Monday, March 13, 2006
An introduction to violence
Life is full of ironies if you're stupid enough to go looking for them. Take last night for example. I leave for Sudan in three days. It isn't understatement to say that Sudan is awash in guns. And yet last night, after having lived (on and off) rather peaceably in Washington, DC for the past eight years, some friends and I got held up at gunpoint.
The first thing that came to mind when the guy pulled out the gun and demanded money was how terribly inconvenient the timing was. I mean, c'mon, I don't have time to cancel and get new credit cards! My first thought was, "are you kidding me? I'm going to a place with 'real' guns and 'real' violence and here I am getting mugged on a quiet DC street? I have to get back to Baltimore to pack! I don't have time for this!"
The next thing that sprung to mind was, "gosh, that's a really cool gun!" A glock, silver, the kind with the sliding top to load it. I know because while my friends and I are doing all this thinking, he's cocking it to motivate us.
Luckily, at that point sheer rationality kicks in and you remember all the things that you're supposed to remember...be calm and compliant, but not too compliant, give the guy what he's asking for, try not to get shot, etc. My very level-headed friends handled it beautifully and we ended up only parting with $6. A small price to pay when you think about it.
Which you do, later. The thoughts creep in and replay about how it all could have ended quite differently. How lucky we were to only be missing $6, and not a car, or a kneecap, or a friend.