My thoughts at knifepoint

My+thoughts+at+knifepoint

Otto Tielemans

Dragon Press Staffer Otto Tielemans was robbed at knifepoint. Credit: Aysen Tan for The Foothill Dragon Press

A couple of days ago, I had the pleasure of running into two gentlemen who took it upon themselves to threaten, terrorize, and rob me.

My beloved iPhone,which was so close to my heart, was taken by these two boys who threatened to stab me unless I didn’t hand it over. Your parents always tell you: “If you get robbed, give them what they ask for.”

Well, no matter how many times my parents repeated those wise words to me; I took it upon myself to negotiate with these gangsters. By “negotiate” I mean I yelled “NO!” It was ultimately ineffective.

Seeing that I did not want to give up my property, they reached for their knives. And I, of course, gave in. I would have rather they stabbed me instead of taking my iPhone. But the reality of the situation is that they would have probably stabbed me, then taken my iPhone, and left me to die.

If my story stopped here, it would have been a stereotypical robbery: two fit-looking gangsters were robbing an “average” person for something of value. But their next action took me by surprise. Once they had taken my phone, they actually had the audacity to begin telling me their life story. Their “horrible” childhood, what drove them to be part of the gang life, and what caused them to rob me. It was as if they were trying to justify their horrible actions.

I was completely taken aback by the situation. I can handle being robbed, but having thieves trying to justify their abysmal actions was far too much for me. In the back of my head I was saying “These people must be mad. They obviously think I’m Oprah or some type of psychologist. There is no other logical explanation for why they would be telling me this.” But they told me nonetheless. According to them, my iPhone would help pay for the funeral of one of their “fallen homies.”

So you can imagine the situation. Two terrorizing gangsters were pouring their heartache out to a weak, frightened teenager. It felt like something out of a Ray Bradbury novel. However, these two men with hearts of gold assured me that nothing would happen to me as long as I didn’t rat them out.

The reason for why they weren’t going to hurt me was so simple that I even had trouble processing it. What was it, you may ask? My personality? My willing to cooperate? No. None of those. The only thing that granted me “amnesty” was my skin color.

According to them nothing would happen to me because “you’re Hispanic and we won’t hurt our own kind.” How ironic. These two gangsters had just robbed me and threatened to stab me a minute ago, and now they’re telling me that they wouldn’t dare hurt one of their own kind.

I was caught between two distinct emotions. Overall I was grateful because no one wants to be stabbed. But part of me was disgusted, if not offended, by their statement. It demonstrated that these two gangsters, if the opportunity presented itself, would hurt someone else of a different ethnicity. I thought that these sentiments towards other minorities had disappeared a long time ago from where I lived. But this showed me that there is still tension between ethnic groups and it was depressing.

There are no words to explain my overall emotions during the assault. I was caught between confusion, anger, and sadness. I know that to many it’s just a phone and nothing else. But my phone was a present, a present that had sentimental value. And even though I still hold a lot of anger and resentment towards the people who mugged me I’m just glad that I walked away unharmed.  

What do you think?