Okay, I was waiting for Megan McArdle, a lifetime New Yorker, a href=”http://www.janegalt.net/archives/009529.html” to tell us her story /aof being robbed in the city for the first time in her 33 years…but the story has so far never materialized so I’ll tell you my own “Robbery and the City” story. I am frankly amazed that it took 33 years for her to get robbed in NYC, for me, it was a matter of about a week or so before I was treated to what used to be a typical New York experience. But my experience in New York was a different one than the experience one would have in the city today–it was the 1980′s, pre-Rudy Giuliani and during the a href=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crack_Epidemic”crack epidemic /aaround NYC. I was 21, a graduate student at the a href=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_School_for_Social_Research”New School for Social Research/a and fresh from Tennessee where I had lived on my own for 3-4 years prior, but had never been robbed at knifepoint. br /br /I had moved into an apartment on 11th street and first avenue in Manhattan over a rat infested bakery–that is a story for another day–but my graduate school was in walking distance of my apartment or I could take the subway from sixth avenue back to first on the L train. After class one night around 9, the other students and I walked out, most of the class was going in the opposite direction and one gallant fellow even offered to walk me to the subway. I, of course, declined, not being used to asking others to walk me anywhere. br /br /I made my way toward the subway, thinking about what we had discussed in class, not paying attention to the fact that I was passing Union Square park, where drug dealers and junkies congregated, but for the most part, they just asked you if you wanted weed etc. This night, however, one of the junkies was hiding in the shadows near a building and grabbed my arm, branishing a knife. If you have ever been the victim of a violent crime, most likely, you will remember everything happening in slow motion, at least I did. The black male told me he had killed other women and made it clear that he would kill me. I felt sick as I gave him my high school class ring and a birthstone I had worn since childhood as well as the money I had in my pocket. I had no weapon and no way to protect myself, in New York at that time, it was a href=”http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C0CE7D81F39F930A3575BC0A966958260″illegal even to carry mace/a. I felt not only exploited by this perpetrator but by the city as well. br /br /The story ends well for me, I noticed the junkie was high and he seemed shaky and nervous. I saw a cab coming towards us and I jumped in front of it, figuring it would be better to be hit by a cab and go to the hospital than risk getting knifed. Luckily, the cab stopped before it hit me and I jumped in and asked the driver to take me home. I had no money and the cab driver cursed me, even when I asked him to stop at my bank (I had my bank card in a pocket). When I told him I had been robbed, his reply was, “that was your boyfriend, quit trying to put one over on me.” “Wow”, I thought to myself, “welcome to New York.” br /br /My roommate just laughed when I got back to the apartment and told her I was going to call the police to report the crime and she was right, no one took it seriously. br /br /I still wonder sometimes if this thief ever hurt someone else who didn’t get away. I blame myself for not doing more to have stopped him, but I am grateful that I got away that night without being physically harmed. br /br /I sometimes wonder what it would have been like to have lived in New York when Giuliani was mayor or afterwards, for it seems like night and day when I go to visit now. It is so much cleaner and nicer and I hear that the police take crimes more seriously now. Any mayor (along with the police department) who could so totally change that city from the post 80′s New York that I knew to what it is today must surely have what it takes to be a fine President.
November 19, 2006 - 10:49 am