Today, as my contribution to Robert Hruzek’s group writing project, “What I Learned from Adversity,” I would like to relate an experience whereby I was almost mugged on the way to work.
The situation occurred on a Monday morning just over six years ago. I was under a considerable degree of pressure in the office with regards to workflow, and had decided to go in to the office a couple of hours early as a result.
It was still dark when my train arrived at Melbourne Central station, and as got out of the train, there were no other people in sight as I got out of the train apart from two dark skinned youths,
Hurriedly, I proceeded up the escalator, but one of the youths followed and was soon by my side asking for change for a phone call.
Deciding warily to give him what he asked for, I reached into my pocket to retrieve my wallet. Big mistake – turning to run, he snatched it from my hand.
Fortunately, he did not get very far. In a knee-jerk reaction, I reached out my hand and managed to take a hold of his jacket. A brief struggle ensued, during which the youth was knocked over backward and my wallet spilled to the ground. Frantically, I scooped it up and bolted as fast as I could, reporting the incident to police as immediately upon reaching my office.
Let me stress, by no means were my efforts to defend my property borne out of some brave, heroic act of vigilantism. Instead, I was completely turned to jelly from a mental and emotional viewpoint, and my conduct merely represented something of a shocked knee-jerk reaction.
Here are two key lessons which I took away from the ordeal:
• Work deadlines are no reason for physical danger.
Physical safety is more important than work deadlines, and no matter what the situation with regards to workflow, one should never place themselves in a situation whereby they are using public transport during hours where it is unsafe to do so.
In cases where the performance of work related duties during irregular hours is necessary, then individuals who do not have their own private form of transportation should consider asking their employer to pay for a taxi.
• Greater empathy for those who have suffered serious forms of assault.
Not having ever suffered any form of physical or sexual assault, I cannot possibly pretend to understand the lasting impact which these types of ordeals must have upon those who fall victim to callous attackers.
Nevertheless, I feel that I have become more empathetic with those who have suffered serious forms of assault as a result of the ordeal.
I was considerably shaken by the episode. Due to my distressed state, I had to be sent home from work later that morning, and I did have several nightmares during the weeks that followed, which I presume represented some form of emotional reaction stemming from the ordeal.
Given the extent to which I, as a twenty-six year old man, was affected by the incident, I can only imagine the impact which victims of serious physical or sexual assault must feel, especially when it happens to those members of the community who are most vulnerable, such as women, children or the elderly.
(That said, let me stress again that I cannot, and will not pretend to understand the long term pain which no doubt affects those who have experienced these types of traumatic events).