Soooo… I got held up at knifepoint yesterday afternoon.

I was on my way to my eight-year-old student’s house, and the guy followed me into the building and into the elevator, pushed the button for the floor below the one I had pushed, and when the doors closed, pulled out a knife and demanded my mobile phone, in an oddly apologetic tone of voice. It took me a moment to actually see what was going on, because it was dark in the elevator and it had been bright outside.

I know you’re supposed to give muggers what they want to avoid physical harm, but my reaction in the confusion of the moment was to refuse. Just then, the elevator doors opened, and I dashed out and rang every buzzer on the door leading to the hall. The guy was like, “What do you mean, ‘no’?” as the elevator doors shut on him.

Worried that he might try to come back before someone from the hall could answer their door, I went to the stairwell and thought for a minute. He knew which floor I was going to — would he try to meet me up there? Would he wait for me downstairs? Would he try the stairwell too? I decided to call Vanya’s so that they could be ready to open the door for me when I got to the floor.

I took the stairs the rest of the way up, and Vanya’s grandma let me in and was very sympathetic. She came in with something to drink which I understood was to calm my nerves, and at first I thought it was a shot, but when I drank it it reminded me of some herbal medicines I used to take when I was more of a hippie. Maybe it was like Rescue Remedy, which I used to hear other hippies talk about all the time, though I never really understood exactly what it was for. Anyway, it was effective.

It was a pretty scary experience, but I wasn’t harmed and I didn’t even lose anything. Frankly, I’ve been pretty lucky, having spent a total over 9 months of my life in St. Petersburg and having been pickpocketed only once prior to this. I’ve heard some much more serious horror stories. For that matter, I lived in sketchy neighborhoods of Washington, DC, for five years and never had anything bad happen to me, though I heard some serious horror stories there as well.

Today I’ll write down all the numbers in my mobile phone, which I’ve been meaning to do for ages. And, as Kostia said, never ever ride the lift with men I don’t know.

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