The Upside of Armed Robbery

August 21, 2011

You don’t really know what category you fall into until it happens, but there are three of them, I believe. Categories. You either A: Panic, surrender your wallet, and march straight to the police, or B: Remain calm, surrender your wallet, THEN panic, and march straight to the police, or C: You fight back, beat the thieves to a pulp, keep your wallet, and march straight to the police…after you stop for a mojito. Category C people are rare, and should be married immediately if you find one.

I fell soundly into category B. Which is good, because I’m pretty sure the young woman I was with was an A. It worked out perfectly I must say. During the robbery she froze. She didn’t realize what was happening until I told her to give him the purse. He got impatient and cut it off her. When he pointed the knife at me, I tossed him my bag, turned around and we walked away. Calmly. Quickly. Quietly.

THEN I freaked out.

A stream of explicatives only someone with a parrot and a patched eye should EVER utter came rushing out my mouth. Shortly after, my brain froze and I forgot every word of every language that I had ever learned. Thank goodness my companion was now in a calm phase. I was of no help as she tried to explain to the police what had happened, though sadly, it was to no avail. The cop couldn’t understand us, no matter how many times we explained it. Oh well. Welcome to Guatemala.

It sounds cliche, I know, but I don’t mind so much the lost money, or the credit cards, or the hassle that will ensue as I try to replace everything. The guy that robbed us was clearly desperate, probably a drug user as evidenced by his emaciated body, and his life was in far worse condition than mine. No, it wasn’t that. What upset me the most was that fact that the next morning I was still spinning. I hadn’t slept. I cried and cursed alternatively while my housemate peacefully ate her breakfast. It lasted for two days, this state. I spun while she calmly went about her business. Frankly I resented her for moving past it so quickly. I wanted to be like that too, but I wasn’t, no matter how much I wanted to be.

But I did learn a few things. I learned that I’m clear headed in a moment of crisis. I learned that its easy to let go of your wallet when you have to. I learned to keep my money in my bra when traveling in a third world country. And last but not least, I learned that I process stress the way some people fight viruses. They work and work, and never get sick as they do, but the minute they get a free weekend….they’re stricken like dogs. And that was me. Sick as a dog. For two days. Not the way I would have imagined it to be, but it is what it is, right?

So for those of you who have yet to discover what category they fall into and are afraid of what they might find, I offer this. First and foremost, I hope you never have to learn anything this way. Needless to say armed robbery is no fun. Second, unless you’ve been on a SWAT team or served in special forces, chances are you are not a Category C, no matter how much you want to be. And that’s okay.

Third, I discovered that there is an upside to armed robbery, and it’s this. There is great reward in learning something about yourself that you didn’t know before, and then coming to terms with it. Coming to terms with the difference between who you ARE and who you WISH you were is the great civil war we all fight within ourselves. So if an experience like this brings you that much closer to acceptance and declaring peace within yourself, then you’re that much closer to nirvana.

By the way, if you’re male and fall into Category C, call me.

**UPDATE: Tuesday August 24, 2011** 

There is an unconfirmed report that there were at least a dozen robberies the night of August 18th, 2011 in what appears to have been an organized crime spree in the city of Antigua that began sometime around 8pm. A number of victims were allegedly hospitalized from stab wounds.

I personally know of three other people that were victims of attacks that night; a young couple from the states, and an American Expat living in Antigua. The couple was stupidly on drugs when they were jumped on the street and had their passports stolen. The other, a young woman, received a stab wound to her leg when she tried to run away. Her purse was taken. She is recovering.

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