She walked through that same street she walks every day. The same houses, same trees, same lights, she paid no attention to them, it was all the same. She worked two blocks from the main avenue, and lived about 6 blocks away on the other side.  When she gets to the main avenue, she thought, she would check her balance at the bank. She didn`t notice the man walking to the opposite direction, wearing jeans and striped shirt. Every time she noticed someone suspicious walking towards her, she would cross the street and pretend being interested on something on the other side. She was terrified of muggers. And who would have guessed that this middle-class looking man would be about to rob her? He approached her next to a tree, showed the knife in his pocket, and demanded for her purse.

–          Oh my God! – her heart beating as fast as it can – Please, my kid`s medicine is in it. Look, I`ll give you my money…

–          Ok! Ok! Just give me your wallet. – He thought for a second and decided he needed to sound more frightening – And your mobile, pass me the mobile!

–          OK, here! – terrified, she took the huge cell phone out of her purse, making it look a lot lighter. The artifact was probably several years old.

–          And that`s all you have? – he asked while he took the 50 bucks out of her wallet.

–          Yes, yes, it is! I swear!

–          Right.

It`s hard to tell if it was because of Josiane`s expression of fear, or because of the giant dinosaur cell phone, or  because of the kid`s medicine, but  something  on the crime scene touched Vanderlei`s heart. He was already looking to the sides to see if there was anyone watching them and run away when he turned back to Josiane, scaring her out again, and started to explain himself.

–          Look, I`m sorry…

Josiane`s eyes were wide open, but she was less scared now and more curious.

–          I am ill, you know, I got AIDS. The medicines are so expensive and I end up in the hospital every week, I had no other way out. I hope you understand.

–          But… – she was getting emotional – Have you looked for help? You know, government help? There are some projects that help people in your conditions.

–          It`s all bullshit! They help a couple of people and say they are doing their part, throw commercials on TV and make all that noise, all lies! You see, Ma`m… I`m sorry, what`s your name?

–          It`s Bruna – she didn`t think long to answer, than realized he had her wallet with her ID in it – Josiane, I`m sorry, it`s the habit.

–          I understand, we can`t trust people now a days.

Jo was feeling comfortable already.

–          Yeah, especially when they rob you!  – she laughed, he joined her.

–          How rude of me! Taking your wallet with all your documents, it`s so much work to get new ones and you`ve got kids to take care of. Here, take it back.

He took the money and gave her back her wallet.

–          Oh, wow! Thank you!

–          You can have this back too.

He gave her back her mobile. He didn`t notice her expression of dislike, the phone was covered by insurance.

–          Well – said Jo – can you walk me to the main avenue then? It`s only one block ahead.

He stared at her, suspicious.

–          Oh, no! – she hurried to explain herself – I won`t even go to the police, I just want to avoid any more trouble. It`s getting dark now, what if someone else try to mug me and I don`t have any money left? What would they do to me? Would you believe me if I said: hey, sorry, I don`t have any money, some other mugger took it 5 minutes ago, maybe he`s a friend of yours. He would stab me for the disrespect.

Vanderlei laughed, but took a step back.

–          Sorry Josiane, I hope you understand. I also have a son, we are waiting for the exams. Let`s hope he doesn`t have the virus.

–          Oh, yeah, let`s hope so. Good luck! And Good luck on your treatment.

–          Thank you.

They walked away, like 2 old friends that met on the street.

As soon as Jo got home she started to tell her sister what happened.

–          Jesus, Jo! You got robbed?

–          Yeah, he had a knife and took my money!

–          You must call the police! – but Jo already had her phone in hands.

–          I have a more important call to make… Hello! Yeah, I`d like to cancel my cell phone`s insurance. You want to know why? I`ll tell you why! Because the mugger gave it back, that`s why!


If you like big cities, São Paulo is a great place to live. Loads of things to do, awesome nightlife, expositions, parties, crazy people everywhere and art is all over the city. But as one of the biggest cities in the world, Sao Paulo has its problems too. One of them, that is probably among the most serious ones, is the crime. Although crime could happen anywhere, in a huge city with millions of people living together, it tends to happen more often. Robbery is no exception. Last time I read news about it, they announced that something around 80.000 cases of robbery, of all kinds, happen per semester in the city. Statistically thinking, if you are part of the 18 million “paulistanos” who spent most part of their lives in the city, you`re more likely to be killed by lightning than die without ever being robbed. So if you are not part of that statistic yet, you should be worried!
That`s how I used to feel every time someone got robbed, worried. If you ever get robbed in Sao Paulo and tell anyone about it, you will notice how the group of people around you will raise, as they each tell their own exciting robbery stories. It felt strange every time they looked at me expecting a story and I simply had nothing to tell. I was the lucky one. But everyone knew, and I knew it well myself, that sooner or later I`d either get robbed or struck by lightning. All I had left was the expectation: when is it going to happen?
When the time came I was well prepared. It was 3 in the afternoon, the sun was shining. I was on my way to work, pretty distracted, and didn`t realize how deserted that street was. I felt someone walking past me, so I looked only in time to hear him say: “I just want your wallet and your cell-phone”. At this point you feel like someone just punched your stomach, but I remained calm. I noticed the second man behind me and evaluated my chances. The street was completely empty. For some reason not even cars were passing by. So I decided there was no point on running or screaming. I always planned what I would do if I saw myself in that situation, but I never actually thought I would put it in practice. I realized then, that plan B was on. I would have a lot of trouble substituting all the documents and cards I had in my wallet, so I announced to have medicine in my wallet, and asked if I could give them just the money. The guy in front of me seemed to hesitate as I calmly negotiated with my robbers. The other one behind me simply said: “Yeah, let her keep the medicine, we`ll take the money”. The other one agreed, as I took 12 bucks out of my wallet. “That`s all I have”, I said, while one of them tried to reach for my phone in my purse. “Ok”, one of them said, “here, keep two”, and he handed me 2 Reais back. I didn`t know what to say, so I said “thank you”, realizing the other one had not only found my phone, but also my Ipod. They disappeared behind some trees, telling me to keep walking.
After stopping at a cafeteria to call the mobile company to block my stolen phone, I got to work with that “I can`t believe it finally happened” expression on my face and told my story to my co-workers. Someone bought me a pastry and a soda, and we were soon telling each other our stories. It almost felt like a celebration, I had finally become statistically normal.