don’t you know that smoking gives you cancer? let’s commit to quitting, right now, to each other. bring it in. go team. together we can.”
here’s what i did say:
“claro que sí, amigo.”
so he’s trying to light his cigarette, and his hands are shaking a little and he can’t. and i’m like, dude, calm down, it’s okay. it's a beautiful day. we're all just chillin. you don't have to be nervous about using my lighter.
after a few seconds, he kind of goes, “fuck it,” and drops the lighter into his pocket. and i’m like, “excuse me??? that’s my lighter?? also you didn’t even manage to light your cigarette???” but before i can vocalize these protests, he gets rEALLY close to me and pulls out a knife. then he goes, “you have three seconds.” what i should have said:
“okay. you can have whatever you want.”
“here’s my wallet.”
“wow, what a very sharp-looking knife, in what way can i avoid being stabbed with it today??”
what i actually said:
“haha, uhhhhh, until what?”
UNTIL WHAT. “UNTIL WHAT, MR. SIR WITH THE KNIFE? LIKE, WHAT’S ON THE MENU HERE???? Is it, perhaps, a nice steak dinner with a side of DEATH?”
BUT HE DIDN’T SAY DEATH!!! it turns out that the gentleman attempting to rob me was like, maybe a rookie? it’s possible that he had never robbed anybody at knife-point, before. this as an experience that we were going through together for the first time. because what he said was: “….i have a knife.”
i said, “yes. i can see that. it’s very nice.”
IN MY DEFENSE: IF YOU ARE GOING TO ROB SOMEONE, THE ONUS IS ON YOU TO GIVE CLEAR DIRECTIONS.
“i have a knife”??? come on, buddy. be better prepared. come with a to-do list. practice in a mirror.
“then i’m going to pull out the knife and say: give me _____.”
clear, concise, quick. that should be your motto, buddy. it is not MY JOB, as the ROBBEE, to read your goddamn mind. I AM NOT DRIVING THIS SHIP. IF YOU ALSO AREN’T DRIVING IT, WE ARE IN TITANIC-LEVEL TROUBLE.
at this point, clearly realizing that he had gotten in tOO DEEP with this dumbass tourist who didn’t even know how to get robbed properly, he blurted out, “uhhhhh, do you have a phone?”
i did have a phone! i had a broken claro go-phone that i had purchased upon entering the country which had 2 argentine pesos worth of text messages left in it and a inbox message from a boy name juan that said, “you like me a LOT.”
i had responded, “actually, i just like you the normal amount.”
i felt bad about that when i realized that he was trying to say, “i like YOU a lot,” but feelings verbs in spanish are mostly reflexive.
i handed the man with the knife my phone. he looked at it. looked back up at me. “are you serious?” his face seemed to say. “this is what you’re giving me right now? a janky ass claro go-phone that is CLEARLY MISSING THE NUMBER 7 KEY????”
look, the shoddy workmanship is a source of frustration to you and me BOTH, okay. we’re BOTH victims here.
but the beautiful thing about this story is that HE TOOK IT! he looked at me, looked down at his knife, sighed, and put the phone in his pocket. THEN HE REACHED BACK INTO HIS POCKET AND RETURNED MY LIGHTER TO ME. we looked at each other.
here’s the thing that no one tells you about daylight robbery: there’s like. an afterbeat.
there is a moment in between “robbery-in-progress” and “going home to your homestay and explaining that you can’t answer phone calls anymore” where you and your robber have to look at one another and figure out how to like, wrap this baby up.
listen, friends: in robberies, as everywhere, goodbyes are never easy.
“thank you,” he said. “you’re welcome,” i answered.
he hesitated. “have a good day,” he said, giving a little wave.
“………….okay,” i answered. “you too. enjoy the phone.”
it was broken.
it was clearly broken. we both knew nothing but heartache was going to come from that phone.
i think about this a lot, and i wonder if he ever thinks about me. i wonder if he ever thinks, “that square-jawed american jerk knew i was going to have to press the 7 key four hundred times before it registered anything."
i’m sorry, man with the knife. i panicked. in the heat of the moment, we all say things we don’t mean.
ETA 2016: oh my god i was going through my facebook last night and LOOK WHAT I FOUND