Thursday, November 17, 2005

Missing ring fingers

Richard called for another volunteer, and picked a lovely dark-haired woman whose son had been the robber in the previous scenario. She was the one who’d sat in the front row during the first half of the course. When Richard had asked, at one point, “What would you do, madam, if the police tried to pull you over on the highway, while you’re driving?”

“Shoot at them!”

“Madam,” Richard laughed, “You have a truly violent nature!”

So Mrs. Violent settled herself into the driving seat, and Richard closed her car door. He talked about the importance of making slow, obvious movements, because robbers are nervous and trigger-happy, and with any sudden fright, muscles contract, and if your hijacker’s finger is on the trigger of a gun, well... one can have some unfortunate and unexpected results.

Suddenly, “BLAM!”

“BLAM BLAM BLAM!” Mrs. V screamed, involuntarily, inside the BMW, as Richard slammed the flat of his palm against the driver’s side window.

“Makes a helluva noise, doesn’t it? When they hit your window with a spark plug, it sounds like an explosion when the glass shatters. Now, same thing. Hands up. Cross your right hand over to unbuckle, unlock the doors with the central locking.” Mrs. V was better than Blonde Girl with left and right.

“Now,” continued Richard, “you must get out of the car and away from it as quickly and smoothly as possible. Don’t look at your attackers. Don’t make eye contact. Get out, turn sideways, and scrunch your neck down into your shoulder blades as much as possible. Put your arm and hand up to shield your head and neck. Turning sideways gives them less to aim at, and you want to put more bones (like arm bones and ribs) between a bullet and your head or vital organs. Obviously, any bullet IS going to go through your arm or hand, but at least you’ve slowed it down a little before it hits your head or your heart.

We all looked a little pale at this point.

“And then, they may still rob you too. Hand over your wallet, anything they ask for. And for heaven’s sake, ladies, when they point at your rings, hand them over too. If you can’t get your ring off, DO NOT under ANY circumstances put your finger in your mouth, to spit on it so you can get it off more easily. That can give him the terrible idea... to put YOUR finger in
HIS mouth... and bite your finger off. Through flesh, through bone. Heckuva lot easier to take your ring off when your finger’s not attached to your body anymore.”

Apparently, the wife of an executive at ABSA bank here in South Africa has a missing ring finger. She, as well as six other wealthy women in Jo’burg who kept their rings on one day longer than they should have.

So, since I play the piano, albeit not brilliantly, I’ve given up wearing rings. A missing fourth finger on my left hand would make things difficult. Although Alex, my jazz piano teacher, could probably still have me playing the blues. I’d just have even more to be blue about.

As a postscript, we were talking with Mrs. Violent and Richard after the class was over, and it turned out her husband had himself been attacked. He was shot six times, and he’s completely lost the use of his left arm. That’s why SHE was there, with her son. I guess that would change your life.

Let’s hope we all stay out of harm’s way.

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