Thursday, August 18, 2016

A funny thing happened on the way to the office hours

Some students needed to counsel with me about the class, so I walked in to the office even though I normally try to work from home Thursdays here. Since there are multiple routes I could take, I habitually randomize which pathway I take and happened to be on the main thoroughfare through the area about 10:30am when I was mugged.

It was a very polite mugging, really. Cost me all of a $1.50, no injuries, and I had really imagined a lot more stress and allyways involved in a mugging.

This fellow walked up alongside me and greeted me. That was only slightly unusual and I figured he would be asking for money - #1 reason strangers say hello to me. So I reached into my pocket to finger through my cards and random small papers to find the beggar money I keep there. Then he held up something long, wrapped up in a plastic bag, that he was holding like a knife. He said,

"I am not going to do any violence today. Please help me keep my commitment."

We kept on walking together while I tried to process what he said. To me he mumbled, but the word "violence" was very clear. He kept talking and demonstratively lifted the long object two or three times in a suggestive way. My fingers finally identified the R20 bill and I handed it to him.

He politely asked for just 10 more so he could get mumble-mumble.
I told him it was what I had on me.
He asked my name so he could go to church and pray for me.
I told him (part of it).

He asked God's blessing on me for helping him keep his commitment to do no violence and walked across the street again.

For the most part I have treated this as a curiosity. "Hunh. That's not normal." Did my student hours like normal, walked back, bought some socks on the way. Didn't even think to tell Joy about it until a few hours later.

As I type this up, though, I feel decidedly more antsy. I mean, that could have gone badly really easily. He didn't ask for the iPad I was reading from or the computer in my bag. He didn't ask me to turn out my pockets to see my credit cards or if I did have any other cash. Above all, he kept his commitment and I was happy to help. Would've done the same if he hadn't had a shopping bag. ... I may take my walk past the Saudi embassy a little more often, though. Friendly guards there. I wave to them when I pass and they wave back. Nice people, private security officers.

That never happened in Nigeria!