Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Stranger Than Fiction

By Mitchell

We don't blog often on personal experiences at this site, but on occasion something comes along that's so distinctive, it begs to be shared.

This is one of those occasions.

So a friend of ours and her husband are in New York on business. Currently, they're at a sidewalk cafe sharing a drink with an acquaintance. They've just concluded a discussion on the war, in which they agree that although the war may have been a disasterous idea, it would be equally disasterous (not to mention impossible) to simply pull up stakes now and leave. As the acquaintance puts it, it's a sure bet that as soon as our troops leave, some thug would come in and take over.

At this point they gradually became aware that, not 10 feet from where they're sitting, there's a mugging in progress. This goes on for some time before the acquaintance, who our friend thought was about 70, could stand it no longer. He gets up and accousts the mugger. “Stop it! Stop what you’re doing!”

The mugger appeared too startled by what was happening to retaliate.

When the acquaintance could see that this level of intervention was doing no good, he turned, grabbed his cane and started whacking the mugger across his body and legs, all the while yelling at him, “Stop! Stop this right now!”

By this time both the mugger and the victim are starting to look a bit uneasy about the direction things have taken. It's as if the acquaintance's intervention is disrupting the social contract, so to speak.

It should also be noted that the fracas is causing no apparent disruption in the business as usual of the café.

Finally the mugger, weighing his options, decided to beat it, followed quickly (and in the opposite direction) by the prospective victim. Whereupon the Good Samaritan returned to his table, and his astonished companions.

The ensuing conversation went approximately like this:

Them: “What were you doing?! How could you do something like that?!”

Him: “What he was doing was wrong.”

Them: “Well, have you ever done anything like that before?”

Him: “No, never.”

Them: “Then why did you do take a chance like that? You could have gotten yourself hurt!”

Him: “Would that have made what he was doing any less wrong?”

And with that the conversation returned to the original topic.

It's at times like this that the novelist is tempted to simply throw his hands up in dismay, because you just can't make this stuff up. Real life is always better than fiction, no matter what you try to do to prove otherwise.


  1. Great story!

    I think the NYT Book Review had an item the other day decrying that there aren't any good novels about life in the workplace.

    I didn't read the whole piece but my reaction was that for most people, work is very repetitive. That would make a pretty boring novel.

    But vignettes like you just presented of blips in life in the big city today can make powerful statements on what it is like to be human today in the big city.

  2. That is a great story. If a 70-year old with a cane can step-up what about the rest of us?

  3. Reminds me of "LA Story". The main character (I forget his name) and his very young girlfriend (Sarah Jessica Parker) are out on their first date, and as they approach the restaurant, or leave it, whatever, a man dressed in black pulls a gun on them.

    In a very businesslike manner, he says, "Hi, I'm Bob, I'll be your robber."

    "Hi, Bob, here you go" he hands over his wallet. Bob wishes him a good evening and they go their separate ways as though nothing has happened.

    Sounds like New York.


Remember: Think Before Commenting.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...