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The Never Ending Nightmare
Have you ever experienced anything that will continue to impact you for the rest of your life? I have.
In San Jose, Costa Rica, one dark night, my dad and I were strolling home from school. It was open house that night so we were there until 9:00 or so. We lived about 5 minutes from the school so it was a quick walk home. We took our usual short cut along a small side street. The neighborhood was calm, a few cars passed here and there, but not many. We’d taken this shortcut a million times, so we felt really comfortable walking along. There were dimly lit street lamps spreading soft yellow light onto the road, a bumpy cracked road full of potholes. It smelled like a city, not awful, just dirty, like any city.
We were just walking when I heard the low rumble of a car behind us; it was a black shiny car with dark black tinted windows. It slowed behind us, we were in front of a house, so I just figured they were either dropping someone off, or they were parking.
Then, in the blink of an eye three men dressed head to toe in black, leaped out.
They had black ski masks on, with eye and mouth holes, black long sleeve shirts, black leather belts, and black shoes.
They were aiming their guns at us. They shouted, “Si corres, te mato”. “If you run, I’ll kill you”. I didn’t know what was going on. I was in shock. They snatched my dad’s brief case, then they felt my dad’s pockets and seized his wallet. A few days later I found out that they had silencers on their guns. So if they had shot us, no one would have heard.
Then, just like that, in the blink of an eye it was over. They rushed back into the car and propelled off.
We started walking quickly, almost like nothing had happened, yet it had. We were just trying to get to our safe home as quickly as possible. Then, it sort of hit me. I stopped on the sidewalk, saying over and over, “What just happened? Did that just happen?” We got home and told my brother what had happened. He was mad. He kept saying, “Who would do this? Who would do this to a twelve year old girl?” The funny thing is, I never got mad at those people, or angry about what happened, just scared. All I ever was, was scared and confused.
We called my mom and older brother, who were in the states at the time. They were both really mad and upset. After I told my brother, he said to me, “Oh, I know them”. That’s just the way he is, apparently he knows every gangster, robber, whatever, in the city.
That night, I had my dad search the bathroom for people before I went in it. I was scared they were going to be in there, waiting to get me alone. My brother and I slept in my dad’s bed that night. Every time I opened my eyes I thought I could see them in the dark shadowy room. For months I was convinced they knew where we lived, since it happened right around the corner from where we lived.
A question I kept asking myself, was why? Why did this happen? I think the answer is definitely a combination of things. Mainly, my dad’s brief case that he was carrying was a laptop case that he used for carrying his papers. They thought he was carrying a laptop, so they picked us. The funny thing is that all they got was a bunch of students’ papers, and two dollars from his wallet. I also think it could be pure coincidence. We just happened to be out that night, they just happened to be out. I don’t think I’ll ever know why.
It was a rough time after that. We almost moved back to the States, but my parents decided that we couldn’t run from a challenge or our fears; we needed to face it. So we stuck it out, but after that I wasn’t happy; I lived in fear everyday.
Now, I can still picture everything clearly. Sometimes the scene and the people burst into my head with no warning. I can’t control that. It still scares me, I can’t see a ski mask without thinking of them. I can barely look at a ski mask.
I have gone over in my head a million times the moment when they had their guns pointed at us. What if my brain had reacted with, “danger, run!” would I still be here today? What if my dad’s head had reacted that way? Would he still be there?
I have also wondered if those people even remember us. I bet they don’t, to them we were probably just one more job, but to us they will always be the people who mugged us. Who terrorized us. They impacted us more than they’ll ever know.
Right after the robbery, I couldn’t go anywhere alone, everything scared me. I lived in fear, which I still do a little. Today, I’ve changed a lot. I still can’t walk anywhere alone without getting nervous, although I’m working on it and getting better. I still get scared if a car goes by, I always think they’re going to stop and pull out a gun. But then I remind myself that this happened two years ago in a whole other country. I still have flashbacks, but not as often anymore.
It has been tough getting past this, slowly, I am. Slowly, I’m learning not to live in fear. It’s something that I will have to keep working on for the rest of my life, but I’m getting there now, and I am working hard not to be scared of life.