When I was a 21yo lady I was a victim of an attempted robbery. It was the end of the semester and I had just sold back my books and had a wad of cash; the next day I had a 5am call on the set of a student film. I had that moment where I thought, "do I need to be carrying all this cash around? Nah. I only need $17." So I took the rest of the money out and left it on my dresser.
The next morning, I was in the parking lot of the restaurant where the film was being shot, unloading my stuff from the backseat of my car, when a young dude walked up, pointed a gun at me, and demanded all my money. No way in hell was I getting shot over $17, and I figured the only thing I could do was remain as clear, calm, and honest as possible. Our exchange went thusly -
Thief- "give me all your money."
Me- "okay. My wallet is still in the car. I'm going to get it out and give you the money, okay?"
Thief- "how much you got?"
Me - "I have $17."
(At this point I could see him wavering. May I also add that this took place in a small town dominated by lots of colleges)
Thief- "you go to school?"
Me- "yes, I go to the large dominant state school in the city
Here, his conscience got the best of him, as the gun began to lower. Someone walking through the parking lot called out to me; the thief was startled, the gun came back up, and I just placed my hand on his shoulder and waved off the person so had spoken to me, calling out that I was on my way inside. He lowered the gun again.
Thief- "I can't rob you. I can't. I just want you to stay in school and get an education."
As I stood there frozen, he ran off, jumped into a waiting car, and disappeared. I stumbled, shocked, into the restaurant, unaware that tears were rolling down my face and I was shaking like a leaf. Someone called the police; I was a bit of a gearhead and could describe the car perfectly. He and the getaway driver were arrested about a mile away; they had robbed another young man of his shoes and then stopped for gas half a block from the second robbery.
Almost 13 years later I still have the internal debate with myself over fighting back; but for what? $17? What would I fight for now? My iPad? So some desperate, strung out guy could panic and shoot me? My husband and family would want to bring me back to life and kill me all over again for taking such a risk. I am glad I got the thief with a conscience; I didn't want to testify when it came to his trial, but he had a very long rap sheet and he had pulled a gun on me, which carried minimum sentencing laws. I think of this moment in my life every time I hear about people fighting back against minor crime.