Monday, September 16, 2013

One night in a coffee shop

I was helping a friend set up her Facebook page and business blog one night at a coffee shop in Mandaluyong.  Since our meeting was also a bonding session, we stayed up quite late. As we were finishing up, two men probably in their mid-twenties sat down on the table next to us. They didn't order anything except for one regular cup of coffee. I wasn't minding them until I noticed that they both kept staring at me. Once in a while, they would chat, but most of the time, they would look at me. I started getting uncomfortable, and since I didn't want to think weird thoughts, I thought that maybe they wanted to use the outlet where my netbook was plugged.  The strange thing was, there were two sockets and the one I wasn't using was still available.

At this point, I started getting increasingly queasy.  I was the only one in the coffee shop with a netbook. The rest of the customers were just chatting with their companions or eating. While packing up, I decided to give the two men the benefit of the doubt, but I couldn't shake off the feeling that they would follow us.  We went down to the coffee shop's first floor where I stopped by the counter to get a drink of water. I was also waiting for them to go down. If they didn't, then my fears could be laid to rest. My fears proved me right, however; the two of them went down and looked like they were ready to leave too. Perhaps they thought that they had given us enough time to go out, so they could follow us. I was still hopeful though that I was just thinking negatively. However, when they saw that I was still in the counter drinking water, one of them also stopped and told his companion that he was going to get a drink of water. It was pretty obvious to me by this time that they wanted us to leave the coffee shop first! But why? I didn't want to think about it anymore and decided to follow my hunch.  Never mind that my netbook wasn't even the expensive kind. The point is, I was the only one with a gadget they had seen.

My friend and I left the coffee shop slowly. I took her aside while we were walking and whispered to her that I had a bad feeling about the two men behind us. She told me that she noticed them staring at me too and also found this strange.  I was wondering what to do.  I didn't want to walk along the highway at that late hour with the possibility of two men mugging me.  I had experienced a similar incident before (read: How my cellphone got stolen again) and needless to say, I was scared out of my wits that it would happen again.

So what we did was to try to get inside the mall, but the guard wouldn't let us in since it was already late. I didn't know what to do. Going ahead seemed so unwise with the two men still slowly following us trying not to look obvious.  Then I remembered that there was still another coffee shop nearby. I told my friend that we should stop over for a while until the two men were safely out of sight.  So that's what we did.  I also made it obvious to the two men that I had noticed them following us.   I looked at them before going inside the other coffee shop.  Thankfully, our strategy worked. The two men didn't follow us anymore and went ahead. After a few minutes, my friend and I felt safe enough to go outside.

I didn't take the bus that night like I used to. I was too shaken up to walk along a dark street. Instead, I went up the more well-lit MRT station and took the train where I could be sure that the two men wouldn't be able to follow me in the girl's section. I breathed a sigh of relief when I finally got home.

This incident was a lesson to me to be wiser in spending late nights in coffee shops when I had my netbook with me. I hope that you'll also be warned by my experience. I also couldn't shake the feeling that it was a miracle I wasn't mugged that night.  I am usually unaware of my surroundings especially when I'm busy (you can ask my closest friends about this). In fact, I once got almost hit by a bus because of this tendency of my mind to wander. But that's another story :P   I am just grateful that the Holy Spirit warned me that night and guided me on what to do. Alone, I would either have been insensitive or very indecisive.  Thank you God, because you kept us safe.

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever ~ John 14:16