It’s taken me a few days to process this, and I’ve thought long and hard about whether I wanted to write about this publicly. Those of you who follow me on Instagram know that on Friday evening, I got a courtesy ride from the cops (and some of you left some very good emoji montages, pictured above). I was on my way to the Needles & Pens anniversary show, and BART was delayed due to that naked guy fiasco, so I hopped on a 14 and took my phone out of my pocket to let a friend know that I would be late. Then, as the bus pulled over to the 23rd and Mission stop, a scary man ripped my phone out of my hands and ran off the bus with it.
Now, I don’t consider myself a particularly brave person. I cover my face at least once during every Game of Thrones episode, I’ve had a long history of existential anxiety and hypochondria, and I am a smallish person with a weak constitution who has never gotten into a physical fight in her life. Maybe it was the fact that I had just been pick-pocketed in Europe last month, but something happened to me then, some animal instinct that flipped a switch and propelled me off the bus, screaming bloody murder and running after this guy who was twice my size with all of my might.
I caught up to him and grabbed the hood of his sweatshirt, yelling “GIVE ME BACK MY PHONE! HE STOLE MY PHONE!” over and over at the top of my lungs. He struck me in the face and threw me to the ground, but I somehow managed to get back up and run after him again. After some blur of a struggle, he let go of my phone, muttered “what the fuck is wrong with you?” and took off around the corner. Despite having been dropped, my phone was miraculously in one piece and barely damaged. This all happened in less than two minutes.
The Muni driver, who had stopped the bus since I had run off screaming, declared this his last stop and called 911. “See that?” he said, pointing to the cameras placed about the bus. “We got him here. We got him there.” There is also a camera in front of Mission Bar, where most of this transpired. Two nice girls held me and offered me cigarettes while I waited for the police and paramedics to arrive, then stuck around to give eyewitness testimony. My lip was bleeding and I was shaking uncontrollably but I kept insisting that I was okay. I got my phone back and I am alive. I have never been hugged and told I was a badass by so many strangers.
Let me just say that I do not consider what I did to be the smartest thing to do. When shit happens, the human body has a fight or flight response, and mine happened to be fight. I had no time to think, and adrenaline is one hell of a drug. However, there were at least ten witnesses on the sidewalk and several times that number on the bus and inside nearby businesses, and during the chase and struggle, none of these people intervened to help me. This is still disappointing to me. If you see a person in distress, please do something. Anything. Please do not assume that it may just be a domestic dispute that you have no business involving yourself in, like so many bystanders in my case.
I am fine. My right knee is in a brace and I have some bruises and cuts on my hands and face, but it could have been a lot worse. I probably have a bit of psychological trauma, but mostly I feel triumphant. And angry. I am angry that I had to go through that, that I was not more careful, that I have all of these aches in my body. I am angry that nobody helped me until it was over. I am angry that this awful criminal is still out there. I am angry that I cannot be safe in a city that I spend so much to live in, and that this city breeds the kind of class warfare that drives crimes like these. I am angry because I am a freelance designer who works harder and makes less money than the average person my age living in this neighborhood, but that doesn’t matter because I was targeted anyway. And I am angry that despite all this, I will probably get some shitty reactions declaring that I deserved this, that I had it coming, something something gentrification tech hipster bullshit something.
I made it to the Luggage Store after all, via that courtesy ride. I laughed and cried and drank and smoked more than I should have, then met up with other friends and stayed out. And then I stayed out all day Saturday, because I did not want to be home alone with my cat and my thoughts. I am feeling much better now, thanks to time and the company of so many of my favorite people. You know who you are and I thank you with all of my heart. I am a wolf. I fought the bad guy, and I won.
Update: I wrote some more thoughts on Mission Mission.