“Not a bad night so far. Going to be a good night.” I said thinking about my tips. “ Okay, where is this address at” I took out my phone to check my G.P.S. “Here we are.” I whispered, pulling my car over to the curb. I pull down my skull cap and open the warmer bag to check the delivery order. “ That’s everything.” I grab the delivery from it’s bag and open my car door. Stepping out of my car and making sure my delivery was secured - I turn to close the door, looking at my silver Dodge Caliber. This car has been through alot and even though it was over one and half hundred thousand miles it was still as dependable as the first day my wife and I took it off the lot. A little older but still dependable..hmm,I guess I can relate. It was cold that night. colder than it has been at least. We have had quite a warm spell for this late in December but not tonight. I approached the front door and I zip up my jacket as I ring the doorbell. “Probably should have worn my big coat.” I thought as the door opened. “ Hello.” I said as the lady appeared at the screen. “
“Hi!” she said excitedly.
“ It’s going to be $25.18 please.” I informed her.
“ Ok. here it is, go ahead and keep the change “ She said handing me the money.
“ Thank you. Have a good night and a good holiday.” I responded and she returned the sentiment.
Christmas was only 5 days away and my Wife and I had just finished buying the boys their gifts. Santa was going to have to take the credit this year for them because the rest of our money was going into buying our first home. As I drive back to the restaurant I reflected on my year as I usually do during this season.I have always enjoyed delivering- not only is it great side money but it is also a great way for me to think and float away into revery. “This has been a good year”. I thought as I stopped at a red light on the corner of route 83 and 170th street. There was the usual ups and downs that most families have but for the most part, a very good year. This was my first full year back at my profession after being laid off from it and forced to work at a factory for the last six years. I had a very productive and lucrative summer- probably the most profitable of my life since I started Surveying 14 years ago. I spent my fall coaching my 10 year old’s football team after work. Coaching the Linemen has always been a huge part of my life and I enjoy it so much and after taking 2 seasons off from my last coaching position, I was very happy to get back to it.
I make the usual right turn into the parking lot of the restaurant. The restaurant shares a large section of the block with other establishments- a law firm in the middle and a popular Bar and Grill on the westerly corner of the block and to the easterly corner was a Walgreens store. All but the Walgreens share the same parking lot so you can imagine the crowd of vehicles one would have to maneuver through to get to the delivery parking spots.
I park and get out of my Caliber and look west to see a crowd of mildly inebriated youngster walking to their cars and enjoying each others company. As easy it would be for me to envy them for enjoying this time of year in each others company instead of working, I don’t. I enjoy watching however and remembering the times I would take these opportunities to be with my friends and then , girlfriend. I have spent almost every winter delivering since I was about Twentysix. My oldest son was about one back then and the winters usually brought with it seasonal slow downs so I would make up the loss with this second job. I have never minded the responsibility I had with a new and growing family. I would happily give up some jolly times to provide for them and make sure they are comfortable and protected.
“ Hey, Adan.” said Mike. “I got a stack ready for you to go.” He said again.
Mike was the dispatcher in charge of getting orders and routes together for the drivers. He was very good at it. He should be, he had worked here since he was a teenager. I remember when he first started as a driver a handful of years back. “So young” I thought with a smile.
“ Damn man. It got busy!” I said. “ Not bad though. About Forty bucks in 3 hours. Going to be a good night.” I said again patting Mike in the back. “Where are you sending me- not North again right?” I said with a smile.
“ Nope. One on 199th st . One on 192nd Street and One on School Street- easy route.” He said.
“Cool, I’m on it!” I replied. Grabbing the order and placing them carefully in the heater bag.
I walk out of the restaurant and place the delivery on the passenger's seat and close the door. I I get in and turn it on. The radio pops on as usual to a commercial.
“ A man was killed in Chicago South side this morning. More news on ABC at 9” The voice said.
“ Damn man.” I thought. I was working the South side this afternoon. The violence has been very bad in Chicago this year and has only gotten worse because of the holidays. I have spent so much time in the worst areas of Chicago for my job. Walking through the streets and between houses and I have never really been nervous doing so. Every now and then I have a bad incident that usually involves some sort of harassment that forces me to leave a site but nothing really that has made feel as if my life was in danger- until recently. The Murder rate in Chicago has been spreading like a disease and the scum of the streets no longer only shoot at each other. Recently a utility worker was shot in the face and about two months ago a child was lured into an alley and assassinated. The daily reports of gunshot victims and murders are enough to drive a person mad.
Violence and crime has never been anything new to me. I grew up in an urban area and spent my young adulthood doing things that I shouldn’t have. Putting myself in situations that could have cost my life. Maybe that’s why working in these places that would usually cause people anxiety has never bothered me..I know how to be aware of my surroundings. I know how and when to avoid situations when I’m in those areas….”Maybe that’s why I was such an asset to my employers.” I whispered. My wife and I have discussed getting licensed to carry and I will eventually-We’re closing on our first home in about 10 days and our money is tied up on that. besides, I have two more days of surveying then I’ll be out of the Chicago for two weeks. It can wait till after the new year.
I pull up to the home in 199th street. A large brick home with a long driveway. “Damn, where is that Credit Card receipt?” I ask myself, looking in my jacket pockets and only finding cash from prior deliveries. I usually keep cash in different pockets. just in case. I grab the delivery from under two large deep dish pizzas. “ Damn, those are heavy.” I said. I look at the receipt to the deep dishes. “Sixty bucks! Someone is having a party!” I thought. They were both for the next house on the route. “Call when you get there.” The note said. I looked at the phone number and thought how odd it was for it to have a Chicago number for a house in in the suburbs -” Probably a cell phone, it happens. “ I thought. “ Now where is this damn Credit slip!” I said walking to the front door and ringing the doorbell.
“ Alright, My man!” Said the voice that approached the door. “ Come on in!” He said as he opened the door for me and invited me in.
“ Thank you.” I said. “ Sorry but I think i dropped or forgot your Credit Slip. I can’t find it anywhere but go ahead and sign the receipt and I’ll make sure I’ll tell them at the restaurant what happened.” I told him as I tore off the top copy of the receipt that was stapled to the box.
“ Okay no problem. “ The man said. “ This here for you.” He said again handing me 6 dollars. “ Thanks and I hope you have a great Christmas.” He said once more.
“ Thank you sir and Merry Christmas to you as well” I responded.
“Another good tip. Man I’m having real good night.” I thought to myself again. Earlier that day while my wife and I were shopping for the kids, I told her not get me anything for Christmas. She usually breaks her promise but I made sure she understood that moving into the new home was our Christmas presents to each other. We’ve been married for eleven years and have been together for thirteen years and this is our first home and we are very excited about the move.
“This is an easy route.” I said to myself as I checked the address to the next delivery again. I put the car in drive and took off. “ I’m going to surprise her with a gift since I’m having a good night.” I thought with a smile. Our coffee maker broke about a week ago and she’s been having separation anxiety. I saw a nice one that wasn’t too expensive at the store. I’ll buy that for her and surprise her with it on Christmas morning. Happy Kids, Happy Wife. It was going to be good Christmas.
I turn to the street of the next delivery and slow down to find the address. As I pull up to the curb I spot the house. This is a quiet neighborhood. I’ve delivered her plenty of times, I’ve even surveyed in this area a couple times as well . Better than most parts of Chicago I work in, that’s for sure. I look up quickly and spot a man walking down the sidewalk in my direction. I noticed he had his jacket pulled tight against him. It was colder than it has been that night and I thought his leather letterman style jacket would keep him warmer than my jacket did right then. I let the man clear my vehicle and I grabbed my order. I took a second look at the address on the house to make the confirmation and I opened the door and stepped out still facing in the direction my car was facing. I turn to close the door and spot the man again a couple yards from me, only he wasn’t on the sidewalk anymore and he wasn’t walking away from me anymore. What was he doing?
“Don’t move mother fucker! Don’t move!” He said in a loud whisper. “ This is a robbery!” He said pulling his revolver from his pocket.
My brain got to work. How far is he from me? 5 yards. He’ll be on me in 3 seconds. Damn, no time. What kind of gun is it? Revolver. Dark. Can’t tell the Caliber but it’s out of the pocket and already pointed at me. Letterman's Jacket. tan sleeves , dark patches on the shoulder. No time. “ Fuck! how did you let this happen?!” I thought. “ Wait for a chance, Adan. “
“ I said give me the Cash. I know you have cash on you! phone, wallet, keys!” Let’s go, give it up or I’m gonna kill you!” He shouted
Five feet, nine inches tall. Medium build. Maybe a hundred and ninety pounds. Thin eyebrows. Grey Hoodie. Grey Scarf over his mouth . Eyes…….Eyes. High, soft tone in his voice. He’s younger. None aggressive? Holding the gun sloppily. He’s not a murderer, he’s opportunist, I’m sure of it. You’ve had guns pulled on you. You know what murderers sound and look like. He’s shoulders are hunched, his hands are moving too much. He’s too close. Arm pit the gun and beat the shit out of him.
“ I said put the pizza down and give up the shit or I’m gonna kill you mutha fucka!” extending his arm with the gun.
“ It’s time to go work Adan.” I thought to myself as I began to lean towards the coward. Then in the back of my eye I see my oldest son, followed by youngest son. I paused. “You haven’t been in the gym in a while dude. Your knee is worse than it ever has been. You’ve let yourself gain weight again and you’re wearing your damn glasses. If they fall off you won’t see a damn thing in this dark.” I thought. “Is the risk worth the cash?” I thought.
“Alright man. Alright. Calm down, hold up.“ I told him as I put down the pizza on top of my car. I reach into my first pocket and grab the wad of cash with the least amount. “Here” I told him as he snatched it from my hand.
“ I know you got more in the other pockets.” He says pointing the gun at me. “ Let’s go, give me the wallet, the phone!”
I tap my pockets as if I’m looking to see where I placed them. Checked one pocket. Checked the other. “Delay him” I thought. “A car will pass and scare him off. Delay him” I thought again.
“ Give me the keys!” He said.
I can’t let him take my car. I need that for work. Ignore him and keep looking for your wallet.
“ The phone! the Wallet!” he said
You have too much information on your phone-too much information in your wallet. Don’t give it to him. Why did you wait so long to get your permit and gun?! Stupid! Delay him!
“Wallet, Phone!” he demanded
“ No.” I said. “ No. Here..” I reached into my second pocket and grabbed the rest of the delivery cash. “ Here’s the rest of the money.” I opened my wallet and grabbed the two $2 bills I had gotten for my son, He likes those. “ Here’s all the cash I have and take this card. the pin is 3245. take that.” I said calmly handing him my possessions.
“Okay, sit in the car and get me the keys.” He said.
I reached in and grabbed my keys. Take my car I thought. I’m keeping my phone. It’ll be easier to catch you that way. I took one more look at his face as he snatched my keys from my hands and ran. As soon as he cleared the building I took out my phone and dialed 911. I knocked on the door of the recipient of the order. He answered as the emergency operator answered the call.
“ Can I help you? “ said the man at the door.
I asked him for a second as I answered the operator. “ Yes ma’am, I have just been robbed by an armed man.” I said
“ You were robbed, right here?” the man said.
“ yes sir” I replied. “ I’m delivering your pizza and the man came up from behind me.
“ I didn’t order pizza.” the man said grabbing his coat. “ I’m a retired police officer. don’t worry.” He said again. “ Let me go get my neighbor, he’s also a retired officer.” he finished walking out of the door and grabbing his neighbor.
A few minutes later the police arrived on the scenes and began their investigation. I was interviewed and the K-9 unit was brought out to try to get a scent. The retired officers told me how there have been multiple robberies in their neighborhood and they have been keeping an eye on a house at the end of the road.
“Some people moved in not too long ago.” One said
“ Yeah, bunch of gang banger types, making all sorts of racket.” the one added.
The first responding officer approached me “ Have you been through this before? “ he asked.
“ No sir, why do you ask?” I responded.
“ I have seen a lot of robbery victims and you are by far the calmest one.” He said.
I thought for a second “ I work in the most dangerous areas of Chicago almost every day sir. Something like this was bound to happen sooner or later. I just didn’t think it would happen in this area. I should have been better prepared. I let myself get robbed.” I told the man.
After all was said and done and my spare keys were dropped off, I returned to the restaurant spoke to the manager and clocked out. I needed some time to process that day's events. I stopped at the local bar to have some drinks. “How could I let this happen? I’m always aware and vigilant?” I would think.
When my wife showed up to meet me, I hugged her and gave her a kiss. She was so worried about me. Luckily the kids were spending the night with their aunts house . I told her everything that happened. “ You gave him the Card and the PIN number?” She asked.
“ It was a dummy card. I closed that account months ago. I just kept it in my wallet just in case something like this happened.” I told her.
The next night I get a call from the police department. A separate incident led them to search a house and they ran across a set of keys. I described mine and they confirmed they had my keys and suspects in custody.
“ Where was the house you searched sir?” I asked the officer.
“Right down the street from where you were robbed. “ He said.
The day after the call I arrived at the police station to answer some more questions. I along with a second victim were able to give enough information to place the man under arrest. He had robbed three people in three months and now he’s sitting in jail.
The days that followed that incident made me realize that I have allowed myself to get complacent and comfortable. I spent some time being angry at myself. That time has passed. I hugged my wife and kissed my kids and thanked the Creator that I get to spend another holiday with my family.
Time to get back to work and make sure the chances of something like this happening again become few. Crime will always be a fact of life. It’s an act of desperation that may never be fixed but being a victim is a choice. That is a choice that I will greatly try to never make again.
FOOL ME ONCE…..