I tell this story for the lesson learned. It was terrifying. It was stressful. There was no ego involved. And I’m not looking for benefits or praise by writing this. Rather, I’m writing to share the experience and the method that likely saved our lives during a mugging.
A few years ago, the rugby team I played for, CRFC, traveled to Chicago in the fall to play a division match. It was my second season back after a knee reconstruction, and I was the only scrum-half on the team at the time. This meant that I was getting a lot of play-time, and at the Men’s Division 1 level that means running to the tune of 5 miles a game. So, I was pretty knackered after the hard-fought battle.
The girl I was dating at the time traveled with me to the big city, and because I had Platinum status with Marriott from work, I got us a room downtown on Michigan Avenue. We went for a nice Italian dinner and then out to the bars. For a while, we partied with the team and eventually made our way to a bar where a super-hot highschool friend of mine was bartending, and stayed there till closing. Chicago’s 4am bar closing time was wracking my energy reserves, but we were having a blast.
When the lights came on at the bar it was time for our drunk-asses to get moving. I was browning out at this time, and the girlfriend was worse-off. In fact, she was so drunk she couldn’t walk, so I threw her on my back and started trecking back to the hotel. I would have ordered an Uber, but our phones died, and none of the cabs would stop. So, there I was, trudging along the mile-long route with my taller-than-me girlfriend dead on my back.
By the time we made it to Michigan Ave., I’m not sure I’ve ever been more tired. In fact, as soon as I crossed the street, I stubbed my foot on a chippy sidewalk panel and tripped hard. We spilled to the dirty concrete and took a few bumps just as a white, early 2000’s, mini-van passed us. There were men in it hooting and hollering, catcalling, and yelling some awful shit at us. I’m not sure if I yelled back at them to fuck off or not, but just as I looked up from putting the girlfriend back on my back I saw the van pull over on our side of the street about 30 yards in front. The van stopped on the same side as us and in the direction of the hotel we were headed to.
Five men quickly got out of the vehicle, and 4 of them stood in front of us as the fifth one walked around the bus stop that I had propped my incoherent girlfriend against. They were all wearing jeans and various t-shirts. Some had jackets, but the most distinguishing attribute about them was their New Zealand accents.
Every Kiwi I’ve played rugby with, or against, has been of utmost character, and I’ve loved all of them. But, back in 2009 I had a run-in with a couple of Kiwis in Thailand that was an awful experience, so I was already preparing myself for some rough-and-tumbly.
I was freaking out. They were all lifting their shirts to show me that they did, or didn’t have guns. The volume of my voice may not have ever been louder as I yelled at them; trying to bring attention to our predicament. If I was going to get my ass kicked, I wanted to make sure the girlfriend would be safe. Unfortunately, it was almost 5am and no one was outside aside from these 5 and their victims, us.
It seemed logical to me to keep my focus on the 4 guys that stood in front of us, and hope the 5th guy just fucked off. He did not. With a blinding sensation, I recoiled from a blind sucker punch to my temple and ear region by the 5th guy who had circled behind us. He hit me so hard that it exploded the cartilage in my left ear instantly. You can still feel the scar tissue today from the healing process.
The blow made me take a step sideways. Somehow, with the adrenaline and the fight-emotions/reactions running through my body, I did not get knocked out or knocked down. I raised my head slowly and stared at the assailant. I stared for a solid 20 seconds without saying or doing a thing. I then looked at the other 4 where the 5th one had joined and stared at them for another 30 seconds silently. No one said a thing.
I finally asked calmly, yet aggressively, “who’s next?”
Their mouths went agape, and they retired to their shitty van while telling me I was “nuts”.
When they had driven off, I breathed and put the sack of potatoes, that was the girl I was dating, back on my back and carried her to the hotel room. Passing out on that bed was maybe the best feeling of rest in my entire life. That glorious bed. The next morning when we woke up, I asked if the girlfriend remembered anything. Nope
Again, I tell this story because I want to pass on what I learned from this situation. A few key principles in a mugging situation:
1) In case you get hurt, try to draw attention to the scene before something happens.
2) Most of the time people are just as scared as you are, so if you act crazy, there is a strong possibility that you will freak them out and they will fuck off.
3) To get through it, make sure to stand up and be ready to fight until you die (strong and brave) for you and those you care about.
Have you got any related stories that you might be able to share some insight from? Maybe some strategies or principles?