On Monday Morning, December 1, 2008, I was walking to the Hayward BART train station after coming from the 7 AM morning mass. I had headphones on, and was listening to Catholic broadcaster Teresa Tomeo’s radio show on EWTN (via Immaculate Heart Radio 1260 AM) where she was talking with another author about how children experience God first through their parents’ love and attention.

I was thinking about children. And had this sunny image of a father playing with a smiling baby girl in a verdant green backyard.

Suddenly, I was approached and surrounded by five young high school boys (three of whom were on bicycles) who said: “Gimme all your money… NOW!”

Photo of an empty wallet.
Empty. Photo by Razzlefrazzle on Flickr.

I gave them my wallet and told them I had no cash, which was why I was walking. There truly wasn’t a dime in there. The lead boy searched through my wallet, not finding any bills. He flipped through the image of the Divine Mercy and some photos. He said “Oh. Nice picture of your daughter.” And then handed me back the wallet without taking anything. (Actually, it was a college photo of my wife.) At which point another boy wanted to see the photo so I handed him my wallet. He handed it back to me after fingering through it as well.

The lead boy then said “You taking the bus?” I said yeah. “You have no money? Here.” And he handed me a dollar bill.

I took it.

And I don’t even remember saying thank you. I was too weirded out.

They then ran off saying “Sorry, we thought you were someone else!” Yeah right. The gang then proceeded to terrorize two other men on the same street. One victim ran from the gang by stepping into traffic, another victim must’ve lost some money. All of this at 8:30 AM on a Monday morning.

* * *

I was glad they took none of the cards or I.D. or even the wallet. They actually even refused my cheap plastic radio which I was listening to Teresa Tomeo’s show on. (Yes, I offered it to them.)

Once on the BART train, I prayed for those boys that God show them the error of their ways before it’s too late for them. Because as I looked at their eyes, I realized those kids didn’t think they were doing anything truly criminal. It seemed from their bearing and demeanor that they were only playing a game — merely bullying some kid on the school yard, or accomplishing some video game quest.

Again, I was thinking about children. This time, the image was less sunny and more grim. Did those boys who tried to rob me not grow up right? Were values not taught in their homes? Did they have parents? Role models?

Googling for info on these criminal activities, I came up with this Oakland Tribune article posted back in April 08 about how these Hayward street muggers view it all as a sport:

Street muggings have become a sport for robbers, Police Chief Lloyd Lowe said during a report to the City Council in February. “It’s almost as though it is a sport,” he said. “People are just being robbed when they are walking down the street, even if the robbers don’t get anything. It is something that we’re seeing all over the Bay Area.”

* * *

So now I can say, strangely enough, that I was mugged.

And earned a dollar.

Truly God is kind and merciful (not that I deserve it), slow to anger and rich in compassion.

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