You Gotta Look Up!

14 Mar

Two weekends ago, I had to go to the office to get something. As I was walking towards the elevator, this guy almost walked into me because he was not looking ahead but at his smartphone. Hrmph.

Nowadays I see a lot of people walking on the streets do not look at where they are going. Instead, they are constantly looking down at their smartphones, busy replying messages, reading status updates or even playing games. What these people don’t realize is how dangerous this is.

Firstly they don’t see where they are going and just walking blindly. Secondly they become oblivious to the surrounding and are not alert as to who or what are in their path. If something were to happen, chances are they would be caught off guard. I could have bumped the guy and have that smartphone knocked off his hands!

There was once I was caught off guard with my surrounding. And this was dinosaur years ago, an era without smartphones and it’s enough to leave a permanent scar.

I had just gotten off the PATH train from Jersey City at the World Trade Center in New York City. Remember this was dinosaur years ago and the World Trade Center still existed. On that fateful day, after I got off the train, I withdrew some cash from the ATM machine and was heading to the office on Broadway.

Somehow on that particular mid-morning, I was a bit dreamy and had my earphones plugged in, oblivious to my surrounding. I was heading down the stairs to get onto the subway when a foul smelling homeless guy bumped into me along the stairs!

I did not panic or whatsoever because I couldn’t hear what he was saying. My music was blasting so loud, I wasn’t paying attention and was totally caught off guard.

He grabbed me by my collar, gave me a shake and came close to my face; I could not avoid his reeking alcohol breath. Ugh, puke… With his other hand near my cheek, hiding a blade, he repeated himself.

One earphone dislodged from my ear when he shook me again and this time, I heard him, “Give me all your money or I’ll cut up you f@*king face.” Some things you remember for life, like this instance.

And still, I did not panicked. It took awhile before I registered what was happening. And when I realized what was going on, the first thought that came to my mind was ‘Oh crap! I just withdrew some cash!” Not a thought of my safety but the money! Geez.

I was being mugged in broad daylight at the World Trade Center! All because I wasn’t paying attention to my surrounding. Amazingly, there wasn’t anybody coming up or going down the stairs because the trains had left and the crowd dispersed so quickly.

“What…?” I said.

By now, I think a good few seconds passed but it felt like forever. Before I could react, thank goodness, someone did come up the stairs and disrupted the scene. Foul smelling guy released my collar and incredulously said, “Thank you for your time!” and hurried off up the stairs.

It was only at that exact moment that I panicked. I flew down the stairs (thankfully, I did not trip and tumbled down) and in haste, crossed the turnstile and prayed for the train to hurry up. The train came and I jumped in.

By then, both my legs were trembling when I sat down. Gosh! What a close call. The two years that I had lived in New York City and Jersey City, I never once had any trouble because I was always alert and aware of my surroundings. But this one time on an off chance of not being aware, I almost became a mugging statistic. Shudder, it could have ended badly. Thank goodness it didn’t.

From then on, I always, always pay attention to my surrounding and never fiddle with my iPhone5S whenever I am walking on the streets. One must always look up for you may never know what you will bump into or who may bump into you.

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