I WAS one of the 626 armed robbery victims in the Central District during the first third of 1992.
By my calculations, I must have been No. 447. But I wasn't alone that day. Mine was one of the 5.26 robberies that occur on average in the Central District daily. The district includes the downtown area where thousands of people go to work every day. It encompasses the Inner Harbor, where thousands of tourists visit to view the renaissance of Baltimore. And it covers the famous Lexington Market, where wonderful produce, seafood, meats and other Baltimore specialties are available.
I was robbed on Light Street. It was Friday evening, and I planned to go to happy hour. I left my office at 5 o'clock and met a friend, another young woman, at a Water Street pub. The place was busy but not packed.
My friend and I talked about work, beaus and our planned vacation. We ran into other friends as well. By 8 o'clock, we were tired of eating popcorn and decided to go out to dinner. We walked across Light Street to go to the garage where I'd parked my car.
That is when he got me.
My guard was down; I admit it. I was having a wonderful time talking with friends. In fact, I had just met another friend on the street before we entered the garage.
Then I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned and saw a young black man with a gun pointed at me. He grabbed my purse and ran. It happened so fast! In an instant he was gone. Poof. I had become victim No. 447.
However, just as I became the statistical armed robbery victim, this man became a statistic as well.
This was a young black man, the stereotype of a robber in Baltimore City in 1992. I hate stereotypes, and I hope he does, too.
As a woman, I am aware of negative stereotypes about women and do everything in my power to show people that they are not true. This man, this armed robber, is living up to his negative stereotype. He committed a felony for less than $40. He robbed me at gunpoint. He may well have robbed others before me. If this stereotype is accurate, he may well have robbed people after me.
I challenge this man and others like him to fight their stereotypes. I challenge them to be responsible citizens and to help their community rather than tear it down. I challenge them to show people that they are not ignorant, raging warriors.
Details of this man's background -- a broken home? the son of a welfare mother? abuse as a child? -- are of little interest to me. I am sure there is some "excuse" for his actions. I regret whatever deprived background he may have had. But let us look toward the future. I challenge him to fight the odds and fight the stereotypes. I hope and pray that he can change his life of crime so that his children do not have to use him as an excuse for their sins.
I wish this were the end of the story, but it is only last spring's episode. There have been a few hundred more robberies in the Central District since mine.
jTC Be careful. Even if you think you are safe, you are not. That is when they get you.
The contents of my purse were put in a paper bag and dropped in a mailbox. All was returned except for my wallet, purse and card from my father's funeral Mass.
I am not sure if my assailant was the one who returned these items, or if it was someone else who found them discarded.
I wish I had my father's Mass card back, although even without it I know Dad is looking out for me.
Perhaps he saved me from becoming a murder statistic.
Florence K.W. Monaghan writes from Baltimore.