My Mugging

Posted by Andrew |

So to some of you in recent years I have commented that I have been surprised and oddly disappointed through all my years of travel that I've never faced any crazy incidences such as natural disasters, hospital stays, muggings or general events outside the pace of normal life. While presumably these events are terrifying and awful at the time; with the salve of time and a return home, they inevitably make a great story best told over a Christmas dinner table with family or a pub night with friends.

Today on this cold rainy evening in northern Portugal, my luck has changed.

I arrived in Portugal a few days ago and have spent the last 5 days endlessly treading the streets of Lisbon and Porto, sipping fine wines and portos, meeting groups of Brazilians and Portuguese and having a rather enjoyable vacation before returning east to meet my brother in Sofia, Bulgaria in a few days.

Taking a break from Porto this morning, I hopped a train to the nearby town of Guimaraes, the recently acclaimed 2012 European City of Culture. The weather has been a bit overcast with intermittent rain; however, the greenery of it all makes the foul weather enjoyable (as does the respite from the heat of Dubai). I walked the streets for a few hours, taking in the old city, enjoying a meal of Portuguese seafood and trouncing through old castles, parks and streets paved (cobbled?) with cobblestones.

After the enjoyable day excursion, I caught an early evening train back to Porto, the second largest city in Portugal, where I am staying for the night. Arriving in Portugal around 7:30pm, I began the 10 minute walk from the centrally placed train station to my hostel which is just up the hill following a well lit and traversed main thoroughfare.

Casually walking with a book in hand and bundled in a winter coat and scarf, a guy approaches me and asks for some money. Now mind you, this shopping street has a fair amount of people walking up and down and several stores lining the path. I dig in my wallet and remove the change I have accumulated, a not so whopping 1.40 Euros, but conversely, not the smallest sum one could give a guy who is holding a bread roll and asking for money for food. Here's a quick replay of the conversation:
Me: Here you go (I start slowly walking on)
Him: No, give me 5 Euros, I see that you have it.
Me: I just gave you money.
Him: No, give me 5 Euros, I'll give you change (He pulls out the 1.40 I gave him, plus an additional euro or so)
Me: No, sorry.

At this point, I start walking on a bit hoping someone else will catch his attention. However, the stream of pedestrians seems to have cleared up.
(He walks with me)

Him: I don't want to rob you man.
Me: I don't want you to rob me either. Why would you rob me? I just gave you money.
Him: Come on, give me 5 euros. (at which point he pulls out some sort of half-inch knife... now I use the emphasis, as this knife appears to be some sort of dull butter knife attached to a key chain.

I pause a bit, realizing that I am sort of being mugged, but also appraising this 5 foot homeless man in front of me who certainly could not keep up if I ran away, holding a knife that if he were to stab me through my warm winter coat would cause some mild discomfort at best. I keep walking and talking a bit, trying to stall for time a bit with the expectation that some more pedestrians will come by and he will melt away.

Him: Come on, give me 5 euros, I'll give you change. I just want to eat.
Me: No, sorry. I gave you money and now I'm pissed off that you want to rob me too. Go ask someone else for money, there are lots of people around.
Him: Yeah, but they aren't giving me money.
Me: So I was nice enough to stop and actually give you some money, and now you want to take more money from me?

I walk on a bit further, at which point he stands in front of me, but has put his key chain butter knife away.

Him: 5 euros, I'll give you change.
Me: No, I gave you money

At this point I'm getting pissed off, but still finding the situation to be oddly funny and a bit unnerving as well (after all, it is my first mugging)

Him: Come on man, I don't want to rob you.
Me: Don't rob me. I'm sorry, but I gave you money and I'm not giving you any more as I had to work for this money (some pedestrians get closer).
Him: Ok

He walks away and asks the new pedestrians for money. I walk up the street to my hostel laughing.... yet looking over my shoulder to make sure the midget Portuguese homeless man is not chasing me with a brandished butter knife key chain.


Karl said...

Great story Andrew, thanks for sharing! Enjoy Portugal and Bulgaria.

Tariq said...

Hmmm sorry to hear however it ended with you safe, so you are alright after all. Enjoy Sofia with your twin