I knew I was in trouble when the taxi turned left.
It was 11:30 pm on a Monday night the 2nd of December, 2013. I had just left an upscale sports bar after watching the Patriots loose a close home game to the Packers on Monday night football. I walked out to the street, feeling satisfied with the game, and as usual hailed a taxi. I jumped in the back seat and gave the driver instructions to drive me back to my apartment. I knew the route, so when the driver unexpectedly turned left onto a small side street and began slowing to a stop, I knew that I had a problem. A BIG PROBLEM.
WHAM!!! 3 doors opened and in jumped 3 smelly Ecuadorian thugs shouting and screaming at me in Spanish. The big guy on my right hovered over the top of me making jabbing movements toward my face with a 12 ” screw driver held threateningly in his right hand. The guy on my left grabbed my left arm and pinned it between his legs while quickly using his left hand to rub some kind of pepper paste in my eyes blinding me instantly.
The chaos and shouting was frighteningly intimidating to say the least. My blinded eyes were burning causing me to scream out in pain while the two thugs were punching me with short glancing blows on the side of my face and body—I felt a sense of fear begining to suffocate my entire being. Deep inside my brain my first thought came over me like a black cloud saying—“they finally got me and I am in very big trouble”. Which was true. Here I was in a strange country where I didn’t speak the language, outnumbered and totally compromised by some very bad guys with no idea what the hell they had in mind or what would happen next.
They quickly emptied the pockets of my jeans of $60 cash, my debit card and my brand new California drivers license along with a $400 sports watch I was wearing and my cheap Nokia mobile phone. What else could they want? KIdnap me for ransome? Kill me for fun? Beat me silly out of a prejudicial hate for foriengn gringos? These thoughts filled my mind as I felt a level of fear, the likes of which I had never before experienced in 22 years of foreign travel, begin to take me over completely.
The guy in the front seat appeared to be the boss. Like the other three he spoke no English except to say “I want MONEY”. “Esta tarjet credit o debit?” “Debit” I replied. “Que es su numero pin” he demanded. With that the two thugs on either side increased the intensity of the punching in my face and stomach as if to let me know that I had better answer quickly and correctly or I would soon be getting a “real” beating. ” OK OK OK” I shouted hoping they would stop so I could respond with the number.
Giving your PIN number to a thief who has just stolen your card is the most unnatural response you can imagine—however when the alternative choice could include having a 12″ screwdriver jabbed into your eyes and face the choice becomes very simple. I quickly calculated that my downside financial risk was at most $2000 so the answer became very easy—“ocho, cinco, seis , ohco I shouted three times at my captors. “Es numero correcto hombre?” “Si si” I replied. With that he opened his door and was gone while the taxi sped away into the night.
So here I was blinded, sitting between between these two foul smelling low life Ecuadorian thugs, each pinning one of my arms between there legs holding me helpless while the taxi continued to move through Quito at a high rate of speed going I knew not where. Awaiting my fate whatever that might be. There was no use trying to resist so I decided to go completely passive letting my ams fall totally limp not saying a word. I had heard a former Navy Seal on Fox News tell what to do if caught in a similar situation. “Formulate a plan as best you can—then execute” he had said so my plan became one of complete passivity.
I was scared—really scared—“Please Jesus” I prayed to myself”protect me and bind these agents of Satan from doing me bodily harm.” The Jesus I know is a God who hears and answers prayer so as I continued to pray this prayer I felt a strange sense of peace and calm come over me. What are they going to do I kept thinking? I knew they were going to get at least $1000 tonight which was the banks daily limit. Would they hold me for days taking another $1000 each day till my money ran out and then let me go or kill me when the money was gone? As it turned out the guy got his $1000 at 11:55 p.m. and could have gone back for another $1000 6 minutes later at 12:01 am but he wasn’t that smart.
After about 45 minutes of continual high speed driving I heard them starting to laugh and talk loudly amongst themselves. They had received the call telling them of the money which they would now get. Cautiously I took the laughing as a good sign—at least they didn’t sound pissed. Finally the taxi slowed and pulled to the side of the road. My two thug buddies opened there doors and got out—was this where they were going to beat the hell out of their victim for fun and leave him by the side of the road. Still blinded I felt hands pull me from the car and stand me up by a roadside wall—then thankfully I heard two doors slam and the sound of the taxi driveoff into the night. Jesus once again had answered my prayer as I stood unharmed and unseeing leaning up against the wall thinking “I am getting way to old for this.”