Saturday, October 06, 2007

Thank You Manny

There have been times where I have taken slight risks when out shooting with my camera. Not major risks, I do not harbor dreams of becoming James Nachtwey and spend my time dodging bullets, but minor risks. Shooting alone at night would probably be the biggest risk I have ever taken. At these times I am ultra aware of my surroundings. Who is near me? What was that sound? Where is the nearest crowd of people? How fast can I get out of here if I need to? The same things you think about being anywhere alone at night, especially if you are a woman. I have been very lucky, and had no problems. No creepy people leering at me, no one trying to rob me, nothing. Like I said, I have been lucky.

Today was not a big risk day. Today was not even a low risk day. I had class all day, so during our lunch break we were asked to go out and do a little shooting. It has been on the hot side here in D.C., so like any warm day, there were crowds of people outside. Our class is in Georgetown, the neighborhood not the university, which is considered one of the safest neighborhoods in the city. Some people teamed off into groups, but I wanted to go alone, and not copy other people. I find it hard to be unique and creative with someone looking over my shoulder, and vice versa. I headed over to the canal because I thought I could get some good shots of the water and maybe even a biker or two on the path.

There were lots of people around, in fact I had a short conversation with an elderly man who was also walking the canal. I approached a large stone wall that is adjacent to the Mall at Georgetown Park. There are some stones that jet out of the wall that I thought would be great for some shallow depth of field images. I love me some shallow depth of field, and the texture of the stone drew me in. As I put my camera to my eye I heard a man walking the canal start yelling. He wasn't saying any words, he was just yelling. I looked at him for a second, deemed that he was yelling for someone else, and went back to my camera and the wall. Well, I was wrong. Very wrong. As I placed the camera to my eye a second time he started screaming again, and a half full bottle of Aquafina water flew into the side of my face. I don't even like Aquafina. Shocked, and in pain, I realized that he just threw the bottle at my head, and he was approaching me fast. He was also screaming something about how "He has rights too." I immediately went up the steps and into the mall. Thank God the mall was right there. He followed me. I flipped out. I grabbed my phone and started dialing 9-1-1, but as I got further into the mall I saw a security guard. I started telling her the story, but I could barely talk and I was shaking. The man was still in the mall, a distance away, but staring me down. After a very brief, and very useless, conversation with the security guard I realized that she had no idea what to do. I wanted to get away, far, far away from the crazy man, so she escorted me out to the street. He was still staring at me, and I was afraid he was going to follow, but I knew I couldn't stay in the mall. Once outside I walked/ran over to M street where I did what everyone else would do in a situation where they just felt that their safety was, and maybe still is, at risk, I called my husband and started crying. I can't think of a better reason to have a husband.

During the walk back to school, I calmed down some. Dave stayed on the phone with me and helped talk me through what happened. He asked me if I wanted him to come get me, but I said no because I didn't want this man to interrupt my class any more than he already had. I sat down in our director's office, recounted the story for her, and she called the police. I was pretty upset, and it took me a few minutes to be able to talk without shaking. The police came and were very, very nice, but I doubt that they will find the guy. The whole situation is so bizarre. In the 200 or so times that I have gone through it in my head, there is nothing that I would have done differently. I was not in a situation to raise any sort of internal alarms. I was hit by a crazy person, for no reason, in a crowded area, during lunch time on a beautiful day. I am not implying that anyone that is attacked is asking for it, but the odds of it happening at that time, at that place, must be pretty low. I am lucky I got away. I am lucky that I only had a red mark and sore face for a few hours, and a case of the jitters. It could have been much worse. I got away.

As the police interviewed me, they asked for a description of the guy. I recalled a lot about him, dark long sleeved shirt, long dark pants, sunglasses, long dreadlocks, height, weight, etc. When it came time to describe his skin tone I couldn't think of the right word. He was a lighter skinned black man, but I felt that was a very vague description. So what did I say to the cop? Yep, this is how my mind works. I told the policeman that he had the same skin tone as Manny Ramirez. Oh yeah, welcome to my mind. The best part is that as he told his fellow policemen who they should be looking for, he recycled my Manny line. Awesome. May this be my lesson to you. When attacked, remember which major league baseball player your assailant looks like. The cops find it helpful.


Lis said...

I can't believe this happened to you! How incredibly scary and disorienting. But I love the baseball twist, so great that you could find a little humor in this crazy situation.

Anonymous said...

So there really a guardian angel...he comes in all shapes and sizes. A ding-bat security guard, your wonderful husband who walked you into a calmer mode...the director and her ability to get the police to talk to you and Manny. It is a known fact that most people do not give correct descriptions of their assailants. You are not most people! I am so sorry that this happened to you but you are not alone out there..all you have to do is ask...I love u Meg