PURSE SNATCHING IS NOT FUNNY. Let’s start with that. But for educational purposes, we have to make one tiny exception for the novice who picked my friend Emily as his first mark. I urge every purse owner to read this and memorize what not to do.
My friends were strolling down the street after a concert when the purse grabber arrived. He walked briskly past his first options—Angie, a kindergarten teacher smaller than most of her class, and Lisa, an accountant who won’t eat until after tax season. He stopped beside Emily, a gentle youth group leader who could play center for the Steelers.
With no formal training in victim selection, Snatcher looked her in the eye and stepped closer. They paused for a “Do I know you?” moment as her friends assumed someone from church stopped to give her a hug.
Then he grabbed Emily’s purse.
Time Out: Before we go any further, you need to understand Emily’s purse. It’s only a purse in the sense that it holds stuff and hangs from her shoulder, but size-wise, it’s more like a U-Haul. By rights, this purse should have monster truck tires and a double axle.
So Snatcher grabbed, and Emily clenched. Her brain cells screamed to let the purse go, but her muscles locked down like crocodile jaws on a buffalo. The purse was going nowhere. Nor was Snatcher.
At this point, her friends realized this guy wasn’t from the youth group, but they were too petrified to scream. Instead, Angie began waddling back and forth like a duck in a carnival shooting gallery, waving her arms and mumbling, “Give him the purse. Please, Emily, just give him the purse.”
Lisa hid behind a bush, trying to yell, but couldn’t find her vocal cords. “Help” was stuck silently on her tongue.
Meanwhile Emily realized her car keys were in the purse and without them, no one was leaving. So she made Snatcher an offer he was too dumb to refuse. “Look, you can have my money, but first I get my keys.” Being a novice, he agreed.
Emily began tossing purse innards to Snatcher. Out came lipstick, Crock-Pots, Mardi Gras beads, a yoga mat and her wallet, but no keys. She kept tossing as Snatcher’s arms spread wider for the pile of stuff already up to his chin.
Emily found her keys about 4 feet down. “Oh, thank God,” she whispered, plucking her wallet from Snatcher’s pile.
At that point, Angie stopped waddling long enough to ask Lisa if she just saw Emily hand over her wallet and then take it back. Still voiceless, Lisa nodded.
“Wait a minute, give me that,” Snatcher said.
“No, we agreed. Just the money,” Emily insisted, wagging her finger at him with the unassailable authority of a longtime Sunday school teacher.
Snatcher just shook his head. “Hurry up. I’ve got a date.”
Emily quickly opened her wallet, which was empty.
“Do you take debit cards?” she asked Snatcher, whose eyes were spinning in opposite directions. That’s when Lisa began hurling change at him. “Here, I’ve got money. Take this.”
While Lisa pelted him with nickels, a police cruiser drove up and Snatcher jumped in. He seemed happy to see them, Emily said.
Since the encounter, Emily has retired her purse, wears her car keys on a lanyard and keeps her finances in her bra. Snatcher got five years to contemplate Emily’s final words:
“If you needed a ride, you should have asked.”
Jan A. Igoe is eternally grateful her friends weren’t hurt, in spite of themselves. There will be other purses. Good friends are much harder to replace. Contact Jan at HumorMe@SCLiving.coop.