Street Justice

 Posted by on October 12, 2006  Elephants, JourneyMan, Thoughts, Updates
Oct 122006

Another pic for my Dad’s book, to illustrate a story about the Bangkok police implanting working elephants with tracking devices, to keep them off of the downtown streets:

Lately I have been in lockdown; just sleeping or working on the illustrations, with periodic breaks to eat, when I normally head out of the house to an internet cafe. I can get some change of scenery, food and some emails (and maybe a quick blog post!) done all in one go. I needed just such a break a few nights ago but it was late in the evening and the cosy internet-cafe I normally go to for such a break was closed. So I took my laptop over to another cafe that I knew was open late. It was crowded inside and the music was loud, so I sat outside in the fresh air to do some emailing and web-surfing on my laptop as I drank my hot chocolate. Late in the evening is a good time to send emails to Australia (where the book production is happening) because the working day has already begun down there. I had just sent an email to the designer of the ELEPHANT book, when some snatch-and-grab/crack-head scooped my laptop and ran off with it, bolting downhill into San Francisco’s charming Tenderloin neighbourhood.


After a brief startled pause, I gave chase, trying to make up the head-start he had on me, sometimes running down the road in the oncoming traffic. I was giving this pursuit everything I had, and there was some great motivation: ALL the artwork for my dear old Dad’s Elephant book was on that laptop! As I chased the junky, the life of the ELEPHANT BOOK was flashing before my eyes… After about three blocks running as hard as I could, he wasn’t getting any further away, but I wasn’t getting closer either and I was reaching the limit of my middle aged adrenaline capacity, whereas he had both youth and the performance enhancing properties of CRACK on his side. I didn’t think that I could keep up with him for much longer…

Mercifully, I was helped out by some folks in the street, who clearly read the situation when they saw a wiry dude clutching a laptop chased by a red-faced puffy bloke screaming obscenities. They realised that they needed to intervene and spare me a heart attack. Several people on sidewalks along the way tried to grab the thief or trip him up, and a few times he did stumble, giving me the chance to gain on him. Pretty soon there was one hell of a hulla-balloo; random passers by yelling “STOP THAT GUY!” and me yelling stuff I can’t write here. As he rounded a corner, a group of people who had time to react in advance, tripped the thief up for good and I got the laptop back…

In other good news, one of the guys who tripped up the evil doer absolutely beat the stuffings out of him, after wrenching the laptop out of his fingers. This BADASS Samaritan briefly paused his expert pummelling of the baddie to give me a chance to get in some hits myself (almost like he was graciously offering me the last slice of a tasty desert) but I declined; I was too busy gripping onto the laptop with both hands… and bent double trying to get my breath back. Besides, the (muscular, tattooed, and menacing) dude beating on the baddie was doing a superb job on his own, and I didn’t want to mess up his syncopating rhythm. So the miscreant definately got a form of punishment before he limped away, and he didn’t look in very good condition…

Even though the wretch was tried, convicted and punished in the court of STREET JUSTICE, In hindsight I should have held him and called the cops, because that very same creep is probably going to pull the very same slimy move again… Although after that savage walloping, his getaway speed may not be quite as impressive… I really wasn’t thinking straight. I ALSO ought to have gotten the name of the anonymous avenger who helped me out (a tattooed SUPER HERO in my eyes) so I could buy him dinner, a beer or a monogrammed pair of brass-knuckles or something. He was in the middle of helping some friends move, and they just headed off after shaking my hand. I did get a chance to thank him profusely, between gulps of oxygen, but I really should have got his phone number for a follow up…

But at that point I was already pre-occupied with the thought that I had left my shoulder bag on the table outside the coffee shop 3 blocks away and that it contained my check-book and some other stuff. It occurred to me that if this thief was an experienced operator he would have a partner to scoop my bag when I head off in pursuit. So I ran as fast as I could back to the cafe… When I got there, sure enough, my bag was gone and I figured that I had to call the bank and tell them a check-book had been stolen… but I still counted myself very lucky that I had gotten my laptop back especially when I found out that, remarkably, despite the crack-head’s spectacular sprawling wipe-out, it seems to be working OK…

At that point a guy came up and congratulated me on getting it back. He had seen the snatch from across the street and wanted to hear the story of its recovery. I told him what had happened, and that the only minor bummer was the loss of my bag. He told me that my bag wasn’t stolen; it was now waiting for me in the coffee shop as he had taken it in there for safe-keeping. I was very lucky to have had so many people help me out that day. Even now, a few days later, I get horror-shudders when I consider what today would be like if I had NOT gotten my laptop back…


  35 Responses to “Street Justice”

  1. Geez Jamie- What a mess! I’m sorry you had to go through that, but those people that helped you out are great, for going out on a limb. As I read, I thought your bag was gone for sure,towards the end, but was relieved to read the happy ending. Things could’ve easily turned out differently… this latest limited-color elephant peice, is great, by the way!

  2. yikes!!
    sorry you had to go through that Jamie , really happy you were able to get back your stuff…that must have been some really scary moments ..yikes~! stolen from right under your fingers..crazy!
    There are a lot of decent people out there , who given a chance I’m sure are happy to help :)Not a such a bad world after all , uh?
    By the way…this last pic is fan-tas-tic , very very pretty…what were u sying about making “cool” pics ..?

  3. Rhode&Sho>>It’s true… those people really did go out on a limb for me; a total stranger. I just cashed in a HUGE kharma dividend. Come to think of it, it was more likely a Kharma-LOAN that I now have to pay back to the world….

    …which is fine by me!

  4. I cried, I laughed, I worried, and then laughed again… What a great story!!! I’m glad everything turned out ok Jamie! Thanks for sharing…


  5. Sam>>Sounds like you know how i felt that night: I too ran the entire gamut of human emotions (and 4 city-blocks)

  6. This is brilliant!

  7. What a story, Jamie!!

  8. Geez, that is one of the most exasperating cliff-hangers I’ve ever read! I am so glad you recovered that laptop. Geez, to have been reading your posts these last months and then to think all that hard work would vanish….

    ‘Street Justice’ was indeed the correct name for this piece. That bad apple was counterbalanced by the Tattoeed Avenger, and the Elephants move on to their next chapter!

  9. Vigilante sprinter Jamie B!! I was getting shudders as I was reading this. Thank goodness there are a few individuals out there, seething with righteous rage, waiting to give some villain a good trouncing!! I hope your having fun with these elephants, they keep getting better and better!! Thank goodness you have them back to finish!!!

  10. Alina>> I am glad that you like the pic (unless you meant that it was “brilliant” of me to finally get out of the house and get some exercise).

    J>> I know… it is certainly the most dramatic post in this blog so far. Normally my posts are about what I saw on TV, or some doodle I’m working on…

    Jav>> You are right… imagine if I lost all this stuff?! I simply wouldn’t know how to break it to my Dad, (not to mention the publisher) Jeez! i get shivvers just thinking about it…

    BKO>> My impression, from the brief conversations with TATTOOed AVENGER and the guy who had saved my bag, is that people who live in that neighbourhood often have their bikes, bags and other valuables swiped by junkies… So I think I was the beneficiary of a lot of pent-up frustration. T.A. was certainly beating that crack-head hard enough for it to have been HIS OWN laptop that was taken… Some kind of cathartic physical therapy I guess you’d say.

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