Every Saturday we ask some of our favorite writers to fill in for us. Today, we have former Cracked.com writer Anthony Layser, who is now the deputy managing editor of Asylum.com and the recent victim of a mugging near his home in Brooklyn, New York.
Look, not every mugger is born. Some are made, and you have much to learn. Sure, the way you didn't shoot me was actually quite charming, and you did exhibit the always important ability to speak clearly and distinctly when threatening my life. But should you decide to pursue your hobby as a profession, you'll need to elevate your craft. I am not a criminal myself, so to help guide my critique, I've relied on the invaluable letters of legendary thief and unscrupulous horse trader, Thaddeus "Brier Patch" Budreau and his four A's of "blagging" (that's what they called mugging back then. See? We're already learning!).
NOTE: I cannot recommend Budreau on equine matters, as his views remain most unseemly, even to this day.
To understand where you went wrong on each critical step of our communal mugging experience, I'll set the scene from my point of view (I hope you find this enlightening). It was early evening on a late summer day, and I was returning home from my office. As I crossed the park, I noticed the absence of dogs and their owners. This is strange since, as you know, the park is normally the scene of clusters of dog walkers chatting as their pooches sniff one another's anuses.
At a convergence of paths near the park's tennis courts, I noticed three teenagers approaching me. The leader of this band (you!) approached me wearing a Yankees cap and a baggy burgundy hooded sweatshirt and asked me for the time.
It's amazing how much older-looking you get when you pull a gun on somebody.
Room for Improvement:
I immediately knew something was amiss when you made your request by positioning yourself directly in front of me. Time inquiries are commonly done in passing without either party feeling pressured to be physically intimate. To disarm a mark's defenses, Budreau recommends a seemingly harmless panhandling query or charitable donation request. In modern times, this can be done effectively by dressing up a coffee can with information about a popular cause, such as autism or "American Idol."
I don't know whether the dog park was empty by chance or if you and your friends informed the local dog owners that the daily off-the-leash hours had expired. If it was the latter, well, you certainly are rascally now aren't you?
By the time I looked up from my watch with a reply of "seven-forty-fuuuuck," you were pulling a handgun from a brown paper bag. Because my pulse quickened and my bowels threatened to move, I was unable to make out the weapon's model. I can say with near certainty that it was larger than a derringer and smaller than a Gatling gun.
At this point you asked, "Do you know what this is?" to which I replied in the affirmative. So far, so good. You followed with the ultimatum: "If you don't want me to use it, you're going to open your bag and give me your laptop." Now we're cooking with gasoline! Only, I did what you said and opened my messenger bag to reveal that I had no laptop.
This is where things started to go off the rails for you. I apologized, but you didn't seem angry so much as sad. From your drooping body language, I'm guessing you guys really had your hearts set on a computer, possibly having already ordered broadband service at your places of residence.
Room for Improvement:
Your appeal was clear and direct thanks in large part to the pistol. However, it lacked menace. Calling me a "pussy-ass bitch" or even simply "dumb motherfucker" may not have produced a computer, but it would have at least caused me to frantically turn over my bag and plead, "Just take it." I think we can both agree that my quality designer carryall would be a significant upgrade from the sandwich bag you were using to tote your gun.
My carryall. Just saying, might have been a nice fit.
Despite the lack of a distinctly wrathful tone, I nonetheless nearly shat myself.
The clock was ticking and you and your associates had yet to take anything of value. It is during these moments of adversity that awareness comes into play, and you at least showed the wherewithal to request, as a consolation, my cellular phone. Seeing how the exchange had gone up to that point, I retrieved my phone, but didn't turn it over. I showed it to you and explained, "It's pretty crappy. You probably wouldn't get anything for it."
Maybe consider robbing people your own age. Old guys like me suck at technology.
You nodded and sighed. "What about your watch," you inquired, seemingly not wanting to come away from the mugging without one free item. "Chinatown," I blurted out, referring to the area where cheap counterfeit jewelry and bags are sold. Now here I have a confession to make: That was a lie. I bought the watch at Nordstrom. To my surprise, you again heeded my words and, with frustration and resignation, simply demanded, "Just give me your fucking money then."
Room for Improvement:
As Budreau explains it, awareness is the condition of having a cognizant understanding of the task at hand, which, at its most basic, is to steal things. It also requires an understanding that you probably shouldn't take advice on the appraised worth of valuables from the person you are robbing. On both these points, you failed ... pretty miserably actually.
Yet it could have been worse. Just not much.
Finally, some profanity! Much more in line with the appropriate tone of a mugging. However, this was too little too late. Pepper a few "motherfuckers" in up front and I never would have had the balls to lie about the watch. Also, not to nitpick, but "fucking" was modifying my money, when ideally profanity should be used to demean me.
I do count the fact that the gun didn't accidentally go off as a success.
History is unclear as to whether Budreau's general lack of propriety gave him the liberty spell the word "escape" with an "a" or if he simply did not know the correct spelling. In any case, after I turned over the cash in my wallet, you thanked me for "not making a scene," and fled with your cohorts, laughing as you went.
When I reached the road that runs along the park, I called 911 and reported that I had been mugged by three teenagers, including one wearing a Yankees hat. A few moments later, the police arrived and asked me to get into the backseat of their cruiser to assist them in combing the neighborhood. Every New York City teenager out on the streets wearing a Bronx Bombers' cap (there's surprisingly no dearth of them!) was soon being patted down, ID'd and questioned in an accusing manner about their recent whereabouts. After about 20 minutes of harassing local youth, I asked the authorities to drop me off at home, feeling more hungry than concerned about getting my $33 back from you.
Room for Improvement:
Muggers often give their victims a solid punch or pistol whip before parting ways -- a tactic enthusiastically espoused by Budreau. I see this as a matter of preference, and offer that if you'd subsequently assaulted me, rather than thanking me, I probably would've been more interested in helping the police.
If the Yankees hat was a premeditated, Thomas Crown Affair-style blending tactic, this was by far your best move. Kudos!
If, however, you're just a Yankees fan, well, congratulations! You now have enough money to purchase exactly one Fathead brand 17-inch Derek Jeter skin for the laptop you will undoubtedly continue to illegally pursue.
It won't always be laptops. One day, you're going to want to sponsor a sex worker or support a substance abuse problem. But to reach those levels, you're going to need to take a critical look at the way you conduct your muggings.
In the meantime, it would be forthright if you showed gratitude for the advice I've offered here by finding another park to terrorize.