This is close to 34 years ago. I was newly married to Jack, who was still piloting for Pan Am. He was flying in and out of Miami and had a hotel room for a week. I stayed in the room during the nights, but during the days I went shopping, visited friends, and on this one night, went to dinner with the best man from our wedding, Benn.
When we got back to his place, I took our car and was driving back to the hotel. There was a convenience store near the hotel, and I stopped to buy beer and chips to have in our room when Jack came in, towards midnight.
I parked my car 20 feet from the store entrance, as there were also gas pumps there, and then I grabbed my purse (a rather large thing I used for traveling back then) and headed for the door. I had gone about 10 feet when a car sped up behind me, three men jumped out, and came over to me quickly.
I was walking as fast as I could, and one man said, “Yo, what you doing tonight, Mama?”
This scared me, and I grasped the bag strap tighter and started to run, but the other man grabbed me and knocked me down. I fell backward onto my bottom. That’s when the beating and the tug of war began.
Since my purse was under my rather plump butt, they tried kicking me, dragging me, punching me, and slapping me. Eleven people stood by watching this happen until one 70-year-old Cuban man came at them with a tire iron. The three men jumped back into the car, and their driver zoomed off and onto the highway.
The worker at the store and the Cuban man helped me into the store, and we went into a lock-down until the police arrived.
I called my friend, who arrived before the police. I was covered in blood, the backs of my legs had road rash badly, and my clothes were torn.
After giving my statement to the police, (who were not too worried about me because the thieves never got my purse!), our friend, Benn, took me to the hotel.
Jack, Me, and Benn in 1988.
He told me to get in a warm bath to try to soak away the pebbles that had become embedded in the backs of my legs. I grabbed my robe and disappeared sobbing into the bathroom.
I soaked and soaked, and it seemed to calm me down, and somehow getting out of those torn clothes helped too.
After a bit, there was a knock on the door. Then Benn knocked on the bathroom door and asked if I had any cash? “Yeah, they didn’t get my purse!”
Well, that got me curious, so I climbed out of the bath, dried, and got on my robe. Then I came out, just in time to see Benn opening a bottle of champagne!
“What is that?” I asked
“Dom Pérignon Champagne. After all, how often do you get mugged?”
He poured it for me, and I drank it down. After the second glass, I felt dizzy and a little sleepy. Benn tucked me into bed, and I started to cry again. So, he sat down on the bed, put his feet up, and wrapped me in his arms, where I eventually fell asleep.
Two hours later, Jack opened the door to find that scene. He says he immediately knew something very bad had happened, because of the look on Benn’s face. They’d been in Vietnam together, shared a flat for commuting in Berlin, Germany together, and had shared many dire situations. Benn, my rescuer.
The next day, Jack wrapped my legs in gauze, and then I prepared for a long flight to Costa Rica. I was still in bad shape, but a wonderful Flight Attendant, named Regi kept me pleasantly buzzed during the entire trip. (Must note here: Pan Am required all female pass riders to wear skirts and hose back then. Thank the good lord for gauze! After wrapping my legs, Jack helped get me into the hose.)
Although this was a bad experience, memories of my friend, Benn coming to my rescue, buying me champagne, and holding me while I sobbed, meant more to me than words can ever say.
That night, Benn was my hero.