Life in the Fast Lane


Trainway Robbery.

By 10:42 AM , , , , , , , , ,

Prior to Friday, I had never experienced being robbed. Aside from from a radio Barbie watch that I lent (and never saw again) to a classmate in the first grade, I was robbery-free.

Until that day.

It seemed to be one of those normal workdays, except it was a payday. So it came as no great surprise that during my walk to the nearest train station, I had to bump elbows with more people who were chasing after a mall sale.

While lining up on the train platform, I expected to ride maybe after three or four trains had passed, given the number of people. But surprisingly, when the second train arrived, I was able to get in.

Inside, it was full. As expected. The kind of full that resembles sardines packed into a tiny can; the kind in which you throw the concept of personal space out the window. Almost every square centimeter within that train was occupied.

I found a spot under one of the hanging handlebars. Gripping my lunchbag and bag of badminton rackets (which I purchased for my brother and me; we were thinking of playing badminton sometime soon) with my left hand, my right one was free to hold onto the handlebar.

The strap of handbag, meanwhile, hung over my right shoulder.

And off we went. Everything seemed normal. At some point during the ride home, though, something made me check if my things were intact because of the sheer number of people coming in and exiting the train.

My lunchbag was still there and so was the bag carrying the badminton rackets. I looked over to the right side and my heart started to pump overtime.

The zipper of my leather brown bag was wide open.

Alarmed, I looked inside my bag. The inner pocket, where I normally keep my gadgets, had also been unzipped.

I stuck my hand inside and rummaged through the contents. My wallet was there, and so were my makeup case, the pouch of my glasses, my iPod Touch (which had tumbled out of the inner pocket, I realized), my brush.

My cellphones, however, were gone. I quickly zipped up my bag and shoved it in between my knees. (Never mind the fact that I had rammed my elbows against the women beside me in the process. I couldn't risk anything else being stolen.)

When it dawned on me that I had been robbed, my knees started to buckle. I couldn't make sense of what was happening anymore. I felt dizzy, I could barely feel my hand holding onto the handlebar, my heart was racing, I couldn't see anything but a blurry mess of stars and streaks of light.

For more than ten minutes, I was like this. I remember wanting to faint (though I'd never fainted before), but I kept telling myself not to. Thankfully, my subconscious managed to prevent me from doing so and I got off at the right stop. 

That day, I had not only been robbed for the first time. I had also experienced my first-ever honest-to-goodness panic attack.

I'm just thankful that these were material objects that could be replaced (as of this writing, I'm poorer, but no longer unaccessible) and that nothing happened to me, per se. Since there were so many people in that train, I could've been held at knifepoint or gunpoint easily.

Also, while traumatized because of this incident (I'm not planning to take the train home first), I know better next time. I'm going to take extra precaution to make sure my valuables are more secure.

Have you ever experienced being robbed? It's one of the most unnerving feelings in the world. Whether the item taken from you is a big one or a small one, or something to do with your personhood, or maybe even something abstract like an idea, it devalues you. It makes you feel vulnerable and violated.

Honestly, when that happened, I questioned humanity. I had to wonder for the nth time in my existence, why anyone would stoop so low and take something that doesn't belong to her (yes, it's a "her" because I was in the female coach; thievery knows no gender). What drives anyone to do such a thing? Desperation? Pure evil? Hopelessness?

I then realized that while I was robbed, I shouldn't let this person rob me of my joy. In that instance, I still managed to hear God's voice and a particular verse came to mind:

"So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy."
(John 16:22)

The verse may pertain to a different context, but it made sense to me at the time. I had bigger things to be thankful for and I didn't want to let this woman get to me; for starters, I was safe and I had no reason to rob somebody. If only for that, I thanked the Lord for providing for me and for making sure I'd be okay.

Don't get me wrong, though. I'm still sad, still heartbroken over the loss of my phones (which I really — and I mean, really — saved up for), and still angry because I believed in the innate goodness of humanity and was let down. And I still replay in my head over and over again how I felt during my panic attack.

But like most downfalls in life, I will emerge from this wiser, more experienced, and hopefully with more compassion towards others in similar situations.

Stay safe, everyone!

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  1. Oh nooo Tina sorry for this misfortune! :( I know how you feel -- I've had two bags slashed and been robbed of my phones three (THREE!!!) times when I was there. I got the whole clammy hands and sick to my stomach sensation each time.

    But at least you're safe, so that's a good thing. :)

    Praying this is the first and last time this incident happens to you! :)

  2. Hey, Myra!

    Ouch! Slashed bags? Thank God that hasn't happened to me yet. Scary!

    Hope things are much safer over there (and I have a feeling they are). Take care, too! God bless you!

  3. Wow, that was a fast one indeed. At least you weren't held-up at knifepoint or something. I've had my necklace snatched while I was riding a jeepney and it all happened in a split second. It was only minutes after that I felt like crying out of helplessness to prevent that incident from happening. And yes, I hope this is the first and last incident for you ever. Stay safe, Tina!

  4. Hey, Rose!

    Wow, a necklace? That really bites. It's so scary to think that you can't trust people around you anymore. :(

    Be safe! Take care yourself!

  5. I was stolen in the MRT before too. My mobile phone was taken. I agree with what you wrote here, I also started questioning the motives of people and what would drive them to blatantly disrespect other people by just taking from them.

    I love the Philippines a lot, but that was one of the times that I thought that the Philippines gives us no reason some times to feel any sort of affection for its people.

    I was reminded that everything is temporary.

    I hope you're doing better now!
    God bless you!

  6. Hi, nariness!

    So sorry to hear that you, too, were a victim of theft. Makes me feel bad for the Philippines. How can the situation be so bad that our countrymen have to resort to stealing from their kababayan, right?

    Praying that you'll be spared from similar instances in the future. Take care and God bless! Thanks for dropping by!


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