I had a meeting with a peer of mine today. We discussed our business wishes and passions. About an hour into our visit as we sat visiting in the outdoor area of our local coffee shop, a 20-30 year old male who was loitering right behind us (6’2″-6’4″, 250-300 lbs., dark brown, closely cropped/shaved hair, big, dark brown eyes, lumbering, olive looking skin, clean shaven) came up from behind my friend and with his right arm, scooped up her purse. After a split second of his realization that he achieved his purse-swiping goal, he broke out into a run through the parking lot, working his way to the opposite major thoroughfare and around the corner.
From the moment we witnessed this surreal act of him stealing my friend’s purse and running away from where we had been seated, my sweet, tall, beautiful, strong female friend ran after this guy to get her purse back. And as she mouthed, “He’s got my purse…,” I started screaming out loud for ALL to hear…”HE’S GOT HER PURSE!…HE’S GOT HER PURSE!…HE’S GOT HER PURSE!…HE’S GOT HER PURSE!…HE’S GOT HER PURSE!”…for anyone that would listen, because I was yelling loud enough for all to hear. I couldn’t believe I was yelling that loud! I was slightly embarrassed, but I instinctually started screaming. I started to observe my voice was becoming increasingly louder so even this older woman at the far corner of the lot, where the thief was about to run past, could hear. I yelled out to her the loudest, “HE’S GOT HER PURSE,” hoping that she would stick out her foot or arm and stop him in his tracks. At that moment, I noticed that at least six or more men of all ages and ethnicities were chasing after the purse snatcher with my friend. When they got to the opposite side of the building at the entrance to another major street, the group caught the perp and took him down.
My friend got to give her reaction to the purse snatcher as four of the men held him down while the thief STILL held onto her purse. She let him know that what he did was “F***KED UP!” He called her an unladylike name, she kicked him in his face, one of the men stopped her from taking it any farther, she got her purse out of his hand, and they released the guy with no cops or citizen’s arrest. He took off across the street and down an alley.
What I witnessed today was amazing. An act that could have taken a very negative turn was instead an act of inspiration representing community. It proved that humanity can be good, even when it can be bad. I was moved by how many people stepped up and got involved. I was proud to witness fearlessness and even prouder that everyone felt a sense of responsibility to GET involved. It gives me chills even writing about it. I am truly moved. The purse was recovered and we all returned to the coffee shop with our adrenaline running through our briskly beating hearts. People proudly shared their experience, the guys that took our table while we were in “the chase” offered our table back (we declined graciously), and at that moment, the entire “inside community” of the coffee shop turned and looked at the two of us. We gave them a thumbs up and a huge “THANK YOU! and “A BIG SHOUT OUT TO ALL!…THANK YOU!” as everyone cheered. Thank you for being so neighborly, people.
The last thing I want to share is that I was carrying a purse that I refer to as “my bag” during this event. I was not wearing “my bag” while we were sitting, I had taken it off my body and had tied it onto the arm of my chair, closest to the inside wall of the coffee shop farthest away from the walkway. My instincts always lean towards keeping it close to me, even if I have to wear it. I think it’s not so much what I thought or did, but what we all need to think and do, paying attention to our surroundings. Also, it feels like it is desperate times for many, and desperate times cause people to act inappropriately, stealing things that aren’t theirs with no sense of consequence—even in the most unobvious of ways. Today reminded me that we all…our mothers, daughters, wives, friends, and the men in our lives who also carry bags/items out and about…whomever is out in the public…is vulnerable to all. We all must stay present and listen to our gut, decide how we feel about our environment, and know what we need to do in the moment. We should never abandon that feeling. My friend was sensing something like this was going to occur, unbeknownst to me, and it did. She listened to her gut and acted accordingly. I’m grateful I opened my mouth and screamed…now I know what I’d do in such an event. When we are there for each other and work together for the better good, good can come of it in the end. Stick to your gut, be your truth, treat others as you would want to be treated, and act accordingly, with honor, humility, and humanity. It works when we work with it, in this case—when we work with each other.