This morning, I didn't go directly to work. I had a couple of errands to run in Midtown so I took a detour from work.
My appointment was on time, if lengthy, but I came out happy and feeling optimistic. One of my errands just didn't happen.
So, this morning, I took the bus up to the Golden Suburb. Public transportation here, just isn't. It's private, communal transportation really. Which might explain the lack of standards and the haphazard nature of it all.
This morning, I spent a good third of the ride on some accomodating stranger's lap. He was very kind and respectful but I still felt compelled to drape my upper half over the back of the bench in front of me.
This morning, it turns out, I was not only sitting on a stranger but I was actually, and more importantly, sitting next to an armed homicidal thief.
It happened when the bus stopped at the last big intersection halfway between the two cities. I was texting so I don't recall all the details. Except when I looked up, this guy got on the bus while that man, my former seatmate, was shouting directives from the door. I didn't see the gun but others did. One had on a brown shirt, the other had a striped polo.
When the victim, sitting directly in front of me, resisted, Striped Polo said to Brown Shirt "Just kill the bitch and grab the fucking bag". The victim's neighbor, a cool-headed lady, threw the bag to the thieves. They both got down, climbed onto a motorcycle and drove off with a last angry glare at us all.
Some of the passengers told the victim to go back to the bank and ask the director to get her money back, convinced as they were that the teller must be in on it. Others thought she should go to the police. I told her to get the police and go to the bank. Brown Shirt, in a random act of kindness, had flung back at her feet the bible in which she'd hidden the US dollar cash withdrawal she had just made.
This morning, I rushed home in a daze and burst into tears recounting the event because this man, this armed and cold-blooded stranger sitting next to me, plotting this crime, was both willing and able to kill this woman for money. In front of me. Inside a bus full of regular people, squeezed in tight and dripping with sweat now that the tropical heat had defeated these past weeks of rain. At 9h30 in the morning, on a busy thoroughfare.
I spent the day with a lingering headache. You see, I was supposed to go to the bank myself. Maybe not to take out thousands of dollars in cash but I do unfortunately "look like money" as the other guy once said.
This morning, I was reminded of how exposed and alone we are in the face of crime in this city.
This morning, we all walked away alive if shaken and scared.
But what about tomorrow?