M y teenaged son, Adam, also known as Captain Kabob, was mugged on the streets of Jeddah last night - ironically the night before the start of Ramadan, the holiest month of the year for Muslims. He made a bad decision and mistakenly got into a car he thought was a taxi and he was taken for a ride, robbed and shoved out of the moving vehicle. He was fortunate. He could have been more seriously injured than he was, beaten up or sexually assaulted or even killed. And the thugs only got away with his mobile phone, when they could have taken his backpack which had his computer in it or his brand new 16 Gig IPOD he got in the states this summer. He was indeed lucky.
Adam has taken taxis here in Jeddah before and he has had very good experiences. My husband and I agreed to let him go to a friend's home to spend Friday night. It would be his last opportunity to do this before his school starts on Sunday. He packed up his clothes, toothbrush, and his computer into his school backpack and headed out the door around 6pm, before dark. Taxis are abundant here in Jeddah since women cannot drive themselves, and one always comes around within minutes if you are walking along the street.
A dark car pulled up alongside Adam. The warning signs were there that should have tipped my son off that something was just not right. The car did not have the identifying TAXI light on top of the car, but it had some gold lettering on the outside that Adam could not read. The car had TWO young Yemenese men inside who told him they operated as a taxi and they could take him where he needed to go. Adam said "No!" and continued walking. The car caught up with him and somehow those thugs talked him into getting into the car with them. My big, hairy teenage son, who has always been taught by me since he was a small child to be careful and not to get into cars with strangers, accepted their made up tale about being a taxi and got into the car!
Now Adam hasn't wanted to talk much about the incident since it happened, so I'm not exactly sure how it all went down. Adam made a phone call to his friend to tell him that he was on his way. When Adam hung up, one of the thugs asked to see his phone, so Adam handed it over. Now Adam's phone admittedly was much nicer than the cheap phones my husband and I have, but it was not the most expensive by far, plus it was two years old. Then before he knew it, Adam was being forced, pushed and kicked out of the moving car. He tumbled out onto the street, and luckily his backpack came with him - the computer was not damaged, thank goodness. A woman in the car behind saw the whole thing and told her son to stop and assist Adam. The kind young man brought Adam home. He was bleeding and had scraped both elbows and had abrasions on his back, and his wrist was swollen and hurting. We immediately took Adam to a clinic to have him cleaned up and to have his wrist checked. It was not broken, just badly sprained. His wrist was wrapped up and Adam was given a shot and a couple of prescriptions. We also called to have the service on his phone disconnected.
My husband was horrified that something like this could happen to our son here in Jeddah. Crime is a lot lower here than in the states, mostly because of the swift and severe punishments that are handed out, if one is caught and convicted. But this shows that we are not immune to bad things happening to us here, or anywhere. There are some pretty bad people out there. I'm just thankful that Adam is okay and that all they took from him was phone. Now we'll just have to work on his bruised ego...
P.S. - I must add that a week ago, my phone fell out of my pocket while I was in a taxi here in Jeddah. When I realized it was missing, we called my number and the taxi driver answered the phone. My husband gave him directions to our home and he drove all the way to deliver my phone. When my husband tried to give him a reward, the man didn't want to accept the money, but my husband insisted. There are plenty of good people here in Jeddah.
UPDATE: Aug. 29 we took Adam to a bone specialist because he was complaining about the pain in his hand, and sure enough, the metacarpal V bone is fractured. For now he will not have a cast, but if the pain persists, he will.