Crossing the Line, Chicago Style

After Seth’s altercation as a 2nd grader, he had to wait 15 years before anyone else crossed the line with him.  Unfortunately, this time the odds were stacked heavily against him, and the outcome wasn’t quite as successful.  Around 3:00 p.m. he was in the middle of his daily hour long commute home from his classes at the University of Chicago.  He was doing homework on his iPad that he purchased specifically to maximize productivity during his extended time on public transportation.  As the train pulled into one of the numerous stops on the line, he failed to look up from his seat by the door of the car.  Five young men exited the train, and the last of the group reached down and grabbed the iPad from Seth’s hand.  It’s impossible to know whether the action was spontaneous or planned, but regardless of the strategy, Seth’s quick response was probably not a consideration.

I’m sure Seth’s slight build and studious nature wouldn’t create the expectation that he would do anything to defend his possessions beyond shouting at the thieves which would have been the prudent response.  In this case, instinct overshadowed intellect and he grabbed the culprit by his shoulder and pulled the iPad from his hands.  Since the would-be thief was exiting from the train, his momentum pulled Seth onto the train platform where he suddenly found himself surrounded by the “Fab Five” who were none to happy that he had resisted.  As the first punch split his lip, he dropped to the ground to retrieve the iPad, cradling it beneath him as his assailants tried to pull it away.  Fortunately, the security cameras in the area kept the punching and kicking that followed to a minimum or his injuries might have been serious.  The worst damage was done to his faith in humanity as the 20 plus people on the platform and the occupants of the train car stood by watching the beating without as much as a shout of disapproval even though Seth yelled repeatedly for help.  The only positive outcome was the fact that the spectators on the train were blocking the door, so it didn’t leave without him.  After the thugs moved on, he got back on the train, found a police station at the next stop where he filed a report, and allowed the officers to call an ambulance so he could get checked out in the ER.

He did a pretty good job making the phone call to me as his first words were to reassure me that he was okay with only the split lip, a black eye, and numerous contusions being the full extent of his injuries.  We have discussed the incident at length on numerous occasions and he thinks his fight record is 1-1 since he took a pretty good beating without landing a punch himself.  I contend that he is 2-0 since the odds were 5 against 1, and they didn’t get the iPad.  Either way he’s not destined for the UFC!  After discussing several alternate outcomes for the incident, I hope he will have a more thoughtful response in the future if anyone ever crosses the line, Chicago style.

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