Sunday, March 20, 2011

The wife and I headed downtown last night for a date night.  The plan was to grab a quick drink and then go see a movie.  As we were walking down 4th St. I heard a woman behind me scream "Stop him!  He robbed me!"

I looked around and spotted some guy, maybe 18 years old, running down the street.  One or two guys were giving chase and they were following the robber as he zig-zagged across the street.  I turned to Hank.

"Should I go after him?" I asked her.

"Do you think you can catch him?"

"I'm not sure.  Maybe," I said, contemplating the robber's rate of speed.

(Note that this dialogue, which was taking place as the robber was escaping down the block, reminded me a lot of a conversation we had had earlier in the day.  Hank had just run out of the bathroom exclaiming that the toilet was overflowing.

Me:  What?
Hank:  The toilet is overflowing!
Me:  Seriously?  Overflowing?
Hank:  Yes!
Me:  Are you wearing shoes?
Hank:  No!

This dialogue, which was taking place as poo-water was seeping across our floor, should have instead been replaced by jumping into action.  There's a time for deliberate and measured data collection and then there's a time to just turn off the damn water supply.  The great Poonami of 2011 would have been better served by quick action than repeated confirmations of the need for quick action.

Ditto for the pursuing of the purse snatcher.)

"Ok, go!" exclaimed Hank and I took off.

The robber immediately realized that he was being pursued by several people at this point so he dropped the purse and cut down a side street.  I kept running after him.  Turns out, he was in terrible shape and I caught up to him very quickly

Note that I go running a couple times a week to stay in shape.  I don't really care for running, it being one of the least pleasant forms of exercise, but I do it because it's an efficient form of exercise.  THIS, however, this chasing of a purse-snatcher, was something different.

This was the kind of running you did as a kid, chasing your friend around the backyard.  This was a dog running after a car.  What is the dog planning to do when he catches the car?  Well, the dog probably hasn't thought that far ahead, but you can't go wrong with some barking.

I had planned equally far ahead, so I did some barking too.

"Dude!" I called out as the guy cut back and forth trying to stay away from me, "I run marathons!  You are NOT going to outrun me!"

Trash talk was really all I had.  What would I do if I caught the guy?  I slowed down a bit.

The guy stopped running and looked to see if there was somewhere to go hide.  Right around then the other good samaritan caught up and grabbed the robber.  "YOU WAIT FOR POLICE!" he yelled.

The robber twisted and tried to get away just as some woman ran up.

"DON'T TOUCH MY BOYFRIEND!" she screamed and shoved the other good samaritan.  I decided to not touch anyone, but just to get in the way, blocking the robber from going anywhere else.  We did a little awkward dance while I considered yelling that he was under citizen's arrest.   The robber took off again and I took off after him.

"You are in terrible shape!" I yelled as the robber slowed down to a walk and opened the door to Bloomingdales.  I followed him in.

At this point he just started to briskly walk through the store, with me following closely behind, yelling to every salesperson I saw, "HEY!  THIS GUY JUST STOLE  A PURSE!  GET SECURITY!"

I figured with me, a white guy, and the robber being black, and us being in the swankiest department store, that all the stereotypes were in my favor and store security would swoop down instantly.   Turns out all we really got were disinterested glances from the store employees.  Their laziness trumped their prejudice.

We power-walked through the length of the store, with me yelling the entire time and the robber muttering that I should just leave him alone.  Then we kept it up through the mall, with me occasionally interrupting my calls for mall security to explain to the robber that if he was going to continue stealing purses, he was going to have to take up running or just get generally fitter.

We finally exited the mall, emerging out onto Market St..  At this point the robber spotted a group of teens, and ran through them yelling that I had been harassing him.  Sensing injustice, they immediately came towards me and wanted to know why I was hassling the guy.

I explained that he had stolen a purse and that I was trying to stop him from running away, but right about then the guy disappeared into the crowd and I lost him.  Game over.

I turned around, went back into the mall and found half a dozen mall cops surrounding the robber's girlfriend, who was thrashing around in protest.  The woman whose purse was stolen was there, explaining the story.

Is anyone going to jail for this?  Probably not.  Was it foolish for me to corner some thief and just hope he wasn't violent?  Probably.




Linda@VS said...

It made for an awesome blog post, too! Reading it made me feel like I was watching a movie, in which you were played by, I dunno, Keanu Reeves maybe? (Nah, he's probably too old by now.) Anyway, the imaginary movie audience watching along with me burst into laughter when the crook started yelling that YOU stole a purse, then we all cheered at the part where you met up with Hank again and she threw her arms around you and was SO proud of you and SO happy you were safe.

(Sigh.) Great scene!

Anonymous said...

Not sure I'd have done the same but then I'm in the kind of condition where bringing the paper up three flights of stairs leaves me checking my pulse for arrythmia. Good for you though, you manly guy.

Mike said...

Keanu ain't much older than me, so he'll do fine (although I'd prefer someone a little more animated). Regardless, you're on board for the screenplay adaptation.

Anon, it was probably a pretty stupid decision. Amazing that even after taking too long to think about it, I still made the wrong call. Thanks though!

Siôn said...

Wow! Just reading that was thrilling!

Mike said...

Reading it was thrilling? Must be pretty slow over there in Wales. Nice to hear from you though.

Anonymous said...

This would have been much easier if you had the power of flight or invisibility. Which would you chose?

Mike said...

Excellent question, Bones, but I'm not sure either of those helps me. Sure, I could fly to the guy very quickly, but again I'm stumped by what to do when I catch up. And invisibility? To sneak up behind him and....?

What I needed was the superpower of being-able-to-detain-ness or maybe asskickiness.