Monday, May 27, 2013

NYC Shopping Brawl

Originally posted in my Facebook notes. Names changed to protect the guilty.

Inquiring minds want to know the details of our NYC shopping trip brawl, so here it is. We were in SoHo, a trendy shopping district in Lower Manhattan. We had just hit Eileen's Special Cheesecake and then headed over to Broadway to begin shopping. Our first stop was Yellow Rat Bastard, a very large (by NYC standards) clothing store. And no, I have no idea why it's called that.

From My Perspective

The dear husband endured browsing for all of three minutes and told us he would stand outside the door to people-watch. The dear daughter and I had moved near the back of the store, our view of the front obstructed by a square structure with columns and a roof that housed the cash register, when we heard a huge ruckus coming from the front of the store. It sounded like a very angry man cursing and yelling and we heard a female(s) screaming as if terrified. My first thought was, "a domestic dispute," since any couple shopping together at Christmastime is certainly on the verge of one at any given moment. My next thought was, "and he could have a gun," since people are crazy and New Yorkers are crazier.

At this point, I shoved the dear daughter down inside the square structure and began to assess my other options while also trying to figure out what was going on. I peeked around one side and could see a lot of people standing around watching. I could see the dear husband's black beanie in the doorway, and I thought, "Why is he just standing there? It must not be too serious." Then the commotion got louder and I ducked down with the dear daughter. Once it quieted, we came out and tiptoed around the other side and began talking quietly with an Australian couple who were just as confused as we were. I commented to the dear daughter, "I can't believe your daddy didn't get involved and stop it."

Then suddenly people were screaming again and running towards us or diving under clothing racks, and I looked up to see a fairly tall black guy running like a mad man, cursing and screaming, down the center of the store. At this point, I grabbed the dear daughter and ran frantically to the very back of the store, looking for a dressing room or storage room. As I was about to dive with her under a table of jeans, a girl pulled back a black curtain and motioned us inside. She apparently had been there the whole time holding a wide-eyed little boy. Feeling immediately as if I had backed us into a corner in this tiny room with no other exit, I began to look for something that could be used as a weapon and found nothing. By this time three other girls joined us. We could still hear a large commotion outside. And for the first time it occurred to me to ask, "Has anyone called 911?" to which one girl answered matter-of-factly in her Bronx accent, "This is New York."

Once that registered in my brain as an emphatic "no," I pulled out my phone and made the call. I had the store's address in my phone calendar (this is the part where my friends all say, "Of course you did") and I began giving details relayed to me by the girls standing with me, "Some crazy man...yes there is blood...no weapons...people are hiding..." When I hung up, I again told the dear daughter, "I just can't believe your daddy didn't stop this guy."

Finally, someone came and told us it was safe to come out. Not being one to get overly excited about things, I went to the cashier to pay for my purchases, which I was still clutching, when I decided to call the dear husband to tell him where we were. As soon as he answered I asked, "Where ARE you?" and he began yelling (my first clue that, oh, he was involved), "I'm downstairs! I'm bleeding! That crazy fool..." at which point I just hung up, turned to the dear daughter and said, "He WAS involved," and moved downstairs.

This photo is the one a store employee took with the dear husband's phone before I came downstairs and took the one from my phone that I posted on Sunday.





From The Dear Husband's Perspective (and some parts filled in by others)

The first ruckus occurred when the black guy, a customer, was leaving the store and stopped at the security desk to pick up the bags he checked earlier. He had a girlfriend with him and they had shopped with no problems noted. For some reason, he began to glare at the guy working the baggage check. The guy behind the counter, being a New Yorker, glared back of course. This turned into words being exchanged and eventually the customer making threats such as, "I know where you work. I'll come back and take care of you." Once threats were made, the guy stepped from behind the counter to show he wasn't intimidated. The girlfriend did what all girls do and acted as if she could hold her boyfriend back. He did what all cowards do and acted as if this was working.

This scene moved into the store a bit, which is what caused girls to scream and spread out. The store guy didn't provoke the crazy guy at all, but simply stood his ground and looked the bully in the eye. Finally, the crazy customer charged the store guy and they began to fight. The store guy defended himself with a few punches to the crazy's head, and then the crazy guy came at him and took him down. While they were fighting, no one was doing anything but watching and screaming, so The dear husband jumped in and attempted to separate them, but they were locked together like two pit bulls. The dear husband yelled for someone to help and guys started helping pull them apart. Another employee inserted a metal bar in the doorway as if to detain the crazy customer, but that maniac pulled out the bar and shoved it to the ground. Thankfully, he didn't think to use it as a weapon! The crazy customer then continued trying to intimidate the other male employees, standing over them, glaring down at them with an aggressive stance.

He then began pointing at the store guy and yelling at the store manager, accusing the store guy of "attacking him," complaining about his shirt being ripped and his glasses being lost. The dear husband quickly spoke up and said, "No that's not what happened and I'll be glad to tell you what happened." The store employees managed to evict the crazy, and the dear husband and the manager began walking to the staircase to go downstairs to write up an account of the events.

With their backs to the store entrance, they heard women screaming and they turned to see the crazy customer charging full speed through the middle of the store, yelling and cussing like a mad man. Assumingly, he was headed to the back of the store where the store guy was located. The dear husband was just over halfway to the back of the store and his first thought was, "I've got to stop this guy." He considered tripping him, but realized that would still leave the guy free to make a move. With only a split second to take a couple of steps forward, he leaned his shoulder down and rammed the guy right below the rib cage. The impact, as you can imagine, was forceful and their bodies twisted just a bit, which allowed the dear husband to turn the guy's momentum the other way and the dear husband began to drive the guy backwards through the store and through five or six very full clothing racks, which is how the dear husband's head was cut.

Once the two hit a wall, the dear husband picked up the crazy and rammed him flat on the floor and held him down. The guy probably had no idea at this point what had just happened, as his insanity had been focused on his target, the store guy. He tried to punch the dear husband, but the dear husband had him "so tied up" that he couldn't move. At one point, the dear husband began trying to recover his own phone and glasses, and the guy managed to flip over on him, but the dear husband somehow managed to keep him contained. (This would be about the time I was calling 911.)

Thankfully, the store employees then broke them apart. This was the crazy customer's first look at the dear husband, who was suddenly the new enemy. The crazy, with a bewildered look, began yelling and cussing again, wanting more! The store employees then took the dear husband downstairs to clean the blood and calm him down. The crazy customer managed to run out before the police arrived.

The firefighter/paramedic was like a guy from any crime fighting NYC television show. He had the accent and the language and the humor. He told the dear husband, "Now go get you a knife and if you see him again, just gut that SOB (insert sound effects). That coward. He took the subway at Canal Street and he's in Brooklyn by now." These guys, the FDNY and the NYPD, were very kind and helpful and were quite impressed with the dear husband's bravery.

Within a few hours, the dear husband's elbow was in great pain and he could barely move his arm. After being covered in prayer by our friends from the South and sleeping with a heating pad, his arm had full range of motion and the pain subsided. He now has some pain in the shoulder and a stiff neck, but says it was well worth it.


We will never forget our New York experience, and I feel quite certain the crazy customer will never forget his South Georgia experience.

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