Friday, November 19, 2010

The Mock Robbery of a Bamberger

Particular films, news articles and unnecessary comments from loved ones made me believe that a person like ol' Jimmy McWhiteflesh here would be devoured the moment after leaving the airport in Rio de Janeiro.
"You'll have to use mirrors on the ends of sticks to check around every corner" they would say.  
"They will steal your skin and passport, then fly to Canada to live as you." The kids would chant.

Although the poverty is right up in your face here, the threat that was foretold has not, touch wood, contacted us
directly.  The odd barefoot child has requested change for food and some streets at night get us all freaked out, but there ain't a soul
who has tried to do us harm.  Oh...well, there was the time our credit cards got copied at an ATM machine and thousands
of dollars were taken, but that’s not worth mentioning, really.

At any rate, a few days ago the fear I'd been anticipating finally presented itself, kind of.  
That afternoon, myself and two other kindly folk, let's called them N-stro & J-town to protect their identities, were strolling towards
Flamengo station as the day strolled towards being uneventful.  We were engaged in chatter, forging a bond, preparing to split off towards
differing afternoon trajectories and inattentive to the two characters ambling along in front of us.  Those characters, of course, created a reason for a blog post....but first..

Across from the Metro station, no, above it, 
there's a strange and random little forested area that seems to be a campground for a particular group of homeless people.  
It has fire pits, wandering chickens and strewn bits of enfilthed clothing/garbage.
The only live chickens we've come across in RJ thus far have been located here.  See photo.

So, one of these aforementioned characters, likely from that forested camp, suddenly turned swiftly towards me.
Peripheral vision informed the brain that a metal object was pointed towards the belly and the important guts behind that belly.

He muttered something about dinheiro (money).  My heart picked up it's pace, packed it's bags and tried to escape.  The higher cognitive functions melted and turned the controls over to my fat, out-of-shape instincts. Real fear, how unfamiliar!!  The fellow was clearly from well below the poverty line, he stunk like piss, sweat and dirt.  He was wearing filthy blue shorts, and an even filthier striped-shirt with long sleeves.  Shoes?  I don't think so.  His equally fragrant companion had a muddy blanket draped over his head, that's all all recall about him.

Within a second, though, my eyes realized the metal object sticking out from his sleeve looked neither knife nor gun-like and
Mr.Stinky was grinning like an unattended fat kid with an open bag of marshmallows.  I had just been fake robbed at small-metal-pipe point.

"Foi uma brincadeira, cara!, uma brincadeira! heheheheh" he laughed
"It was a joke, man!  A joke! heheheheh"
Then they wandered back their bush lair.
End of altercation.

Afterwards, the three of us briefly discussed how unfunny that joke ended up being, but after a few hours of contemplating the fragility of life......I changed my mind and decided that the joke was funny after all.  The situation had been invigorating, no money was lost and it helped give a bit of joy to some of this country's lost souls.  All in all, I wouldn't mind being fake-robbed again some day.

These stick figures drawn on the back of an envelope should help
visualize the scenario.