I knew who he was as soon as he walked in. After all, I was an avid fan of The Following, where he played a bisexual serial killer, and I’d just seen the episode of The Catch last night where he played a murderer. He ordered a Gibraltar, and as I was ringing him up I said, “I saw the episode of The Catch that you were on last night.”
“Oh, cool!” He said.
“I have to tell you though, I knew you were the killer, because I’ve seen The Following.”
He laughed, and I imagined our lives together, growing old and telling our grandkids the story of how we met. Sadly, I simply made him his drink and he sat down to read. As we closed the store, I was brimming with excitement at seeing this handsome actor who I had most definitely fantasized about.
After he left, I finished closing the store, and left to walk to my car. I began immediately texting my closest friends about him coming in and asking if I was single, and that we were now dating. As I sent off the last text, I heard footsteps running up behind me.
“Aw, shit,” I thought.
A man knocked my phone out of my hands from behind.
“Give me your phone,” he said.
“Take it!” I said, turning to walk back to my work. I saw another man holding a gun at me.
“Keep walking that way,” he said.
“Okay!” I said, turning and walking back in the direction of my car. As I power walked away, I felt an overwhelming sense of relief. I was so glad that nothing bad had happened, and I felt almost giddy with the adrenaline running through my veins. I got to my car, and started to drive back to my work.
“I wonder what I’d do if I drove past them,” I thought. “Maybe I should run them over. Is that legal? Would that be self defense? Probably not.” And I know my dad the judge wouldn’t help me get off for running someone over with my car, because I asked if he would, and he said no. My own father!
Luckily for me I didn’t see them driving back, but I did see a police officer standing next to his car on a side street. I quickly pulled over and jumped out of the car. “Hello, I was just robbed at gunpoint,” I said.
“What are you doing in the area?” The officer said.
I was confused. “I work here! I was just walking back to my car.”
They asked me a bunch of questions about what happened, including what my attackers looked like.
“One of them kind of looked like my roommate,” I thought, but I didn’t tell the cop that. I described them to the officer. “One of them had frizzy hair.”
“Like an Afro?” The cop said.
“More like Yaya DaCosta from Cycle 3 of America’s Next Top Model,” I thought, but, again, I didn’t tell the cop that.
They took me down to the station to file a report with another officer because that wasn’t their area. I was more annoyed at losing two hours of my life rather than my phone at this point.
“You’re not from around here, are you?” The officer filing the report said. I felt like the female love interest who’s new in town in some 1960s movie starring Katharine Hepburn.
“Why no, I’m not,” I said, batting my eyelashes.
“Yeah, I can tell. This sort of thing happens a lot here. When I was younger we called it Yoinking.”
“Yoinking?” I asked.
He made a swiping motion with his hand. “Yoink!” He said.
Let me tell you, that is ten times less fun than it sounds.
I went home and used my computer to message my friends telling them what had happened. Everyone was really worried, but I was feeling surprisingly fine. I was just glad that all that happened was my phone getting stolen.
The next day when I went into work, all the girls that were working came up to me and devoured me in a group hug. I loved the attention, but it was feeling a little unwarranted. I was fine!
A few hours later, however, I started to feel uncomfortable. I felt jittery, which I attributed to all the espresso I had sipped. As soon as I got off work, I went home and went to sleep. I slept in until noon the next day, which isn’t particularly unusual for me. But that day I just couldn’t get out of bed. I had someplace to be at 615, but I ended up sleeping though it when I decided to take a midday nap.
I felt paralyzed- terrified of leaving my house and interacting with anyone. I spent the day in bed eating chips and candy and watching Daredevil. I realize in hindsight that watching a show about a vigilante superhero is probably not the best thing to do immediately after being robbed at gunpoint.
The day after that was much of the same. Waking up at noon I thought, ill just keep going back to sleep until I feel like waking up. When the clock hit 130 I realized I will literally never feel like waking up. Something was wrong with me. I didn’t understand, why would I feel like this 2 days after what had happened, when I had felt fine at the time?
I couldn’t understand what was wrong with me. I was falling back on every trick I knew how to check out of my brain, except for drinking. Part of me felt like I was just making up feeling traumatized from what had happened as an excuse to be lazy, eat junk food, and possibly call out of work if I wanted to. It was certainly feeding my need for attention.
I remember the officer telling me, “I hope we get those bastards.”
I could care less if they find them. What difference does it make? I don’t want them to be punished. I just want to feel okay again. How is arresting them going to help that? I don’t want justice for them. I want my peace of mind back.
I spoke to some friends about what I was feeling later that night, and how I’d felt guilty for missing my commitment the night before.
“You’re being pretty hard on yourself,” my friend said. “Would you ever say that to me? If I had been robbed at gunpoint, would you be like ‘well, you need to buck up, you should have been there.'”
“Of course I wouldn’t,” I said. I realized why I was feeling the way I was. The only time I’d felt like this was after a man I was on a date with groped me. I felt violated, unsafe. I felt like I was constantly under attack. PTSD isn’t something I’m incredibly familiar with, but I know enough to realize that that was what I was dealing with. I knew that isolating and checking out was not the way I should deal with it. I just felt so tired. Tired of working a 40 hour week, tired of being an adult, of paying rent, or writing, of living. If something like that could happen and take it all away, then what was the point of trying at all?
I asked my friend Bunny what I should say when I felt like giving up. He said “You can always give up tomorrow.”
That’s what’s getting me through today. When I woke up this morning at 5 am, I wanted nothing more than to check out of my life. But I showed up, and I’m going to keep showing up. I’ve felt like a coward for too long- afraid of so many things, I let fear run my life. I know how to deal with the fear. This is just another kind of fear, but the solution is the same.
I got my phone replaced, and now all that’s left is the memory of what happened. The only thing keeping me in this cycle of fear and despair is myself. I can choose to give up, or I can choose not to. Because it really is true- I can always give up tomorrow.