Saturday, May 31, 2008

A Stickup, Mostly

It was a stickup but the guy didn't get anything.

The victim was my stepson, Ruan, and it didn't happen in a dark alley late at night. It happened Friday afternoon, and just after noon, as he was on his way to school. It was in broad daylight in a very well traveled area, just off one of the busiest streets here in the city. Just a few blocks from our house.

Pivete is a very colorful Portuguese word that means 'child thief' and there are a lot of them here in Salvador. Two of them approached Ruan, calling him by some made-up name apparently to make it look like they knew him, and one of them backed him up against a wall. He grabbed Ruan's arm, and said "Passa o celular, na boa." This means "Give me your cell phone, nice and easy." The other guy was watching the street, covering for his 'friend.'

Ruan, terrified, told him honestly that he didn't have a cell phone and the guy asked him what the hell was in his pocket and even stuck his hand in to find out. He had some cologne in there - Ruan is into cologne. Much more so than myself, much to my wife's chagrin.

So they let him go, and he went, quaking. Next thing he knows someone, an adult, is calling him back. The two kids have been collared by the cops, who had found a cell phone on the one who tried to rob Ruan. They wanted to know if it was his, which he said it wasn't. They wanted to know what happened and he told them. The Pivete got smacked hard twice on the neck and a cop car pulled up ('cruiser' doesn't quite fit the cars they drive here). They were carted off and that was the end of that.

Ruan, to his credit, didn't come home- he stayed on task and went to school and we only heard about what happened when he got home. We actually want him to have a phone, and it's only because of circumstances that he doesn't. Or didn't, because if he'd had one, he wouldn't anymore. He told us he doesn't want to go to school by himself anymore and we told him that what happened was extremely unusual, to be ripped off like that under those circumstances. Clearly the kids didn't know what they were doing, and they did get caught. We told him to stick close to other people if he's nervous, do the herd thing.

I've said it before on this blog that I consider it a minor miracle that the same thing hasn't happened to me yet here in Salvador. The only place I ever got mugged was in Greenfield, Massachusetts with a friend of mine when we weren't much older than Ruan, I think we were fifteen. That also happened quite early- at about 5 o'clock in the afternoon, but it was December which meant it was already dark. It was also in a very public spot, on the main street in Greenfield, but a little artificial grove of Christmas trees had been set up on the sidewalk and the thieves took advantage of it for cover. When they convinced us that they were actually robbing us I gave them my week's pay, which at the time was twelve dollars. Besides that, nothing worse happened other than getting threatened with a studded leather bracelet which the smaller and more psycho of the dudes wrapped around his fist. They chased off my friend and tried to lead me down an alley but I took off and they couldn't catch me. More than twenty years later it still gets my adrenaline going to remember it.

Those guys also got caught eventually, there was an eyewitness and eventually a trial although I didn't testify.

1 comment:

AkuTyger said...

This is why it's some what safer to walk in the street and do battle with the cars. I don't put anything in my pockets, or even carry a purse, when I got out alone since I was mugged on my corner. I hope he gets over it, but it takes a while. I still get tense when I see a group coming towards me, even when I'm not alone.