I got mugged a long, long time ago. And for years afterwards, I was scared to walk in the dark. Or I'd hear a quick footstep behind me and my heart would start racing.
It took me a number of years to get past it. And even after I stopped having the visceral reactions, I walked around with an increased awareness of my surroundings. And an increased suspicion of men.
I also started listening to my gut instinct, no matter what other people might say about a situation.
But as I said, it was a long time ago, and while I'm careful when I'm walking alone in the dark, for the most part I feel comfortable in my areas of DC and don't spend a lot of time thinking about safety.
Well, I didn't. Until Monday.
So. Since Monday was sunny, I decided to go for a run at lunch.
I don't usually go out running with my iPhone, but I was waiting for a call and so I carried it with me, using it as an iPod.
And there I was, all running along, enjoying the sunshine and the pop music in my ears when all of a sudden a hand grabbed my left hand - the one carrying the iPhone.
He was quick and deliberate, and if I'd had a looser grip, I'd have dropped it. As it was, I was so startled to be grabbed that I pulled my hand in towards my body. And screamed.
If you have never heard me scream, it is a very high pitched, girly screamy scream.
The guy ran about 10 steps ahead of me, crossed the street, and looked back.
I looked to my left, which is where he was looking, and there was another guy about the same age, right next to me.
As I was already running, I kept going. I sprinted around the corner, stuck my phone in my bra, and headed back towards my office.
Both guys were bigger than me, and if they'd wanted to wrestle the phone from me, they could've without great difficulty. I assume that the first guy wanted me to drop it, and the other guy would pick it up.
So technically, nothing really happened.
But what it did was underline how vulnerable I am, even at 12:30 pm on a Monday, in a decent neighborhood. I was on T, just about to hit 17th. There was nobody else on the street in those moments, but it's not a deserted area.
Maybe this kind of thing, where you get scared but you don't get hurt, is a good lesson.
I hate thinking that I need to walk around vigilant.
But maybe as a small woman, I do.