A test of faith & learning experience

While my weekend in DC was quite lovely, it sadly ended on a negative note.

Dad and I headed back early. I wanted to give my Mom & sister some time alone together so I hitched a ride with Dad. We stopped outside DC on New York Avenue to get some gas. Dad had a little trouble with the credit card reader on the pump & had headed inside to remedy the situation (and of course pick up some snacks). While he was getting gas and staring outside the windows, contemplating the meaning of life (read: trying to decide what to get at the grocery store when I got home in an hour). There was a man at an outside pump getting gas and I was quite content to watch traffic stream by.

My day dreams were interrupted by a gurgling barking scream: a man had grabbed the man getting gas at the pump by the neck and another was opening his jacket. My first thought was that they were his friends & had scared him. Everyone would hug in a moment & laugh it off. But when one man opened the poor guy's jacket & snagged his wallet, I realized that no one would be laughing. This was not a joke. Somehow the fact that the two men were wearing ski masks escaped my notice until later.

I hadn't even seen the men approach the innocent victim. Once I realized what was going on, my head spun off in two different directions. First, I was next. I was the only other one at the gas station who was not in the convenience store. Everyone else was blissfully unaware. Sitting alone in a nice SUV full of luggage including laptops, cameras and my purse, I made the logical conclusion that the robbers would come for me next. My saving grace was that based on their angle and where I was located, I couldn't be seen. I really don't think they realized I was there.

Second, I had to note the details to report them to the police. I craned my neck to see the license plate but couldn't quite see it. The robbers hopped in their car (new model dark grey Corrola) and sped away. The victim also left shortly there after.

Dad came back once both the robbers & victim had left and asked if I wanted a snack. I flipped and told him I wanted to leave. NOW. Dad stared at me like I had 4 heads. It turns out he was trying to figure out when I'd developed a sudden overwhelming aversion to Snickers. I blurted out "That guy just got robbed." Dad ran back inside, paid for the gas and drove away as I attempted to compose a coherent retelling of the events. Apparently I looked like the feathered ones when frightened. So I probably looked something like this:

A few yards away from the gas station, the victim had pulled over, gas cap still open. We pulled next to him and I rolled down my window to see how he was. Instead of saying anything coherent, I babbled a series of run together questions, covering are you okay and do you need cash. Other than a bruised & sore neck, the man said he was unharmed. As it turns out, the robbers actually returned his credit cards & ID. They only took his cash. He swore he was okay, just shaken up. Then a five minute back & forth of "I just wanted to see if you were okay" & "thank you so much for checking on me" followed.

Several things struck me after this incident & I want to talk about one of them here. I've always struggled with the concept of guardian angels but for the second time in a year, I've run into an incident that has convinced beyond a doubt that His angels are watching out for me. The possibility that this whole thing could have ended significantly worse is very real. For whatever reason, the robbers stayed away from me.

This event will always stay with me. Do I have post-traumatic stress disorder? No. But I will always be thankful for my safety and the (relative) safety of the victim. Will I be paranoid? No. But I will be more aware of my surroundings & try to keep the man's example in the forefront of my mind. The victim was calm & collected, which lead to him receiving his credits cards back & kept him from being more seriously injured.

"For he will command his angels concerning you
   to guard you in all your ways;
they will lift you up in their hands,
   so that you will not strike your foot against a stone"
Psalm 91: 11-12

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