Lessons on Being Assaulted

Apologies for the jarring title but last night I got minorly assaulted. Minorly being the key word. But I learned some things from my first-hand experience that seem to be pretty straight forward tips for the cruddy situation.

I was transferring trains around 9PM in Times Square. When going though the tunnel I noticed the young man in front of me was mad. He took the pay phone and removed it from its receiver for no reason. He was walking like maybe someone had just pissed him off.

Then he turned and proceeded up the same staircase I needed to take to reach my next train. With no real concern, I went to the other side of the staircase, just so I could walk at my own pace. From the corner of my eye, I saw the man pick up an empty coke bottle (plastic) and then from less than 3 feet away he chucked it at me. Hard. Really hard. And screamed, “f*ck you”. I then stared at him and all I could saw was. “woah!”

Here is where the instructional learning begins:

1. Go find someone. This man and I had been in the staircase alone but just 5 stairs up was a platform filled with people. I took shelter with the first sane man I saw.

2. Get help. With shock and tears in my eyes, I asked the man to help me get a cop. There is no cell service on the train platforms so calling 911 was not possible.

3. Assess the situation. The dangerous, most likely drugged out young guy was still pacing the platform like he had a vendetta. He saw me talk to my new hero/friend. I knew that making any severe moves might make him react again. So I chose not to push the customer assistance button which would have definitely alerted him.

4. Get the hell out of there. While I was concerned about leaving the disturbed man on the platform with other people that he could harm, I knew I did not feel safe and needed to leave. So I got on the first train I could and let myself cry.

5. Tell the cops no matter what. Once I was out of harms way and with cell service again, I called the cops. I told them the situation, that I was no longer there, but I suspected that the gentleman would most likely still be pacing the platforms. I could give them a really vivid description. The cops that are always patrolling at 42nd St. (just unluckily not on my platform earlier) station were notified. While this might have not been the best way to catch the guy, it was the best way to protect myself.

So there are your instructions for the day. Through this little mini crisis- I learned some things too:

1. New York can be dangerous. Since I have never felt unsafe, I walk around a bit jaded everyday thinking I can handle myself. I know self defense. I live in Harlem. I’m always aware of my belongings. So why walk around with any additional concern?

Well last night reminded me that people can be dangerous, even those that look perfectly normal. And even at a normal evening hour. If nothing else, if a guy looks mad- stay behind him.

2. New York has some really nice people too. My friend/hero from the train who did nothing but try to help me, the sweet couple on the train who asked with sincere concern if I was okay and offered me a tissue (which then made me cry more due to their sweetness), my amazing friends who comforted me when I finally reached them, and the bartender who noticed enough to get me a bag of ice and a free drink. So I’ve decided, for every crazy, there are at least 7 wonderful people in New York.

So that was my night. I feel like every New Yorker has a creepy run-in at some point or another, and I hope this was mine. And except for the severe shock, the inability to stop my hands from shaking for 30 minutes,  the large bruise and welt that formed on my elbow, and the inability to fully straighten or bend my arm today, I think this was a great learning experience.

Silver lining right?

Here are some cute pictures of dogs driving cars:

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10 thoughts on “Lessons on Being Assaulted

  1. Hey, that’s King driving my car away! Funny photos after a scary story are key ;-) And yikes, sorry that happened to you, some people suck. Really suck.

    I got yelled at with a big F you for being white a few weeks ago, that hasn’t happened to me since I first moved here. But I agree that the majority of New Yorkers are super nice though, and they outweigh the crazies

  2. Glad you are safe. Traumatic (how ever so slightly) mold us and teach us. I think I would have reacted in the same manner. I am glad to heard you have great friends that could make you feel safe.

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  4. so sorry for your experience. As a native New Yorker, I cringe when I hear about crime or potential crime incidents on the subway. I grew up in NYC and rarely felt unsafe, when most, who heard my family is from New York, were amazed we never got mugged. The subway is a great way to get around and it usually is crowded no matter the time of day. You are right, there is safety in a crowd and you should never hesitate to find a police officer. And most New Yorkers are kind and good people, they are just all in a hurry. Glad you are safe.

    • Thanks Stacy!! And really New York has always felt safe to me. I live in Harlem and never once have I felt uncomfortable. I’ve just realized that this was a complete crazy run-in. I’m almost glad it happened so now I know I can handle myself (and how completely awesome random New Yorkers are).

      Thanks for the read!

  5. I haven’t been able to read your blog for a while and then this.. wow! I’m glad that you are okay and hope that this experience doesn’t mar NYC for you.Yes, this city can be tough and gritty, but overall it is a great place to be. Unfortunately, like most major cities, NYC has a significant concentration of mentally ill people who are, for various reasons, not in the system. From time to time, their worlds and ours collide.

    You took the right steps and more importantly seem to have a better handle on how to trust your gut, scan your environment, and know when to step aside so as not to create more intensity.

    • Thanks for this! I definitely feel like while this is not an event I would like to experience again, I’m glad I now know I can handle myself!

      Thanks for reading as always :)

      -Lauren

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