I had my first experience with Sao Paulo crime today. Wandering around lost, in the rain, trying to figure out where I was vs. where I needed to be with my iPhone GPS, some kid on a bike tried to grab the phone out of my hands. I was able to snatch it back, but the curious thing was he hovered next to me and said something. I have no idea what he said. It could have been “I’m going to kill you with the gun in my pocket if you don’t give me your phone.” But ignorance was my advantage… today. So, to get rid of him, I did my best Invasion of the Body Snatchers alien impersonation. I made an extremely loud, high-pitched, inhuman noise and pointed at him with my mouth open.
It worked. He got totally freaked out and sped away, periodically looking behind him to see if I had sprouted gigantic crab legs out of my torso and was chasing him. (I knew all those horror movies as I child would eventually pay off.)
But it was a good lesson. My years in Manhattan included very few moments of feeling threatened. This dulled my street sense, and has probably, in fact, made me a little bit more of an obvious victim.
Since I didn’t know where I was, I may have wandered myself into a not so good section of town, not sure. However, there was a shooting in front of my friend’s building last week, complete with police chase. And she lives in a good neighborhood.
Needless to say, the world is a tough place, and we shouldn’t let our guard down. Especially those of us in the third world.