Unfortunately, it wasn’t in the ‘ref-made-a-bad-call’ sort of way, but in the ‘someone snatched my phone out of my hands and ran away’ sort of way.
I was walking to Oliver’s school to pick him up today, and I was talking on the phone to my mom. The walk home from school (when I’ve dropped Oliver off) and to school (when I’m picking him up) is the best time I have to call people, because Hazel is usually napping or having quiet time in the stroller, and I can talk relatively uninterrupted.
We crossed the street at a traffic light and passed by a busstop. A bunch of kids often wait out there for the bus after school, and I have never thought anything of it. I usually have my guard up around them, because it’s a lot of kids, and the school that they go to is where the bad kids get sent when they get expelled from their regular school. Usually the owner of the bar on the corner is outside watching over things.
Today I walked by, and was holding on to my phone for that reason. I kept walking, and got far enough away that I wasn’t paying close attention anymore. All of a sudden, two guys ran up on either side of me, snatched my phone out of my hands, yanked the earbuds out of my ears, and turned around and ran.
I was shocked, obviously. I didn’t know what to do, so I did the only thing I could do with a young kid in tow–I started screaming. I hollered that I was robbed, that they stole my phone, that someone should call the police, and I just screamed and screamed. I saw people sort of coming out of the woodwork, but it seemed like everyone was moving in slow motion, except the perpetrators.
Someone said that they got onto the bus that was coming by, and four men–of all different races, it was like a Willie Nelson outlaw country music video, I felt–stood in front of the bus and wouldn’t let it go. One of them got on the bus and brought one of the guys who had run up to me out.
He was just a kid–only 16, I found out later–and began the bad-kid story of ‘it wasn’t me, I had no idea what was happening, deny deny deny-but these men wouldn’t let him go anywhere. He claimed to not know the other kid’s name, but what he was saying didn’t make any sense.
The police arrived and handcuffed the kid. I talked to them for a few minutes, but I had to go pick up Oliver. They took my information down and told me that they’d wait for me. I ran to pick up Oliver (and I think the running did well to calm my frazzled nerves), and when we left the classroom the police had met us there. Hazel was clutching her puppy and said, when we arrived at the school, “Puppy didn’t like the running and the screaming. Puppy didn’t like it.” It broke my heart that she had to be there and experience that.
The police gave us a ride to the station, and on the way they heard that they had found the other kid. They drove me over to where they had caught him and asked me to ID him. I was nervous–I didn’t think I’d recognize him; it all happened so fast. But they brought him out of the car, and I did recognize him. They brought him to the station.
The cops were incredibly nice, and asked Oliver and Hazel for their names. Oliver said his name was Oliver, and Hazel said her name was “Funny Bunny”. The cops thought she was absolutely adorable (they were right).
We waited in the station for about two and a half hours. The kids’ parents were brought in. Each of them appeared to have a young sibling between Oliver and Hazel’s ages. When one of the mothers realized that I was the reason they were there, she approached me and said that she was so sorry. I told her that it wasn’t her fault. But I didn’t know what to say besides that.
We entertained ourselves by practicing math, learning finger spelling, having Hazel read all of the letters we could see, telling knock knock jokes, and making up silly names for planets. The kids behaved amazingly well even though we were there for so long and we had nothing to entertain ourselves with (not even my trusty phone!).
Finally, the cops installed two car seats into an unmarked car and drove us home. They said they’d come back later to give me the police report number, etc., but they haven’t come yet. I assume that something more important came up, and they have Kullervo’s number.
I kept it together for the rest of the night, but was so grateful when Kullervo came home from work early (early for a lawyer, at least). We put the kids to bed, and then it was okay to fall apart.
I am just so glad that it wasn’t any worse than it was; that neither Hazel nor I was hurt. I am incredibly impressed with Chicago’s police force-they caught both of the robbers and brought them in. I am also so glad it happened when Oliver wasn’t with me–I am not sure what his reaction would have been, but he is incredibly sensitive to things like this. Hazel is too (I think she’s had a couple of bad dreams tonight), but she’s still young enough that it isn’t as scary for her.
Tomorrow I’m going to call the pediatrician and find out if there is anything I need to watch for in Hazel (and Oliver) in case this is bothering them more than it appears. Hazel was not interested in eating tonight, and I want to make sure that she is taken care of.