Twenty years ago today I was mugged. It was my fault, and I was stupid. I knew better, but did something I never should have. Let me run through the whole story and you will see what I’m talking about.
It all started with a meeting one morning. To get ready, I pulled two back to back all nighters. After the meeting I left and drove to Washington, D.C. I met up with others on the trip and we all checked in together. I was checking into the hotel at one end of the desk, while another in our group was checking in at the other end. The guy at the desk went over to my friend and said there was a single guy checking in at the other end. It turned out it was “gay weekend.” We all had a good laugh at that one. The guys on the trip played a prank on me that night. They kept calling me during the night. I didn’t get any sleep.
Friday afternoon I started home. I was about an hour from home, fighting to stay awake, when I see a “college kid” thumbing home for the weekend with a duffel bag. It was about 4 P.M. I thought he would help keep me awake. Afterall, I am only an hour from home. He looked fairly clean-cut, not a threat at all. I stopped and unlocked the doors for him to get in. There were two of them. A guy jumped in the back with a gun. They took we up a dirt road, had me get out of the car and took my wallet and watch. I never keep money in my wallet, so all he got were credit cards. I had dropped my money on the floor of my car. The next thing I saw was a foot coming at my head and catches we square on the face. I fall backward.
I opened my eyes. It was dark. I hurt all over. I’m in woods and lying on something hard, like an appliance. I see headlights below me. I think if I can get to that road I’ll be safe. I stumble through the woods to the road. I lie down and dry heave. someone stopped and the next thing I knew I’m in an ambulance, covered in blankets. They were saying I’d been out there for a while as my temperature was 91 degrees. They asked me what my name was, AND I DIDN’T KNOW IT.
My eyes hurt like crazy. Every light felt like pins being jabbed into my eyes. My head was thumping like someone was banging a rock against it. I hurt all over. I couldn’t answer any of their questions. I didn’t know how I got there. I didn’t know who I was. A Pennsylvania State Trooper, a detective, kept asking me what happened, and I couldn’t begin to tell him.
They found my car and ran the plates. At some point Gemma showed up. I didn’t know her, either. Eventually everything came back.
About a month later, I needed to get a root canal. When the dentist took x-rays, he said I had a cracked jaw that was just about healed.
I don’t pick up hitch hikers anymore. If I’m tired when on the road, I just pull over and sleep or get a motel. I also don’t walk around crowds of kids. I’ll cross the street to avoid them. The nightmares have stopped and I probably couldn’t identify them anymore. One thing for sure, I’ll never forget that foot.
One footnote, Gemma cancelled the credit cards. One card was used once, but it had already been stopped. The muggers probably thought they killed me so they left the car.