With my handy 9-inch razor sharp box cutter:
So yesterday I’m coming back from the wonderful museum that Diego Rivera built for his collection of pre-Columbian art. It’s raining, I’ve walked about 2km before finding a rickety autobus that will take me the other 4-5km to the last station on the Metro line that will take me back downtown.
Now I’m not afraid on the Metro. I realize that the reason everyone stares at me is because I’m a giant blonde gringo.
I’ve never sensed any hostility. In fact, many of the wonderful Mexican people I’ve encountered on public transit here in Mexico City and in Merida and the Yucatan have been friendly and helpful. But I am alert. Always.
When I was preparing for my trip I read several articles about traveling here and one suggested, because they might get confiscated at a check point, not carrying anything like the usual Victorinox Swiss Army Knife and Leatherman Mini-Tool that are always in my pocket at home (I am a hardware guy after all). But to just buy a cheap one after you get here. The boxcutter filled the bill nicely and has been quite handy a few times.
So, soaked and a bit bedraggled, I finally made it to the Universidad station, the last one on the line. As I got to the middle of the platform I spotted five guys who were trying but failing to look like they weren’t together.
One, who definitely gave off an Alpha vibe, checked me out and said something that made the rest turn and look at me. This, of course, might have meant nothing, but I am cautious and so I took up a position with my back against a free standing sign with my shoulder bag in front.
It was then, looking ‘casually’ around that I noticed that two of the louts had moved to my other side. My wallet and phone were in a zipped pocket and my credit card and ID in another pouch under my shirt. There was nothing of any great value in my bag but losing its contents, my sketchbook and postcards and lunch, would be a drag.
So I casually pulled the boxcutter out of my pocket and extended its four inch (11cm) blade with its notably loud clicking and began to use its tip to slowly and methodically ‘clean’ my fingernails while pointedly ignoring the group.
Out of the corner of my eye I could see that the two on my left had re-joined the leader, were talking, and as group they moved off down the platform. And I moved to another spot in the opposite direction.
Now I’m not saying the sight of my little blade, however sharp, was a deterrent. If they had planned to cut my bag’s strap and run then they were likely just as well, if not better, armed.
But I do believe that, as was my intention, it sent a message that was not a naïve and inattentive tourist, an easy mark.
Would I have used it if I had been assaulted?
Probably not. But I learned a long time ago that the only way to ‘win’ a fight is to make it not happen.