Mugged in Front of Gandhi

illustration by Mark Chamberlain

Mugged in Front of Gandhi

It was summer in Washington, D.C. and as anyone who has spent time in D.C. knows, the city holds the humidity so that the night's street lights are wrapped in a halo and any attempt to navigate outside is like walking through a sauna with monuments poised as giant chess pieces. One evening in late August, it just so happened that I would get mugged on Massachusetts Avenue around 10pm in front of the Gandhi statue.

The entire moment seemed ironic because it was not that late and not a particularly dark spot. The newish Gandhi monument was watching over me so what did I have to be afraid of? As I reached to unlock my car; I noticed a sweaty, muscular, shirtless man walking towards me. In a moment of vanity, I thought he was approaching to ask what I was up to for the night. No such luck, he asked for $13.50, which with the precise denomination told me I was in trouble. Pulling out a twenty as a gesture of good will was not enough to slow down what was to happen next.

He snatched my wallet, mumbled "faggot" and slowly, with confidence headed down the sidewalk. Fight or flight kicked in and I popped the trunk to my Dodge Neon, pulling out a six inch buck knife to chase him down the street. Flashing through my head were visions of the line at the DMV, which were more painful than the thought of mortal combat. Dancing behind his slow lumbering body like some amateur fencing contestant, I challenged him to give back my wallet or I would stick him. Laughing, he spun on his heel and slapped me in the face with the green Prada bifold, shouting that if I wanted the cash to meet him in the alley. Luckily, there was a guy behind me screaming "It's not worth it!" and I snapped back to reality, grateful that I at least had my documentation. The mugger darted into the shadows and I tried to put the incident behind me.

Flash forward to a year later...I am having dinner with a make up artist friend at the newly anointed trendiest street in DC, 14th Street NW. Everything was super cool and we planned to head out to a bar where he knew the staff, got the check and strutted towards the door. Opening the door and asking for change was a crumpled, broken man. It was a heavy, glass door and as my buddy passed through, I locked eyes with the troll; it was my mugger. I took the handle firmly, pulled the door back about six inches and then quick as lightening, slammed him in the head. He rolled back kind of like an overturned turtle as he mumbled "I remember you, meet me in the alley". All the outside diners started freaking out and the manager warned me that he was calling the police. I agreed that was the proper next step and explained that he had mugged me while informing the thief that he owed me $80 plus interest. He actually agreed.

Suddenly, a mix of Verbena and taxi exhaust got my attention and I realized my friend had jetted. The crowd told me to go and the mugger had a sidekick pop out of the alley to drag him back into the darkness. Walking off the craziness and trying to catch up with my friend, I was able to rationalize that this was not a hate, race, gender or targeted crime. It was a crime of addiction and the only person in the way of his issue was me. I walked into a time capsule of a bar to find my dinner date surrounded by his ladies in waiting. I pulled him aside as he kept repeating "what was I to do?" "You're a make up artist, pull out a brush and stab him in the eye!" was all I could think to say. This had nothing to do with my friend and I cannot blame him for not having my back.

I've spent too much time thinking about whether my violent reaction was not in the spirit of Gandhi and what was life teaching me? Maybe, I overreacted by slamming the perpetrator in the face with a door but at the same time there was a need to stand up for myself. Maybe, it was not my duty to teach this man a lesson? Maybe, I should have been the bigger man and made an effort to help this human. However, I doubt my story was the only account of wrongdoing at the hands of this zombie and besides, he never had to say "faggot".