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monday evening

after eight years in new york it finally happened. we got mugged. it was different than i imagined. i never imagined it happening in the daylight. i never imagined a mugger in his 40s. and i never imagined it happening while my kids played games around our feet.

i stared at his painted-on beard, at the upper lip filling the gaps where his teeth should have been, at his long brown coat, at the half smoked cigarette in his left hand as his right held the partially concealed revolver. he needed money. he had kids. he loved kids. our kids were beautiful. he didn't want to hurt them. he didn't want to shoot us. but he had $900 rent due. he needed $900. he wouldn't go to a shelter. he wouldn't put his kids on the street. he needed $900. please. he didn't want to kill our kids. he loves kids. 

i searched my pockets. i had $0.75, maybe $0.80. i had a $20 watch. i took it off and handed it over. he didn't want change. he needed $900. what were we going to do for him? he had no choice. i fished some more. another quarter. chip shifted charlie and pulled out his wallet. i stared at that beard. was it shoe polish? was it a disguise or just to look good? was that gun real? it looked too small to be real. i was calm. i calmly told him to chill out. but i was also irritated, really irritated. chip handed over the wallet, empty of cash, full of credit cards and id's. i wanted the id. he would mail it to us. i wanted to get it now, i didn't think he didn't need my husband's license. he'd put it in the mail. i persisted. he raised his voice. don't push it, lady. i didn't. my hands went up. he told us to go to our apartment. "go inside mama." he didn't want to hurt no one. he just wanted to go. we just wanted it to be over. it finally was. 

i went inside to cancel credit cards. chip pulled out his phone to call 911. "no! you only call 911 if there's an emergency!" eve cried. they had no idea what had just happened as they giggled and played and we talked with the man in the doorway.

i always imagined being scared, too scared to scream, too scared to think. but i wasn't. strangely, i was not scared at all, only irritated. maybe because chip was at my side or maybe because the man kept shifting his body so the girls wouldn't see the gun. maybe because he seemed affected, almost tortured when he first saw eve's face. maybe i believed him. or maybe i've been in new york long enough. or maybe i just couldn't believe what was happening, that his man was mugging a family of five, my family of five. 

police came, chip went to the precinct, detectives were assigned. i dreamt about him all night and awoke remembering every detail of his face. i left to the suburbs for a happily pre-planned overnight stay. chip got a call at work. a kind stranger found his wallet and called his credit card companies to contact him. everything was there, except the metro card and his driver's license. maybe the mugger put it in the mail after all. or maybe he took it out to spite me. . . who knows. 

how's that for heavy fare? but, after the many many talks with the girls about the choices we make, taking responsibility for those choices and controlling our emotions, we're back to our usual business. . . like making a scarf in commemoration of our group mugging experience. one four inch wide strip cut from black and white striped knit and wrapped around neck. not one stitch of sewing. i'm certain i made this in less time than the mugging lasted. . and don't worry, the girls don't know what this is "in memory of," that's my little secret. . .

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Reader Comments (50)

yikes katie! i am so sorry that happened to you and the family. i am so glad you are okay! what a nightmare.

February 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterErin

This is such a fear of mine. It seems you handled it with grace. i am so happy you all are safe.

February 19, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterpaula

I am so sorry that happened to you and your beautiful family. I just recently moved to the city and I am always scared this will happen. and it's only going to get worse in this economy, I suppose. I hope things get better for him. Best wishes.

February 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRhonda

my goodness, that's just awful. i can't believe someone could do that to anyone, let a family. i'm in awe of the way you handled it and are talking about it - i'd like to think i'd act that the same way, but deep down am sure i'd lose the plot. sending positive thought waves your way...

February 19, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterbelinda

I am so, so sorry that happened to you and your beautiful family. So glad you are all well.

Thanks for all the inspiration your journal provides - it helps me to savor my own sweet family life all the more!


February 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKateB

Oh gosh, Katie I read this and had to fight back tears because just imagining you and chip and the kids in a bad situation is horrifying. i hate that the world has tortured souls and scary situations and kids exposed to it. thankfully, your kids didn't have big trauma around it. it's so fitting and like you that you felt irritation and not freak out fear. love you guys.

February 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPatria

oh kaite, i am so sorry that happened. thank goodness your girls didn't know what was going on, that might have been hard for them to get over. we are glad you are all ok. i hope his image won't "irritate" your dreams for too long.

February 19, 2009 | Unregistered Commentershiloh donkin

Can I tell you that my first reaction, besides my heart dropping and feeling nauseous, was "I HATE that!" And "that" included what happened to you and you living so far away and in a big city. Perhaps not all rational reactions, but heartfelt nonetheless. I don't dare tell your father right now!

February 19, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermom

i still can't believe that he did it in front of the kids.. and thoroughly impressed that you held it together. I guess we never know what we will be like in a situation like that.. And the painted on beard? Maybe you can "steal" that idea and dress up as a robber for halloween sometime. (i'm sorry- I had to. I don't know why but I had to)

February 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMegan

wow, i think you handled it really well. i'm of course glad you are ok, but especially glad your kids are largely unaffected by it.

February 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPam

kaite, only you would be irriatated and not scared...how i love your ballsiness...is that a word. i heart you.

February 19, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterbrie stott

Wow! What is this world coming to that people are mugging familys now!? YOU are very brave. So glad your family is safe.

February 20, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterGinny

Oh man.. I'm so sorry. Please don't argue with anyone else who tries to take your money. I love you for it, but man.. I am trying not to think of all the things that could have happened to you. Love you guys.

(Please move to California now)

February 20, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterbrooke

This was so upsetting to read. I hate that someone would do that to anyone, let alone a sweet little family of five. So glad you guys are okay.

February 20, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterStacy R.

Wow, what a horrible experience. Good for you for handling it so well, what a service to your kids. What pisses me off is that he targeted a family, children and all. Hopefully, that guy will be able to get himself some real help so this doesn't happen again - and maybe to someone who isn't as collected as you were.

February 20, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterHaven

What a strange happening, that is not how I would've imagined a mugging either. Thank goodness you are all okay, but I understand how you were more irritated than scared, who is he to act like his needs are more important than the needs of you and your family?

February 20, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterStacey

Katie! That sounds torturous! So glad you are safe!

The gall of some people. There were children there for pity's sake. Not at all how I would imagine a mugging, but terrifying all the same.



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February 20, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRachel

That's traumatic! To stand there and know you have to keep your composure or you and your family could be hurt; my gosh. What a brave/inspired/protected mommy and daddy you are....Even as you write about this event, there is compassion in your voice but I imagine at some point feelings of compassion will turn to anger.
I'll bet your guardian angels need to take a little rest now. Love to you and your dear family.

February 20, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDarlene Anderson

Katie, Katie, Katie!, What great control you had as did Chip! Your Kids were terrific as well. Your Heavenly Father was watching over you for sure! I sent you an email thru "Mom" and you'll get it soon. Much, Much LOVE from us all! JazJaz

February 20, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJaz

wow--what an unbelievably intense experience--so scary and surreal. glad you and chip and your babies are okay. you handled it with amazing grace. hope that the dreams abate. kids are the best catalysts for how life goes on after something bad happens--they are resiliency personified with out even knowing it. be well and be safe.


February 20, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterEva

Sherri told me about this post. I am so relieved you are all okay. How absolutely terrifying. Hope the memories fade and the dreams stop. We will pray for your peace and continued safety.

February 20, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMonica

Oh dear. I'm so sorry this happened, and so impressed with how well you all handled it. Hope that the license finds you soon. I totally relate to the story and the emotions you felt, reminds me of when we found the intruder/robber in our kitchen. I just hope that the images can erase themselves soon, it's not fun to carry those around with you. Lots of love to you and your family. You should come spend a long weekend in DC!

February 20, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterdc riches

I am so relieved to know you guys are okay.... what a scary experience.... but...talk about turning lemons into lemonade.... should I be laughing at this jailbird scarf you made in commemoration? ;-/]

February 20, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterroxy

Thanks for sharing...no sew projects are therapy sometimes...hugs to all.

February 20, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnnalisa

Unbelievable Katie! That was so intense just reading it I can't believe how you must have truly felt in the moment especially with your little ones there. I hope you never have to go through that again, but wow the control you had in that moment. I am so glad everything is okay!!

February 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterHolly

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