Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Reverse Mug

A few years ago I was Mugged in Reverse... call it the Anti-Mugging. I was strolling home at about 2:30-3am with a happy drunk on from yet another evening out with some friends. It was beautiful end of June late-night/early-evening and I was listening to my iPod on my way home (not smart late at night and drunken to shut off your sense of hearing from potential ruffians) looking quite forward to the feel of my pillow upon my face.

I had just rounded the corner to my street when a cute girl of about 25 came out of a building on my street and sat down on the buildings stoop... looking a tad distressed or really drunk, it was hard to tell which, primarily because I was in my own inebriated state.

She stopped me as I walked by and asked what I was listening to. I told her that it just happened to be a bit of Jamiroquai which she then told me she liked. We talked for another awkward minute my mind racing the whole time. People don’t stop strangers on their way home at 3 in the morning in this city. It’s just not done.

This strange girl then said that she wanted to give me something. I didn’t know what to say and she shoved into my hands what I thought was maybe 3-5 $1bills crumpled together. I gave them back to her and told her I couldn’t take them. I was now very confused. She then said to me that I seemed like a good guy and that I should take it.

At this point I noticed that at the top of the stoop looming in the doorway was a man who was just watching the entire exchange and kind of smirking. To say I was unsettled by him would be an understatement. Was he orchestrating this? Was I on a hidden camera show? HBO’s Stoop Confessions?

I asked her if she was ok. She said she was… but this girl had such an air of melancholy about her that I couldn’t take her response at face value. I stole a glance at the man in the doorway and asked her if she needs to talk or anything. She said “No” and wouldn’t stop trying to force the money on me. She seemed desperate and eventually begged me to please take the money.

Eventually I relent and the half a block home. Had I not been into the cups I might have sat down and chatted with her more about what’s going on or flat out refused or at the very least checked how much she was giving me. I figured when going home that if it was just a few bucks then it’s ok, it’ll take care of breakfast or lunch for me.
I finally relent and head home. It was only when I got home and unfolded the crumpled bills that I realized what I’d been handed.

Sure, there were singles… but there were only 3 $1 bills wrapped around 4 $20s and a $10.

A random distressed girl hands you $93 at 3 am. What do you do?

I immediately ran back out to try to give her the money back because it was just way too much money to randomly accept… but she was gone. A paltry 2-3 minutes had passed and she was vapor.

It made me start to think… what did the unsettling Smirker in the door have to do with things? Was the cash counterfeit? Did I look so indigent at the time that I needed the money? Was the guy making her give away her drug money? What the hell had happened?

It was found money in a sense and didn’t belong to me so it would have been terrible karma to be selfish with it. I took that money and vowed one thing; I would not spend a penny of it on myself. Two days later I found myself in Coney Island with a group of friends and treated them as long as the money lasted. We rode the Cyclone, ate some food, rode a vintage carousel and later one of my friends and I went to a movie and out to drinks… all courtesy of this sad/drunken/mystery girl.

I guess I'll never know... but I was been Anti-Mugged... and in a way it felt stranger than if someone mugged me. At least if you are mugged you know the rules. Shut up, hand over your wallet and whatever else they ask for, and wait for them to leave, call the cops if you are so inclined. But there are no rules for the reverse mug.

I still, almost 3 years later look for her and the Smirker in the doorway, wanting to ask them what had happened and if she was ok.

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