And to think, the only time I remember being robbed outright was back in 2006 when I was still studying in Ateneo and while I was with my blockmates, my laptop was stolen. Considering that I’ve lived in China for over a year and a half, this is the first time that someone has attempted to rob me. There is a small lingering doubt about the incident in my head, almost like I can’t believe that it happened so it must have been false, but instinct tells me otherwise.
Last Saturday evening, after dinner at a sushi restaurant and some bazaar shopping with my friend, we decided to head home to call it a night. As we were making our way to the bus stop (中山路站 – Zhong Shan Lu stop), me and my friend were in a deep conversation about a lot of things. In my left hand, I held a shopping bag. My right hand was somewhere near my hand bag. As we were already by the bus stop, I readied myself for any incoming buses headed towards the school by turning to my bag to take out my bus card. With the bag I was wearing at the time, I usually keep the bus card by the front pocket for easy access, but since my friend noted earlier that evening that the button seemed to be coming off. Instead of just feeling for the card like I usually do, I decided to look at my bag while I was taking it out. It was at that moment that I noticed that my bag’s zipper was already 1/3 of the way open. What’s more, I noticed a hand pull away and a man who was close behind me ducking behind the advertisement board.
I immediately told my friend that I thought I had almost been robbed.
There was a slight fear I suppose, fear of losing my money, my photos and calling cards (my friends who’ve seen my wallet know that I put a ton of calling cards and photos in it); but more than the fear, I was appalled and angry. Until now, part of me is playing back that incident in my head, wondering what I could have done to attract that sort of low-life. I can’t help but wish I could go back to that time so I could grab that man’s hand and shout out for the police to come since he was attempting to rob me. Then again, in my poor Mandarin, how would I be able to explain the whole situation. As I said, part of me wonders if I was just imagining it at all. What’s worse, would the locals think I was making the entire thing up and would they side with the guy? I’ve heard stories of bad things happening to foreigners and how the local police are somewhat biased against foreigners. Does being part Chinese and looking something like a local count for anything, or would I be accused of slander or something because I confronted someone who tried to steal from me.
In any case, I am quite thankful that nothing happened to me. Had I grabbed his hand (and he really did try to rob me), would he have hurt me? Was he carrying a knife or some sharp object? Knowing me, I’m quite hard-headed and incident can’t help but piss me off. Idly standing by while knowing that he could prey on some other person, especially another foreigner, is something that I can’t stand. But it’s all over, and I am just thankful that it’s in the past.
Even if I can’t go back and re-do what I could have done, I hope that I won’t forget to stay vigilant (whether in China, back home in the Philippines, or anywhere else I might go to) of my belongings and to at times, know when not to act upon my instincts. Hopefully, someone out there who reads this will also be made aware of this kind of occurrence in Xiamen.
As my friends and I used to tell ourselves when we were still living in Beijing, 包在前面是你的，包在后面是别人的 (A bag placed at your front is yours, bags placed behind your back belongs to others).