Editorial Notebook

Growing mentally, physically from theft

My wallet was stolen. It was taken from my possession without warning or cause, and I did nothing to stop it. Although I am forced to admit my inability to react effectively in emergency situations, I also give credit to my thief. Whoever it was, he or she was a master in their art—and I can be honest about that. Now, this is not an open invitation to steal my things; in fact, I am ready to bite any and all future predators. I’ll let you decide if my last statement has any merit.

Let me paint a picture of how this happened. On a cold yet festive day in New York City, an unidentified individual grabbed my wallet from my bag strapped behind me. On my way out of the Bryant Park subway station, my reflexes were put into question. As soon as reality hit me, I was humiliated. I felt violated and personally attacked by what had just occurred. Now, I understand whoever stole my wallet didn’t know me and didn’t care. This wasn’t a personal offense. I was just another victim. But thinking about the event over and over again, I felt that it was aimed directly at me. Suddenly, I began to question my actions and my morals. Did I do something to deserve this?

I am no visitor to “the big city”—I have lived there for over a decade. Traveling home from middle and high school countless times, I have grown used to the smells and vibrant characters that enter and exit subway cars. I can go as far as saying that nothing else can surprise me. In fact, I’ve witnessed a woman frost a cake in a subway car and proceed to offer slices to passengers. I took pride in my independence—having the freedom to travel wherever I wished, on my own, since I was 13. Now, I’m scared. As if I didn’t already have trust issues, I now feel betrayed by my own city. Maybe I shouldn’t have gone around saying things like, “I’m tired of the City” or, “I don’t see myself settling back to the City after college.” Be careful what you say, kids—next thing you know, someone is after your wallet.

I’ve been forced to stop and think about my home and the people around me. I’ve always heard about crime in NYC and how important it is to be cautious of my surroundings. I’m thankful my crime was not violent and all that got hurt was my pride. But now I question my safety. It’s easy to disregard warnings people give. As careful as you are, sometimes there isn’t anything you can do to prevent life from taking its course. Maybe I was meant to experience this—it led to me buying a new wallet—and it’s pushed me to think twice about the people around me. Not to mention, it’s made me realize how important my family is to me. In that moment, I was left stranded. I had no money to get home and no desire to get back in the subway. It was my boyfriend and my family who supported me without question—and I cannot express how valuable that is.

What happened was bad, but there are worse things in the world. All I can pass along is a warning to not be as naive as I was. Learn from my mistakes and be aware of your surroundings. If you take nothing else from this story, remember this: keep your wallet close, but keep your loved ones closer.