Archive for December, 2016

It’s amazing the number of decisions we have to make in a given day; let alone any given minute or second.  A random Google search puts this number at 35,000 decisions that an adult human makes in any given day.  But only a few of those decisions are sometimes worthy to mention.  I’m not personally sure that this is one of them, but I felt compelled to write this out after the scene has now replayed multiple times in my mind – my split second decision between being robbed/harassed versus escape.

This story is set in the back alleys of Downtown Los Angeles’ (DTLA) southern section only a few blocks away from the Staples Center on a cold, Thursday evening.  I had just gotten out of the Game Awards and felt adventurous and hungry.  Being on my own at the time, I opened up my Yelp app and started to scan for various restaurants.  A few familiar standbys came up but I happened upon one that I hadn’t been to – Barcito.  It wasn’t too far of a trip – only about four blocks and was pretty close to my parking spot and I had walked these streets before without any incident in the past.

Soon, I was on my way.  I walked past the busy crowds of the Staples Center area to the confusing one-way streets deeper into DTLA.  It was approximately 8PM at this point and I had just passed a few of my favorite familiar restaurants like Arashi Sushi.  I made a right turn and passed by a few closing shops and a couple with their dog.  I walked fairly briskly with my iPhone SE out while playing Pokemon Go and wasn’t too far from my final destination – about a block and a half away.

Suddenly, I looked up again from my phone and saw that I was the only one on the street heading towards a group of young men, no older than their young 20’s who were at the other end of the sidewalk.  There were about six to seven of them – four in the front row and three in the back.  I took a quick look around without showing much emotion and not moving my iPhone from my hand – I didn’t want to look weak as I felt the group’s gaze fixated upon me with any sudden movements or hastily putting my phone away.  Like an odd scene out of a bad horror movie, the shops had all closed nearby and the couple/their dog had passed the corner.  I walked forward while I thought of my options:

  • The safest route – I could turn back and go towards one of the restaurants that I was familiar with like Arashi and hang out there or even just eat there – saving Barcito for another time.
  • The semi-risky route – I could possibly try jaywalking to the other side of the street and try to walk around them but risk them following me and antagonize them further.
  • The riskiest route – I could simply try to quickly walk straight at them without fear and get to my destination.

In the span of three seconds, I fixated myself on the final route.  Ultimately, my emotions on this matter were a mixture of stubbornness and curiosity.  I was hungry and my destination wasn’t that much further.  In addition, my mind raced that possibly these people weren’t as foreboding as I thought they were.  Perhaps they were just playing Pokemon Go themselves or they were just going to a party.  With this in mind, I continued my march forward

The group and I finally met in the middle.  I walked around the front row without too much harassment – just oddly intent stares.  The second row, however, had other plans.  The next instance took literally seconds to transpire.  One of the boys in the back row continued walking.  Two of the boys however jeered at me and the taller figure on the right side bumped me with his arm out.  He asked mockingly, “Where do you think you’re going?”  His companion tried to block me on the left and affirmed his friend’s question with a nod of approval and a grunt.

In that second, I immediately considered a few options:

  • I hold my ground and fight the two boys.  My hope here was that the four boys in the front wouldn’t care for me too much and that it was possible for me to fight off two of them – as long as they didn’t have any weapons.  However, seven of them ganging up on my seemed like less enjoyable odds.
  • I scream for help.  I didn’t think this option was very viable since there literally wasn’t anyone close enough to help me out.
  • I run as quickly as I can away from the group.  I also thought that this option wasn’t too viable – if seven of them went after me, I had to run at least a block until I hit the restaurant and I wasn’t sure if people were around any other corners.
  • I continue to walk forward without fear and ignore them as much as I could.

I took the last option here after quickly considering that I 1.) obviously messed up with my first decision of walking towards them, alone with an iPhone in hand and 2.) that the two boys seemed to be wanted a clear reaction from me for them to jump on me and a lack of support from their other group members.

I quickly put my right arm up against the taller figure when he pushed me and grunted back without any expression on my face.  With my other arm, I had it ready to go in case the boy on the left tried to attack me in the face or body.  I then continued to march forward in the same manner as if nothing was there.  I feared that they would follow or try to run after me but didn’t want to show this in my body movement.

In the end, I ended up at Barcito a few minutes later – emotion drained from my face and my hands shaking.  I made a stupid mistake: walking on my own; having my iPhone clearly out; and exploring these streets in the dark without anyone else around.  And yes, even though the incident luckily went without being robbed or hurt, I knew that this encounter could have gone in many, worse ways in those few seconds with those split second decisions.  At least for the time being, I’ve become a little more aware and more knowledgeable about those back street of DTLA and my emotional foundation.  At least until the next memorable split second decision I am sure that will come my way.


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