Yes honestly, they did – this isn’t clickbait! I was walking down the road, and a group of about six teenagers tried to take my bag from me. How I reacted in that few seconds wasn’t how I expected that I would react at all, and that got me wondering how stressful situations like that can lead us to act in a way that we wouldn’t normally.
When doing my degree, we were asked how we would react if we were the victim of a crime, and one of the examples asked us about being the victim of a mugging on the street. The majority of people – me included – said that they would hand over their belongings, cooperate, wait for the criminals to leave and then ring the police. And up until Tuesday evening, that’s exactly what I thought I would do.
But, as the sound of clomping teenage feet raced up to me from behind alerting me to exactly what was going to happen (I never said teenager wannabe criminals were intelligent), I found myself clutching my bag and holding it tight – the complete opposite of what I thought I would do. And, to be honest, the opposite of what we were told to do by the police officer who visited in my second year of uni.
Having clutched my bag, and with the teenager pulling on it, the strap broke, and he ran back down the hill, obviously thinking he had my bag – which was actually strapless in my arms. Realising he’d got away with nothing but a strip of fake leather, he turned around and shouted back to me “Give me your fucking bag”. Yet again, I did something that I never thought I would do – I said “No”. At this point I was using Google Maps, and actually had my phone in my hand. Something in my brain told me to hold it up and tell the teenager that I had started recording him on my phone – and he ran away!
Now, I’m not saying at all that this will happen every time – some more confident criminals might try and then take your phone or not care that they are being recorded. It certainly wasn’t the cleverest or right thing to do – but it’s like my brain had taken control of itself and was ignoring everything I had been taught in those few seconds.
I was very lucky that he ran away, and very lucky that the rest of the teenagers were still hiding around the corner shielding themselves from my “recording”, and I certainly wouldn’t recommend anyone else using this as a way of “fighting crime” – it could have turned out much worse. But, I haven’t stopped thinking about it since, and how I did something that some people have said to me was “brave”, and my Mum pointed out was “stupid” – even thought I knew I should be doing something different. Granted, I got away with my bag and all my belongings, but it still wasn’t what I had been taught was the safest way to deal with the situation.
I often find myself wondering what I would do in certain situations – some good and some bad. I suppose it’s just a survival instinct to think about it – but at the same time it’s our survival instinct that makes us then do completely different things when we’re actually under stress and pressure from these situations we’ve been thinking about. For example, I’ve thought about what I would do in a terrorist attack with so many happening at the moment; or what I would do if Pete proposed to me; or what I would do if I found £100 on the floor!
What would you do in this situation – or I should say what do you think you would do in a stressful situation like this? Have you ever experienced something similar to this; did you act the same or differently to how you thought you would in the moment?