Shitty Things Happen Sometimes.
On Wednesday, October 5th 2016, right in my hometown of San Francisco, I got mugged.
Let me backtrack for a moment.
I live in Los Angeles. The city of horrible dates (not that I would know), crazy dieting (also, not that I would know), and entertainment. I haven’t seen any actual angels like the name suggests but I’ve met gems of human beings there. It’s been my home for the past 6 years and if I could sum up my experience in one word — it‘s been fun. The type of fun that feels fulfilling, true, and worthwhile.
As such, I am a filmmaker by trade. And even that feels a little too boastful a title for a guy who owns a camera and a Vimeo account. The truth is that I am in a vague area of arts. I design, I create, I write. Sometimes I draw. But not good. Terrible, actually.
Three weeks ago, I looked back on my own life and realized I had a grand story staring back at me: my father.
You see, my father is an interesting guy. Born in China during the Mao regime, he’s one of the many refugees who chose to risk death by swimming from Mainland China to Macau, escaping for a better life. He survived, thank God, eventually made his way to America and, poof, I’m now 28 and am a living testament to his bravery. Pretty great, right?
So I decide to drive up back home to San Francisco, listen to his story, and put it on film. Oh man. It’s going to be awesome. We’ll hang, we’ll eat, we’ll laugh. We’ll actually connect with one another: a concept that has completely evaded the 7,000-year-old Chinese culture.
After a few days, I decide to drive up to the incredibly renowned Cliff House. I want to shoot some views of the Pacific Ocean because water shots are arguably the most important part of any documentary. It’s 3pm — and a bunch of other tourists and photographers know the same secret. I plop down my tripod, camera, lens, and I soak in the great Bay Area view that many people come all over to see.
And that’s when it happened.
I looked to my right when two men, seemingly in their young 20’s and from a Latin/Philippine descent, rush toward me. They shove me down and grab my camera rig setup.
And without thinking, I immediately get up and start chasing them.
In hindsight, I realize this wasn’t smart. They could’ve had knives, guns, bombs, laser eyes, the ability to fly, the list goes on. And better yet, I don’t have an actual rational reason for chasing them — other than the fact that I wanted my shit back.
In split seconds, I see the guy with my camera, we’ll call him Asshole Jason, jump into a car, with 3 other Assholes inside. The second guy, henceforth known as Asshole Chad, stays far back, for some reason.
I reach into the car, grabbing the long legs of my tripod, and try to yank it away. All the Assholes in the car are surprised. I guess it’s my ignorance, my fantastic hair, or my amazing physical tenacity that they are impressed by. Nonetheless, the car starts to drive away — WITHOUT ASSHOLE CHAD IN THE CAR.
They stop after a second, and when the Assholes realize I’m not letting go, they gun it. The sheer momentum of the car and the law of relativity (damn you Einstein) is too much, even for a mortal like me. I let go, and roll down the hill a few times. (True story: Two days ago, the Special Investigator in charge of my case said to me, “I saw the tape. Man. You rolled far.”)
As my vision comes back to me, I see Asshole Chad in a full sprint down the hill. I look around to see tourists looking back at me. I look back at them. Stunned. The whole thing was over in a matter of seconds.
Thankfully, a homeless man (I think) tells me to call the police. I do. They come. They call for an ambulance as well.
And for the following hour, my life is royal mess. Thank God for the patient policemen who came and helped sort out my thoughts. Thank God for the medics who helped clean my wounds — while simultaneously trying to cheer me up by keeping a light atmosphere. I don’t know how I’m ever going to fully thank the people who helped me that day, but if they ever get a chance to read this, I’d love to buy you all the alcohol and red meat that you want.
For now, I have to figure out a way to finish this documentary — the drive to finish is stronger now more than ever. I’m still trying to track down American Express and Best Buy to see if they have any leniencies in their policy regarding theft or robbery. Until then, the show must go on.
I have a lot to say to these guys. I have a lot to say to people who have experienced the same trauma as I have. And I have a lot to say to myself, when I look in the mirror at night.
For now, I’ll start with: Shitty things happen sometimes. You got to move on. On your own time, of course, but you’ve got to move on.
The rest of my thoughts will all have to wait for another day while I try to sort out the details of my life in the aftermath.