I was mugged at 11 am on Thursday morning in Chicago.
Two teenagers followed me into the lobby of a recording studio. One of them pried my phone out of my hand. The other one lingered, looking like he wanted to take my purse. I remembered from my college self-defense class that the best way to disarm an assailant is to make them talk to you. So that's what I did. I started talking to the second man, asking him questions and blubbering the first gibberish that popped into my head. He ended up running away with his friend.
After they took off, I went upstairs to borrow my producer's phone. I called my husband and had him remotely lock down my iPhone. It worked. Except then the robbers had my husband's phone number. They called him 3 times, telling him that they had a gun, and they were going to rape and kill me if he didn't either unlock the phone or give him $500 in cash. He refused.
I called the police. They offered no help. In fact, the 911 dispatcher talked down to me and told me there was nothing they could do.
I sat for 4 hours, trying to collect my thoughts. I finally got onto a computer in the building and turned on the "Find My iPhone" function. I could see that my phone was sitting in a parking lot a few blocks away. I asked my producer to drive me there.
The teens had smashed and abandoned it. I had to army crawl through the mud under a gate to get to it. I dusted myself off, went to my car, and started driving home.
It's been 3 days now. Here's my takeaway:
We absolutely cannot run away from fear. Crime moves into places where good people run away from it. The more that honest people run away, the more dishonest people feel like criminal life is normal; perhaps they think it's all they deserve. But they do deserve better. We all do. We all deserve the right to live in safe, clean neighborhoods, making a decent wage for our hard work.
I'm well aware that I'm opening a restaurant in one of the more dangerous neighborhoods in the State of Illinois. And I've never had more conviction about it than I do right now. If we want a better world for ourselves and our kids, we have to stick around and fight for it. We have to stand our ground and make it better.
I wish those teens believed in how precious life is, both mine and theirs. (It better be worth more than $500 and jail time). And I wish they believed they had the same opportunities as I do. Finally, I wish they actually DID have the same opportunities as I do. But until we're all afforded equal opportunities, there will always be people who feel like they have to resort to crime.
Reader, stay safe, and stay vigilant out there this week. As the world becomes more dangerous, let's not forget how strong and loving we are. Resist fear, foster equality, and believe we all deserve better. I'm off to enjoy this snowy Sunday with my kids and husband and LEGOs. See you next Sunday. -Em