Light Comes Out Of Black

This is a view of Cambridge at about 1 in the morning, just south of Dunfries Conservation on Hespeler. Despite the emptiness of the streets, dangers do exist as I found out the hard way.
This is a view of Cambridge at about 1 in the morning, just south of Dunfries Conservation on Hespeler. Despite the emptiness of the streets, dangers do exist as I found out the hard way.

I never once stated being homeless was something I wanted, nor was it something safe to do. It’s a dangerous social state to be in for anyone, even someone of good health and who has no addictions or illnesses to worry about. The outdoor elements can be harsh. Many businesses are closed in case you are hungry or need to go to the bathroom.

Then you have the night people to worry about. You have the crazies who natter on about things that seem quite sane to them but you know otherwise yet dare not say so in case that pleasant conversation devolves into a confrontation. You have the anger management issue people who are fueled either by drink or drugs raving at you for looking at them the wrong way and issuing threats that are held together by the F-bombs.

Then you have the people out there who want to do you harm because it’s in their nature to do so, such as muggers. Two of which I encountered on August 25th, 2015 who attacked me and stole my laptop.

I couldn’t write about it or record any videos about what happened because I was pretty shakened up by the experience. It took me a while to get over the initial shock to get to the point where I am finally able to share it with those of you reading these words right now. Some people I know may question the decision to do this but I feel it is right for two reasons:

  • it’s in line with what this blog was all about, which is to share my experiences as someone struggling with chronic unemployment and now homelessness in a jobless recovery.
  • it’s personal therapy. I need to vent my spleen to get over it.

Here’s what happened.

On August 25th at 12:30 a.m., I took the bus to a McDonald’s that is my nightly retreat to keep myself entertained until the buses start up again where I take a few naps before starting my morning job search. The bus normally drops me off across the street from that McDonald’s restaraunt. This night, for some reason, the driver had instructions to go out of service at a campus building at the University of Waterloo, which meant I had to walk east along a street called Columbia to get to that McDonald’s restaurant.

I remember being keenly aware of my surroundings but I will admit to having focus on what was ahead of me since there was a chance of rain starting up again and I didn’t have my umbrella with me. I didn’t want my laptop bag to get soaked enough to reaching my laptop inside. I think I was halfway there before I encountered the first mugger, who I thought from his trajectory looked like he was going to pass me with a wide birth. At the last moment he snapped directly into my path and demanded my laptop. When I held it closely to my body and laced the strap over my shoulder, he became more agitated and kept repeating to give him the f—ing laptop. I told him I was going to yell for the police (yes, that does sound rather unmanly but it is my laptop and I was scared) and that was when he grabbed onto my wrist with one hand and the laptop handle with another while kicking at my shins in the hope to make me collapse and let go.

I had a both a size and weight (more like fat) advantage over him so he had trouble getting me to let go. He was however doing a great job landing kicks on my shins which, because the skin was porous with water retention from not lying down as I normally should to sleep, easily burst with every kick and began to bleed. Still, I figured if I could hold on long enough and keep yelling for help, maybe even take the tug of war to the middle of the street, he would let go and run away.

The problem with my assessment was that he was more interested in what I was carrying than actually wanting to hurt me. This was proven correct when he brought in his backup.

I suddenly felt the straps of my backpack tighten into my shoulders and sides as I was hoisted off my feet.  I started to have trouble breathing and no longer able to block his kicks. This made me lose my grip on the laptop and he pulled it away. Screaming at his unseen partner of crime, “Go!”, both ran off after I was tossed to the ground.

So, here I am lying on the ground half-way frightened out of my wits, my shins are in SEARING pain and my laptop is gone. I rolled up my legs praying that I wouldn’t see bone showing through my skin, and while the wounds to my shins were not that deep to show bone, it was pretty bad[1][2][3]. I can’t recall in my life experiencing injuries this horrible in my life. I mean, this is the fricking reason why I stayed out of school sports.

I did what I could to report the laptop stolen but I knew it was a lost cause. The man had a bandanna covering his face (it had a zipper print over it) and aside from what looked like a tattoo over his left eye and a Black Flag pin on his jacket, he was pretty covered up. I never got a good look at his partner.

I knew I needed a new laptop, so I shopped around during the back to school specials while using an older and rather cranky backup laptop to continue my job search. I finally settled on one that cost $350 (a refurb) but that money had to come from my line of credit. I didn’t have that kind of money to spare up front. Now I have a debt to pay off.

As the title of this post implies, some good did come out of this. After learning what happened to me, members of my immediate family stepped up to the plate and got me temporary living arrangements that will get me through this winter and definitely off the street so a repeat of this does not happen again. To them I am ever so grateful for being at my back and helping me, especially since they are covering the rent on this place. This is why family is so important. Blood truly is thicker than water.

Does this mean all my problems are over? No, most certainly not. I still need a job so I can be financially independent, or funding to upgrade my skills in order to get me back to work. hence my GoFundMe initiative you can find in the META links of this blog.

Thanks for reading!



4 thoughts on “Light Comes Out Of Black

  1. Hey David,

    Sorry to read of your unfortunate mugging experience. But I’m glad to read you walked away with only some abrasions and that now you have accommodations for at least the winter. So all that is definitely good news.

    However, should you find yourself homeless again I have two suggestions to help you avoid / greatly minimize you being a repeat mugging victim as well as to protect yourself & valuables.

    1). Invest in a backpack and carry your laptop in it obscured rather than an obvious laptop case / shoulder bag. That way its less obvious you have something of value i.e laptop. You should also ensure the compartment where the laptop or other valuables would be in, has zippers that you lock with a small luggage padlock. This way with the backpack strapped on you and locked, it be more difficult for a mugger or someone from behind to take it off you; plus your hands would be free to defend yourself.

    2). Invest in a pair of steel toe shoes / boots and wear these if you should find yourself homeless ever again. These are excellent for self defense and one kick in a mugger / attacker’s shins alone, can quickly discourage them. Furthermore, this is one type a weapon that cannot be taken from you or used against you nor is it illegal. This type of defensive tactic can easily be utilized by near anyone regardless of age, gender …etc.

    And believe me, a kick from steel toe footwear can really end or slow people down exponentially. I learned a lot of tactics ( i.e. steel-toe footwear) in my life to be prepared for undesirables since I resided in bad neighborhoods half my life i. e. Jamestown, Jane & Finch …etc ( as a Torontonian, I’m sure you’ve heard of these special neighborhoods), and thus I acquired a passion for street-fighting, martial arts , fitness and similar whatnot’s due to my obvious environment.

    Moreover, I would not worry if you fractured their shin or whatever since it be self defense and its better them than you in such a circumstance! This would also provide you time to escape the situation.

    Anyhow David, nevertheless as the saying goes, ” when one door closes another opens”. And in your case it looks like that … from a bad experience came a better outcome and opportunity for you.

    Wishing You All the Best ( As always),

    1. Hello Ed. Thanks for the well-wishes and supportive post. I particularly liked the quotation “When one door closes another opens”. That is exactly what happened. Had I not been mugged, I would still be out there making plans for the winter. Fortunately my family had my back as usual when they heard what happened.

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