I was already having a strange dream, involving a former professor of mine, at least one West Wing character, one NFL player, and a few faceless others in some sort of a combination heist/suspense drama.
And then I woke up to a woman screaming.
At first I was sure the sound had come from my dream and awoken me, nightmare style. But then I realized the sound had come from somewhere outside. But there are often people being loud outside, so I figured it was just someone being loud.
And then she screamed again, and shouted at the top of her lungs "HE STOLE MY PURSE!"
My heart raced, I picked up the phone and called 911, within minutes, I saw three different police cars come down my street...(and now a fourth...)....(and now a fifth!) I checked the clock - it was 6am, still dark, the first handfuls of working-folk leaving their apartments to walk their dogs or to head to the bus stop.
Maybe it really was "just" a "routine" purse-snatching. But from the way she screamed, it made me fear that she was in danger. Those close to me know why I'd be extra-sensitive to this. Also, as I made the decision to pick up the phone, I couldn't help but think of the story of the woman who was murdered outside her apartment building and screamed and screamed, but no one in the building called the police, because they all assumed someone else in the building was calling - the bystander effect. I'm glad I called. It feels a little silly, when I recount this story, because to you all who are reading this, it must sound bizarre that I reacted so quickly and fearfully to a purse-snatching. But if you had heard the way this woman screamed...you'd understand...
It's now 6:19, still dark, and more people are getting up and heading out to begin their day. A woman just walked past with her dog, a woman who probably has no idea what just happened. Part of me wants to shout out the window, "Be careful!" Part of me wants to tell them what happened and make sure that they are safe.
I'm a bit shaken. I fully understand that I live in the city, and that things like this do happen. I try not to take safety for granted. At the same time, one of the reasons that I love living where I do in the city is because I do feel safe in this neighborhood. Of course, this morning's episode makes me want to hide in my apartment all day and not go outside at all. It's funny, trying to balance irrational fear and naive hubris.
I like to go running these days. And I run by myself. And I always feel safe. That being said, I run where there are other people, during daylight hours. I was supposed to go running yesterday, but my plans for the afternoon changed. So I had planned on going running today, instead. Now I'm not so sure that's going to happen...
I have no plans to become a hermit. I have no plans to move. I have no real plans to be fearful beyond reason. But while the sky remains dark and I remain wide awake, I am more than happy to sit in my favorite chair, keep warily peeking out the window, and thank God for my safety while hoping and praying that this other woman is also safe and unharmed.