When I started my first job back in 2003, I was living with my parents I drove from the south side of town to the north side everyday. One Friday, on my way home, I pulled off to get gas at the BP on North Avenue. It’s the most expensive gas in the city so I’m not sure why I pulled over. While finishing up at the tank, 2 college aged kids approached me and asked for a ride because their car broke down. My first thought was to say “no”, then I started thinking about being stuck in that situation, or my brother being in college, and how I would hope someone with a little extra time and a handful of compassion would help me out. So, I agreed. The guy sat in the passenger seat, while the girl sat in the back. They asked me to drop them off at Peachtree and Lenox.
An hour later I realized the my credit card was gone from my wallet. And that I had essentially dropped them off at Phipps Plaza to use it.
I tend to think that people are inherently good. And maybe that makes me a bit naive to the ways of the world.
One of the (many) things my mom talked to me about before coming to Uganda was her fear that I wouldn’t think things through. That I would live like nothing bad would happen to me. Her reason for thinking that is because it’s how I have lived my life for 32 years. I can’t blame her for thinking that.
Thursday after work, I decided to try out the Indian restaurant in town I’ve heard so much about -Khana Khazana. I had my boda guy take me and wait for me since I’d be in a part of town I wasn’t too familiar with. The food was amazing! It’s strange, but I have really fallen in love with Indian food…while in Africa?
After a quick dinner, I threw my backpack around me and latched the strap at my waist. I have never done that before. It was around 6:30 or so, and the sun was starting to set, so I knew I wanted to get home before it got much later. My boda guy started to head back.
I’m usually so overwhelmed while riding through town. There is so much to take in – the smells, the sights, the sounds. I am not longer nervous when we weave in and out of cars, as I have become comfortable here. I get caught of guard sometimes, that this is what my life looks like these days – and I can’t help but smile.
We slowed down as we got near a roundabout and traffic started. My boda guy walking the bike forward with the flow of traffic – surrounded by cars and taxis and people and bodas
That’s when I felt someone yanking on my backpack. Pulling as hard as a man can – the strap tightening around my waist, and my arms going back with the arm straps. When that wouldn’t come off, I saw a hand coming towards my face, and felt it wrap around my neck. Pulling back quickly, yanking my necklace off.
It happened so fast.
I sat stunned, and my boda guy turned his head asking what was going on. As he started to pull the bike to the side, through the tears, I begged him to “Go! Go! I want to get out of here!”
I knew I didn’t want to pull over to the side and cause a scene. I felt targeted and didn’t want to know what would happen next.
I cried the entire way home. Feeling violated. Scared. Confused. Aware that I was a foreigner. Feeling very far from everything that makes me feel safe.
I am fine. I had two scratch marks on my chest from his hand grabbing the necklace. The necklace wasn’t expensive. And again, I am fine.
I talked to my dad and Jim that night. I emailed some girlfriends to vent and ask for prayers.
As I laid in bed, with all the lights in the house on, my mind raced. I closed my eyes, crying, and praying to the Lord that he would take the fear, the anger, the feeling of helplessness away…and I feel asleep before I could finish that prayer.
I am more guarded when I leave my house. I carry my backpack around my chest/stomach now. I am not yet comfortable in crowds, or in traffic.
Maybe I am still naive – I still believe that people are good. It’s just that sometimes, we just cross paths with people who let us down.