Wednesday, April 3, 2013
A Friend is Mugged
MUG: (verb) to assault or to menace
especially with the intention of robbery
You think it's never going to happen to you. You think that you're safely insulated from it in the bubble of your life. You think that its ugly tentacles will never touch you, hold you, assault you. And then, suddenly, in a moment, a split second, it is upon you.
If you know me or Mike, you probably remember that we were robbed in Prague about 18 months ago. The incident, that ghost of evil, slapped us in the middle of the night while we slept in our apartment. We lost over $2000 worth of belongings, mostly unimportant little things. We were lucky. The robber did nnot confront us or physically harm us. The damage, however, was emotional. We were lucky enough to recover quickly from the shock and to move on.
Our friends, Bill and Felicia (Names changed), were not — and may not be — so lucky.
We met them Friday evening as we ate our first dinner after boarding the AMALegro river boat for a cruise from Paris to Normandy. From Alabama, they are a friendly couple who love to travel and have taken a number of cruises with AMAWaterways. Like most of us at the table, they chose this particular cruise because it included excursions to the Normandy Beaches.
We docked in Rouen late on Saturday and had Easter morning free to attend church services, walk around Rouen's Sunday market, or have coffee in a little cafe. Bill and Felicia attended the 10:30 service at the Protestant church and spent a little time walking through the town. Like many others, they had a few things with them in a backpack which Bill carried on his shoulders.
They were on their way back to the ship and had just started to cross the street that led to the dock when Bill felt someone grab his backpack. The first yank threw him off-balance, and the second one knocked him down. Bill fell hard, and his right hip collided with the concrete and blacktop street. Somehow, he retained control of his backpack, and the mugger gave up..
Felicia had crossed the street in front of Bill, and she turned in time to see the mugger run off and Bill lying in the middle of the street. She went back to help Bill get up and saw two policemen on the corner across from them. They ignored her and continued talking to each other.
"Let's get to the sidewalk," Felicia said. "You don't want to get run over." Hurt, Bill tried to stand with Felicia's help.
"I'm going to faint," Bill whispered to Felicia as he started to black out. A dead weight, he slid down and carried her with him. They were now both on the ground in the middle of the street. The policemen continued to ignore them, but a few motorists stopped and got out of their cars to help.
"We're so sorry this has happened," they all said.
Bill came to gradually. "I can't stand." One of the drivers called the ship, and the cruise manager got a taxi and helped bring Bill back to the ship. The policemen, still ignoring all of the activity a few yards from them, walked away.
The cruise manager accompanied Bill and Felicia to the hospital later that evening. The good news is that x-rays didn't show a fracture in his hip. The bad news is that Bill is still in pain and cannot walk. He's in a wheelchair to help him get around. I think they are both in shock, and they probably will be for some time.
"There was nothing in the backpack, really," Bill told me later. "The guy would have been disappointed had he gotten it from me."'
Bill and Felicia have not let this horrible incident ruin their vacation. They were unable to go to Normandy with the rest of us on Monday, but they have gone off the ship a few times. The cruise manager even pushed Bill around Honfleur yesterday. They're going to spend two days in Paris before heading home to Alabama early Sunday morning.
I know that there are some people who believe that it's not safe to travel because incidents like this one or our Prague robbery can happen, but it can happen anywhere. Think about the fiery crash that happened on the Strip in Las Vegas a few weeks ago, about the pickpockets in the malls and on the streets of US cities, about break-ins that happen in high-end hotels all over the world. Evil is out there, and its fingers reach in all directions. The best thing we can do is be proactive enough to protect ourselves.