Ed. Note – Mom, don’t worry. I promise I’m safe.
It finally happened. They got physical.
After a wonderful New Years Eve packed with grooves and booze at Wonderland, KFB and I decided to make our way to Tryst for brunch and some chill time. About 4 hours later, with our stomachs full of quiche, waffles, and coffee, we finally got ourselves off their plump couches for a stroll down 18th St. As one might expect, we made a few stops along the way. First for a little snack and Amsterdam Falafel, then a little browsing at one of the Tibetan shops. You could say it was a typical, peaceful trip to Adams Morgan.
After poking around for a bit, we decided it was time to pick up a bottle of wine and cook some dinner. Unfortunately it wasn’t that easy. As we walked out of the store, we were met by two guys harassing another at the bottom of the steps leading to the sidewalk. Since they were blocking our way, we were forced to stop and wait until they finished. My first thought was that they were about to fight, but the victim was smiling a little and clearly not trying to cause trouble. He made his way through the guys, and kept walking. I decided everything was fine and walked down to the sidewalk. Immediately one of the guys jumps up in my face yelling some gibberish. I really didn’t know what he was saying, or asking for, but he clearly wanted something. My thoughts immediately went to trying to figure out where the second guy was. I looked back up the stairs to make sure he was not headed towards KFB, and saw that she was quickly getting out of the way back up towards the store. I find the second guy behind me, but he isn’t saying anything. At this point I’m stuck between two huge dudes and beginning to freak out, but I keep my calm, repeating, “excuse me, we are just trying to get by.”
For me, it quickly turned from a fright to a real scare when the first guy grabs my arm with one hand, and raises a travel coffee mug above my head with the other. He yells, “how much money do you have?!” Not knowing what else to do, I just kept saying “excuse me, we are just trying to get by.” Man, violently waving coffee mug, “How much money do you have?!” Me, “Excuse me sir, just trying to get by.” He then lets go, and says something about his hand. I use this opportunity to make my way out between some parked cars and towards the street. They keep yelling something, but quickly get distracted by another man walking down a near by ally. That guy quickly gets out of the way, and the two crazies finally continue walking down 18th St. I look up to KFB and signal that it is OK to come down, we quickly run across the street to safety. From there, we watch the two men greet the next people they see the exact same way.
Shaken up and still scared, we decide to call 911 since it seems they are going to do this to more people. A few minutes later, as we are walking in the opposite direction, I see the flashing lights.
Thankfully nothing happened. I still have my wallet, and neither of us got hurt. But it left us both really shaken up. All we could think about is what we would have done if something did escalate further. I’ve had people yell things at me in the street before, but this was the first time anyone has gotten physical in DC. Even though it was just an arm grab, touching and waving the mug took it to the next level. Should I have tried to push back? Probably not, since both of the guys were twice my size and had me sandwiched between them. KFB had her phone ready the whole time, should she have called or yelled for help? Maybe, but what if they did have weapons, that would have surely caused them to use them.
I’m not the kind of guy to worry about this stuff often, but it hits home when it is somewhere that you normally feel safe (well, aside from the typical 2:30 am belligerent ex-frat boys that usually hangs out in AdMo), especially in the early evening. Makes you realize you never know when something will happen. I guess all we can do is be prepared, or at least bring a change of pants…