On Tuesday I was mugged while walking the American Tobacco Trail. I was in a place that was well-lighted, within a few yards of three houses and visible from at least three more. I was on high ground, in the open. I’m 6’3″, and I clock in at 270, so I am not a little guy who looks easy to push around. The guys who came up behind me, shoved me around and then robbed me were so casual and so calm that I can’t imagine I’m their first victim. When they were done with me they simply turned around and walked away, as casual as could be, like they’d done nothing more than put money in a parking meter.

They took the following things:

  • $80 cash that I had forgotten I even had on me
  • the Conjured Glacier Water water bottle that Katastrophes brought back for me from BlizzCon
  • my driver’s license and work ID
  • a small card that read, simply, “Miracles,” given to me by the now-deceased owner of a now-defunct pagan store in Carrboro many years ago
  • one small umbrella
  • my car and house keys
  • my iPhone 3GS
  • my fancy noise-cancelling Klipsch headphones
  • the capacity to be in a crowded, public place without a reflexive, rising panic
  • $1200 so far in necessary purchases and fees to replace and re-secure property stolen or threatened
  • the exercise armband for my phone
  • the last rubles I possessed from my trip to Russia in 1994
  • my Election Judge identification card
  • a small backpack given to me by The Boyf
  • a flashlight
  • a wallet that had started to fall apart
  • two and a half work days
  • 19 hours and counting spent standing in line, shopping for a new bag, buying a softball bat to use as my “walking stick” in future, buying a new phone, waiting at the dealership while my car was reprogrammed for new key fobs and so on
  • the capacity to interact with a stranger without feeling afraid
  • approximately 7 hours of sleep so far
  • at least three peaceful dreams that were nightmares instead
  • some degree of dignity as I have had to share this experience repeatedly with neighbors and friends who use the ATT in order to warn them
  • the capacity to walk around a store without checking every single person I see in order to determine if they could be the people who mugged me
  • two pounds in regained weight as I sat idle instead of walking the ATT for exercise
  • several dollars spent unnecessarily at the grocery store due to no longer having my discount cards
  • my member card for Sci-Fi Genre
  • my original VisArt Video card from 1993
  • one check card, now cancelled
  • one credit card, now cancelled
  • $14.95/month in credit monitoring fees
  • a total of approximately three hours spent checking “Find My iPhone” to see if they would turn the phone back on
  • several hours speaking with police and emailing with people on my neighborhood listserv and those of neighborhoods near mine or near the scene of the crime
  • the capacity to think about a given topic for any length of time without realizing that I have slipped into a looped replay of the event itself
  • the capacity to have much respect for the neighbors who thought I would have been fine if I’d had a gun
  • and the minutes spent compiling this list, typing this post and revising it in future.

The thing that I find most frustrating about this is how they only had to invest thirty seconds of their time to steal from me for days upon days. They don’t even have to be here to steal from me. They’re still stealing from me. They will continue to steal from me every time I walk into Target and out of nowhere wonder if I’m going to turn a corner and see one of them standing there and what I’ll do if that happens. They didn’t physically hurt me but they did take something: they took my ability to live life the way I wanted to live it, walking around wherever and whenever on the assumption that in my town, in my neck of the woods, I would be able to enjoy a confidence about my safety. They took all those things and just walked away. To them, all that has no value.

I hope they all live long and healthy lives so that they can get very old, and very frail, and be jumped from behind when they’re out for a walk one day in a place they love.