The bus I was riding was assaulted tonight.
One stop after I got on, four teenagers boarded the bus. One of them tried to climb in through the window, and the guy who collects the fares let them all slip under the turnstile and enter without paying, which I thought was odd. Just from the way they looked and the way they were acting, I suspected something was up and it wasn’t just normal teenage antics. One was shirtless and shoeless, they were being rowdy, and the four of them kept switching seats completely unnecessarily as if they were scoping out the people and positions on the bus.
A few stops later, one of them flashed a gun at the fare collector and demanded the money. Then they came forward through the bus telling people to give them money and cell phones. My hand went to my bag so that I could turn everything over immediately and not piss them off by taking the time to search through my purse.
However, I was sitting in the first row closest to the driver, and when they got towards the front of the bus (which had pulled over by that point), they got rushed and said “Let’s go, let’s just go!” – and exited through the front door without taking anything from the people in the front rows.
The bus went on for a while, and then pulled over again and the fare collector announced that the bus was going straight to the police station, and asked which of the passengers wanted to come along. Some who had their stuff taken did, and others (like me) asked to be let off along the way.
Needless to say, I’m shaken. But actually not as much as I thought I’d be. I’m aware that I’ve had an extremely lucky track record in Salvador in terms of not being assaulted, and it was always in the back of my mind that it’d probably happen sooner or later.
Although I luckily didn’t end up having my stuff stolen, I’m very glad that my instinct was to turn it over. You’re actually not super likely to get hurt or killed during a robbery in Brazil – unless you try to resist it or fight the thief. If I was more attached to my cell phone or whatever, it’d be harder to react correctly in that moment.
It reinforced, for me, the importance of holding on lightly to “material things.” No matter how expensive the car or how beloved the cell phone, it’s never worth risking your life over. If you lose your stuff, it certainly sucks, but… “Naked a man comes from his mother’s womb, and as he comes, so he departs.”
I’m just thankful I’m OK.