There are situations in life where, even though you're a part of them, they are hard to believe (as the famous Youtube video asks: “Is this real life?”).
And then there are situations where you almost crap your pants out of fear.
And then, as you're about to read, there are situations where you experience those both at the same time.
It was 2007, and young K-10 was in his first (and only) year of school in Edmonton at the University of Alberta.
It was about 9:30 p.m. in the evening, midweek, and I was walking on my way from my residence in the basement suite at a sorority house (that's a whole different column series that would be titled “Time Well Spent”) to the university that was less than a dozen blocks away.
That's when the pony-tailed, 18-year-old version of myself would get his first of two big city mugging experiences (although the second experience saw the assailant use a more conventional knife-wielding approach).
Anyway, as I walked toward the school something struck my upper shoulders from behind.
I turned to see a mid-20's man (whose breath odour indicated a
more-than-slight level of intoxication) staring me down.
I then looked toward his hands, where I presumed the strike to my upper shoulders had come from, to see the assailant holding a pair of shoes in each hand (apparently doing a poor man's
impersonation of Edward Scissorhands).
Confused with what just occurred (and concerned that the person may realize I have an expensive computer in my backpack), I turned and continued to walk (because turning your back on a random attacker is always the wise decision).
“Pow!” (1960's Batman reference).
I was hit again, this time over the back of the head.
I turned to face the person directly this time to see him gruffly request, “Give me your wallet”.
Being a naive 18-year-old from friendly Neepawa, Manitoba, the only response that came naturally was a sincere, “No, thank you”. I then turned and continued on.
“Smash!” (this column's now dedicated to Adam West).
The person hit me again, this time concerning me enough to turn and face him rather than to continue walking (fearing the figurative “Knife in your back” concept would become literal)(or, perhaps following last week's column, I suppose the 'literally' would become the 'literal').
“I don't think you understand. These are the shoes of the people who didn't give me their wallets,” the man reasserted.
“I'm not giving you my shoes,” a now completely confused younger version of myself responded (meanwhile, somehow amidst the fear, I was left wondering how he planned to carry another pair of shoes if I did indeed give him mine).
A four-soled punch to the chest.
“Give me your shoes or your wallet,” the man reiterated angrily (apparently not appreciating my lack of respect or fear for his shoe-inspired choice of weapon).
I then turned, continued to walk a ways with the man following me to the main street, before he left to the black of a back alley... but not before returning from the shadows to yell one more time from across the street (although I'm not exactly certain what he muttered this time).
And that's the story of the shoe-fetished thief (unfortunately, I'm not sure that this story has an underlying message like most columns try to sneak in (although if you plan to become a professional mugger I suppose you've at least learned what weapon not to use)).
So, until next week, when this story has created an irrational fear that leaves you checking over your shoulder at the shoe store as employees carry footwear to customers, keep a smile on your face, and I'll do the same.