Hold lightly to things

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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.ย  You’re actually not super likely to get hurt or killed during a robbery in Brazil – unless you try to resist itย 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.

  • I’m so glad that you’re alright – praying for God to surround you with His peace tonight.

  • Joyce Stotts, your Mom’s friend from JFJ Ingatherings

    Hey, Shayna: We are so grateful to see the Lord’s Hand of protection over you and that you are
    safe and sound. I know it was traumatic, though, but thank God you are not in the hospital or worse!

    You are correct about holding things lightly. It is hard, though, when it comes to your children. That is the test we are walking through right now, and it is not easy.


    Joyce S

  • Jay Silverberg

    Dearest Shayna. Firstly and most importantly you are safe. I relate to your story very well as I was a NYC bus driver in the Bronx for 3 years. Sadly, I was injured more than once. This was before I was a christian and I swore that I would run them over if I ever saw them again. Now, as angry as I would get, I would pray for them and for my own safety. Stay well and may God keep his eye on you.
    Jay Silverberg

  • Wilma

    Hi Shayna,

    I am so thankful that you are OK ! That must have been pretty scary ! God was watching over you !

    I do need to be praying more for your (and Christian’s ) safety !

    God’s blessings to you !

    Wilma (your mom’s CT friend, now living in VA)

    • Shayna

      Thanks, Wilma!

  • Great instincts, Shayna! Material things really are insignificant when it comes right down to it. A friend of mine fought a thief in Baltimore, MD and died- over a lousy bag of money.

    I hope this never happens again to you.

    • Shayna

      Oh no – I’m sorry to hear about your friend ๐Ÿ™ There have been so many examples of similar situations here… one acquaintance tried to fight an attacker and got stabbed in the leg. Later, when asked how much money she had on her that was so important to defend, she said “10 reais.” It’s not worth it for any sum, but resisting a guy with a knife for 10 reais, really…?

      • R$10 for a thigh stab. Ahhh. Our brains are so human.

  • I hate that this happens anywhere in the world. I am so sorry that you were put in that situation. I read a saying once that said something like, ” you can only truly live when you accept that everything you have will be gone” which is very similar to the saying you had at the end of the post.


    • Shayna

      What’s annoying is that there’s not much of a way to avoid such situations. Of course one can avoid the *really* inadvisable things like walking through certain neighborhoods after 10 PM, but this was on an 8:30 PM bus (when many are still going home from work) on one of the most well-traveled routes.

      Still, considering the last time I faced a thief in Salvador was having my $5 plastic watch ripped off my wrist in 2004, I’d say I’ve been quite lucky!

  • Peg

    Scary. So lucky they passed you buy, and I’m glad no one got hurt.

    Be prepared to have moments of flashbacks. For me it was little things like hearing a man’s voice speaking Portuguese, or seeing a kitchen knife with the same handle. The bus will not be the same for you for a while, but it passes.

    The flashbacks (such a dramatic word) just brought jabs of anxiety that passed quickly. It was important to me that I walked through them, and didn’t let them stop me from doing whatever I needed to do. I felt stronger because I faced it all and kept going. You will too.

    So glad you’re ok!

    • Shayna

      Thanks for the comment, Peg! Unfortunately I have to ride the bus home late 4 days a week. I’ll probably always be sitting in the front row from now on. Also, in the future if I see anyone board the bus who activates my “ladrao radar” like these guys did, I wouldn’t be adverse to getting off at the next stop and paying another fare to catch a different bus.

  • Well played. Your perspective serves you well in this crazy city. I’m glad you are okay, I must say I’m also glad that you weren’t singled out as a rich gringa and a must-rob (let’s just rob this last gringa here, she’s probably loaded!)

    • Shayna

      If they had, they’d have been quite disappointed with my wallet but quite thrilled with my cell phone :-p

      • Not mine! Did you know that when a bus is robbed the cobrador is responsible for the losses? Apparently this is to keep cobradores from being complicit in robberies. If that wasn’t the case I would have wondered if the cobrador on your bus wasn’t involved somehow… (note to non-Portuguese speakers: ‘cobrador’ means ‘fare collector’)

  • I’m just happy you’re OK.

    Something similar happened to me on the train a few months ago here, never a fun thing to go through. I only lost about 20 dollars but I swear I aged 10 years in my 45 minute hold up stint.

    Do you think Salvador is getting better or worse in terms of security?

  • Sherry Zotta

    Dear Shayna,
    What an ordeal to suffer! So glad you were not hurt! Thank God for His protection and safe-keeping! Think you have the right attitude to material possessions! God bless and keep you! Now, whenever I see a bus, I will pray for you and your continued safety!

  • Luasol

    Wow, glad you are okay! Good to know, because I start taking the bus to class next week. Now I know why I carry money in my bra! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • OMG, my mouth was wide open when i read this. I think i might have freaked out.. Glad you are ok and your instinct was to hand over the posessions.

  • So scary! I would be shaken to the core if that happened. Thankfully you are safe and did not have to give up your stuff, but as you said, stuff is stuff. It can be replaced; we cannot. Good instincts!

  • that’s shitty. I always reckon that if that happens I’ll put my ipod down my crack but if it happened I know I’d just panic and hand it all over. Hope you weren’t too shook.