The getaway

I’ve seen plenty of car accidents. I’ve witnessed a mugging. But today I saw something I’d only ever seen on TV: thieves jumping into a waiting getaway car and speeding away.

I had just enjoyed coffee and conversation with a friend on Capitol Hill in Seattle and was making my way to the grocery store to pick up a few things. It’s not one I normally go to since it’s out of my neighborhood, so I was driving slowly down the narrow side streets; I didn’t want to miss the entrance to the garage. I was just coming up on the turn when two guys came flying down the sidewalk, their arms full of something, but I couldn’t tell what. Something wasn’t right. People don’t run like that without a reason. A moment later, another guy appeared in pursuit.

I stopped.

The guys got to a waiting car parked facing the wrong way just ahead of me and to the right. One threw his package into the passenger side window and fled on foot. The security guard chasing them managed to get the package from the other guy—I think. More on that in a moment. The guy got away from the guard—by going around the car… maybe? Then the car started pulling out—right toward me. The thief got in the car. The car sped by me—on my right—and got away, stopping only to let in the guy who had fled on foot. Meanwhile, the security guard made his way back to the store. I pulled into the garage and did my shopping.

I looked for the security guard while I was in the store, but I didn’t see him. I can’t even be sure the thieves had hit the grocery store, since the building has a number of other retail businesses. I mentioned to the checker what I’d seen, and she didn’t sound terribly surprised, saying something to the effect of, “Yeah, it sucks when that happens.”

It’s strange to witness a fast-moving incident, and I can certainly appreciate why witnesses can offer conflicting accounts. I first noticed the guys come running, then saw the car with the waiting driver, then the security guard. When he caught up to them is a blur as one fled while the other dodged around the car. The motion of all that is especially fuzzy. I think the guard recovered one of the items, but I’m not positive. I think one of the guys dodged around the car and then got in. I think they picked up the guy who fled after they passed me. I can’t even recall what kind of car it was.

While it was happening, I wasn’t sure whether to pull over, drive forward, back up—or just sit still and let whatever was going to happen, happen. I sat still. I kept wondering what the guard was going to do when he caught up to them. On TV he would’ve taken the guys to the ground, there would’ve been a glorious fistfight, people would’ve pulled guns, and cop cars would’ve come screaming in with lights flashing and sirens blaring.

None of that happened. The guard seemed content to get back what he could and get back to the store. I did my shopping. The guys got away.

And now life goes on.