Monday, April 5, 2010

Teamwork: The Story of Two Misguided Youth Robbing My Project Team and Our Countermeasure Against Them

On April 5, 2010, the Santa Fe D10 Renewable Energy Team rolled out of bed at 9:00 AM to meet nuclear physicist, Fred Seibel, at the Santa Fe Complex at 10:00 AM. After learning about underground electrical transmission lines and their inadequacies, we returned back to our compound to find something astray: one of our window screens had been popped out of its sill and was resting neatly under a window left ajar. It was then that I realized why off-campus IQP's are done in teams, and human emotion took over.


I stared through the open window into a room that had become familiar over the course of a month. The coffee table was still littered with candy wrappers and empty soda cans. Steve's XBOX and laptop were still there. Had we really been robbed?

Joel entered our house first, while I trailed the group. It was then that we saw two Hispanic kids in the kitchen committing an injustice to us all. One of them was of stocky build, the other scrawny, and both were about 16 years old. "Brother, pull out the gun," one of them said. I shut the door behind me to give me time to think. "Where was the gun? Is there any sign of aggression?" I thought. Scrawny one walked briskly towards the open window and proceeded to shimmy through it to freedom. I grabbed his leg. With his ass up in the air and his head outside the window, he couldn't shoot me even if he had a gun. I yelled, "Call 911!" Joel obeyed immediately while Andrew ran to his room to get his camera (which was later found to have no memory card).

Brotherly Love

After five or ten seconds of stalling scrawny one in the window, stocky one ran over to me to free his brother from my grasp. Shit, I can't fight both of them. So, I aborted the apprehension of the windowed youngster to focus on stopping my more immediate threat. We scuffled on the couch for a moment as he punched, no, lightly tapped my face with his fist.

When people attack me, the same thing always happens. I grit my teeth and inhale with a hiss. The ensuing adrenaline, oxygen, and anger make me think of the best way to inflict damage on my adversary. Should I throw a haymaker to answer his straw tap of a punch? Or, should I grab his throat with the grip developed over years of turning wrenches and carrying groceries?

The answer this time proved to be neither. I looked at his face and my grip from his neck relented. I just wanted to know why he did this, not hurt him. All the while, Andrew was working to separate stocky one and me, and Steve was engaged in a bout with scrawny one who had equiped himself with a tire iron. The boy swung four times at Steve, but none of them were homeruns. Steve took the tire iron from him, mid-swing, and followed with a front kick to the torso of the scrawny one to knock him back like a sheet of paper in the wind. Knowing that he could not win, scrawny one fled with asthmatic Steve in pursuit. He got away.


Andrew failed to separate stocky one and me, but stocky one side-stepped from the couch and opened the door. I thought quickly about how to stunt his progress, and grabbed his left leg to anchor him effectively. He kicked me against the turquoise door repeatedly, like a feral cat with duct tape stuck to one of its paws. My grip did not fail me. He then tried running away with a 160-pound Asian strapped to his leg. As he moved about, our porch pottery clattered and my knuckles scraped on the brick patio to draw blood. Eventually, stocky one tumbled down to give me a chance to advance on him with a rear-naked choke in partial lock. "Andy! Help me!" The six-foot-five, three-hundred-pound gentle giant obliged by putting his knee in the fat kid's back and pinching the pressure point in his neck kindergarten style. Adding insult to injury, Andrew punched the kid in the side. This, coming from the biggest pacifist in our group.

"You're hurting my neck!" The kid says.
"I don't give a fuck. You shouldn't have tried to rob us," Andrew replies. Just then, a mailman strolled nonchalantly by the ruckus to place gingerly two packages on the rocking chair of the patio. He left.


The police arrive about five minutes after I yelled the instruction for a call to them. First on scene is a female officer who cuffed the perpetrator while simultaneously putting her knees into stocky one's back. She asked the cuffed youth, "Hello. Santa Fe Police Department. How are you today?" The rest of the morning was filled with the formalities of crime: paperwork, witness testimonies, and the inventorying of our belongings. The police left around 1:00 PM.

"Rebuild," I said. It looked like a drunken stupor had run its course about the room. After the carpet was straightened, the couch relocated, and the lamp put back on its base, we laughed. We laughed at the expert apprehension performed by the policewoman, and at the random appearance of the mailman. Unfortunately, I didn't come away from this with all my belongings. I am less a cell phone, green knife, and 200 dollars. But, we also laughed about how the boys must really hate me.

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