November 6th was an inspiring day full of optimism and hope that buoyed my spirit.  The nation and the world were celebrating the election of Barack Obama and all that fact embodied.  For me personally, the day was tinged with some negativity.

On the  Wednesday after the election, I was mugged coming home from work. I’m totally fine, the kid wasn’t violent or anything. He started walking behind me and then called out and he had a bandana over his face. Then I just said I was going home and started to turn into another houses driveway – about three houses from my own. He got in front of me – his hand under the front of his shirt as if he had a gun or something – and demanded what was in my pockets. I gave him $15 that I had right away. He was saying” I ain’t foolin with you” but he sort of was – he was young and I doubt now if he really had a weapon at all. Then he asked for my phone and I thought ” Oh great, I’ll just hand him my old, supremely jenky phone and he’ll take off,” but I had put it in my bag and I couldn’t find it in my pockets.

All I could find was my new phone that I had, that very day, set up.  I stalled for quite a while “looking” for my phone, which is why I think he didn’t really have a weapon because he surely would’ve pulled it out at that point.  Comically, I pulled out my keys at one point.  They were in my pockets after all.  I actually put them in his open hand.  But he didn’t close his hand and he just looked at them and I looked at them and then took them back, maybe mumbling “I guess you don’t want those”

Then he asked about my bag because I had my laptop bag with my work laptop in it (I went to the SF office on Wed, but was going to Davis on Thurs.) and I got to use a line from the Dude about it just being “business papers”.  He left it at that and I continued fumbling around for my phone.

Then, fortuitously and before I took my new phone out of my pocket, a neighbor came out of the house that we were right next to, three doors down from my place, and he says what’s going on? He was a big black guy. And the kid’s like” you know, just trying to get mine. you know” and the guys goes, “No, I don’t know. Time for you to bounce” and I was backing away from the kid the whole time.  he was starting to leave and then he (the kid-mugger) says to me “Turn around and start walking” and I said” Why don’t you just get out of here.” To this he replied “What?!” and started halfway to come back, but the big dude was like “get the F outta here” and so the kid turned back around, eventually breaking out into a run and was joined in fleeing by his friend who was waiting down the block.

So, the only thing he stole from me was the $15 and my sense of security in this neighborhood.  i never pulled my new phone out of my pocket.

All of this was at night, maybe 7:30 but definitely dark out bc of daylight saving time ending. The guy asked me if I was all right and I said yes. He said “I can’t believe he’d pull this shit after we just had this election” and it was so true but I couldn’t have said it, y’know?

We introduced ourselves and then he made sure I could get home safely.  I told him that I just live two or 3 doors down and then I went home, adrenaline still pumping, and told the whole thing to my roommate and her friend visiting from France.  Then I called the cop and gave the report and had a beer (okay, actually the beer was the first thing…)
I was a bit shaken up, but I think I’m really okay now.  It was just a strange experience made all the more disconcerting by the fact that the police officer who took my report said that this sort of thing happened increasingly towards the holidays.  He was surprised they had started this early.  It makes one think about moving or something drastic (mace?) but really I think it’s just a fact of life that I’ve been lucky to avoid in my pampered and comfortable life until now.  I’m just relieved he didn’t do anything stupid and punch/cut/shoot me.  Most of the time I am riding around on my bike when I’m there at night, which makes me a much harder target, I imagine.  So, in a way it’s not so frightening.  Plus, knowing that my neighbors are the type that would get my back is very reassuring.

There’s also the realization that into everyone’s life a little rain must fall.  I could almost be grateful that I’ve gone nearly 30 years without incident and with this being a minor incident at that.  Plus, there is the consideration that I should not be so attached to my possessions.  It’s absurd in hindsight that I didn’t want to give over my phone.  My phone was essentially free with my contract and probably could’ve been replaced at little to no cost. When one considers the casual atrocities committed the world over in the cover of night, each and every night, in every town or village, the power of this particular event to me personally seems ridiculous.  Still, it seems my CNS registered things just so, and that’s a difficult web to disentangle oneself from.

It really was a glorious day besides that. (The Wednesday after the election, heretofore known as Obama Day.) I was overwhelmed with a sense of camaraderie and fellowship with everyone I met.  There was just a spirit in the air, you know?  I’m going to put this behind me and focus on the good tidings of a Barack Obama era for our country.  Although, I had been thinking during the day that this election is totally going to make white people (or at least a certain class of them) think that they are black people’s “friends”, you know.  I have felt it myself, this unconscious reaction to seeing black people around and thinking “yeah, we did it!” when really there’s no “we” there; besides being strangers, I have no idea what their experience is like and my contribution to civil rights and equality is infinitesimal, if not entirely irrelevant.  It vaguely analogous to saying “I have a black friend” and I’ll bet dollars to doughnuts some black comedian is going to make fun of this phenomenon within a week.  That Senior Black Correspondent, Larry Wilmore, on the Daily Show is going to say, “Stop smiling at me, white folk. We’re not friends just cause you voted against Bush.”

Or maybe that’s jumping the gun in the race to be cynical.