I was maybe ten years old. I’d acted up in school again, and was thusly on a healthy punishment — which for me meant no TV, no playing outside, no video games.
And there were no smartphones in 1992. So yes, it was basically jail.
Good thing I liked reading.
My dad did allow me to walk to the store, where I planned to buy several magazines that would hold me over until my parole hearing release from punishment. I walked to Rite Aid, but on my way, three older — and bigger — guys crossed my path.
It was right in front of the Chinese Store on Sedgwick Ave in Mt Airy. One of the guys walked past me really close, not touching me, but close enough to seem kind of odd to me. My young mind, lacking much street smarts, noticed but dismissed it. I went to Rite Aid, bought $15 worth of magazines and candy, and absentmindedly walked back home along the same route.
The guys were still there, this time posted up on the corner in front of the Chinese store. The guy who’d brushed past me the first time intercepted me as I walked past, walking me to the area behind the store next to the dumpsters.
“Don’t ask no fucking questions. Don’t say nothing.”
He had a strong grip. He let go of me when we were out of sight of the busy Stenton Avenue.
“Gimme your money.”
I quickly yanked the change from my Rite Aid trip, which was a $5 bill and some loose change, from my pocket and handed it to him. He grabbed my pockets and searched my Rite Aid bag to make sure I really didn’t have anything else. Then he directed me to leave going a different way than where I’d come from.
I jogged home.
My dad later drove me back past the Chinese store twice that day. They weren’t there the first time. They were there about 3 Hours later. Dad talked to the guy while I waited in the car. Dad made him apologize to me.
I don’t condone robbing people. But I doubt this guy was reading self-help books or subscribing to email lists, and my dad’s talk probably didn’t keep the guy from doing it again to someone else. He was going to rob people, which is his choice.
And since that was his choice, he should’ve done it the first time.
Shit, $5 is barely enough for one person to eat. With $20, he could’ve fed his homeboys too. There was a KFC right next to the Chinese store.
The moral: if you’re gonna do it anyway, do it now.