Sunday, April 24, 2011

An Unfortunate Meeting with Street Children

Sorry guys, no cutesy Easter post here. Today there was some action in Rio de Janeiro and it involved a little ranter you all know and love.

So it all started when I was heading home from Copacabana. The cab driver had stopped at a light when some crazy street kid started beating on the taxi windows and trying to open the door.

Of course the cab driver had locked the door once I was inside so no harm and no foul. I watched them walk back towards the sidewalk once the cars had started moving. That's when noticed three foreigners quickly walking by. Obviously they were going to be the next target of this group of rowdy street children.

I watched intently as we passed, not knowing what I would do if the kids tried something. That's when I realized that one of these "foreigners" is a close friend of mine! At this exact moment group of street children had somewhat taken them over.

I yelled to the driver to stop the car. I screamed "STOP THE CAR STOP THE CAR STOP THE CAR!"

Once we stopped I threw open the door and yelled my friend's name. She was standing in the middle of the first of 3 lanes of traffic trying to get a cab and get away. There were two kids sticking their hands into pockets and basically all over her trying to get anything they could. It was not a good situation.

Luckily my friend's friends heard me calling her name and got her attention. She turned and I yelled, in English, for them to get their ass in my cab.

Sounds like an easy save, right? Wrong. One of the older kids ran to the cab as well. She attempted to throw herself in after my friend. She looked straight at me and I could tell she was not all there. I don't know what this girl was on but it was something that caused crazy, or the accentuation of it. There was yelling and pushing and she finally vacated the vehicle.

Of course she did not go quietly and started slamming the door on the last entering gringa as she threw herself in.

Freaking bitch as kid, pardon my language, was forcefully slammed the door on the woman's leg and said Desculpa (sorry). It happened twice before we managed to get her in without getting a part of her slammed.  The doors were locked and we were off.

Crisis adverted.

As it turns out, this group had been following my friend and her group for a bit. They had passed the street children as they were sniffing glue on the street.

I guess we found the source of the crazy.

My friend had been looking for a way out as the street children had gotten quite aggressive and she had never experienced anything like it before.  I can tell you that I haven't either!

But everyone was ok and we had a laugh at how ironic it was that I happened to be passing by her in a cab at that exact moment. What were the odds that two people who live in two different neighborhoods of Zona Sul would bump into each other in a 3rd neighborhood in a situation like this? Random!

What upset me the most was that I was the only one that did stop. What the hell Rio de Janeiro! What gives!


  1. Rachel,

    If someone knows Rio, it knows the odds of this happening are amazing!
    I am sure Rio is better with you in it :)
    Gil grabed a street kid by the shirt once as he was trying to get one guys wallet from his pocket, the kid trew a fit, started screaming and called a cop, the little bastard told the cop Gil had hit him. The policemen wanted to arrest Gil, it took me a good 20 minutes talking to the policemen and explaining what happened!
    I am like you, I can't sit still when I see something like this happening, I always calculate the risk and get involved as best as I can.
    I just wish more people were like you!
    It does sound like that girl was sure high on glue!


  2. I love you Rach!!

    Did I say I love you?? I do!!!!

    Great story!! And had all the same thoughts as I...until the bitter end....I was there in the middle of the street praying and just hoping anybody, I mean ANYBODY, would stop and there you were...and YOU stopped, halleluja!!! Thank you universe for Rachel being there at that exact moment. Thank you.

  3. When someone is in need of help entire cities seem to have the ability to turn their back. I think it is true every where, especially in big cities.

  4. OMG! This is a terrible story! Seriously, I had no idea this could happen. I was just hanging out with my daughter in Copacabana (the end) a few weeks ago!! Of course, I am now in the habit of carrying nothing with me, so I'm not an attractive target. But we were at the fish market in Barra this past weekend, and a girl, like 10 or 11 years, was bugging me for money. I definitely saw that vacant look in her eyes. Luckily, the place was crowded and the people around us were pushing her off (I, as I usually do in this situation, pretend like I speak no Portuguese at all). Thanks for posting this because I will be much more careful now!

  5. Maija - I've got your back Maija :D

    Simon - it's true. They've done some studies on it and it has been shown that that in densely populated areas like cities, people are less likely to help.

    Born Again - Just keep your eyes open. Both Maija and I have been here for years and this has never happened to either of us before. Add to it that it was at night and pouring rain. The streets were uncharacteristically empty.

    Ray - Thank you :) And I could see that happening to Gil.

  6. Wow! What a story! So glad this didn't happen to me while I was in Rio.
    But it happens here too. I took the kids to Charleston, S.C. for spring break to go to the beach. We are on the beach which is crowded and there is a physically challenged woman doing her best to walk in the surf which is high tide at the moment. I watch her at first thinking she is drunk until I realize from her movements that she has dystrophy in her legs. I look around wondering if anyone came with her and if so, where are they? She should not be by herself. She ends up falling and can't get up while the water rises on her chest. I rush out to help her while everyone else just sits on the beach and does nothing. She can't get up without help which I do, and I ask her if she came with someone and there they are, laying on the beach in the sun completely ignoring her pleas for help that she was making. I helped her back up to her spot on the beach while everyone looked on like I was some hero or something. No...I'm not a hero, just a human who cares about other humans people!
    What has the world come to when we don't even help people in need anymore?
    I'm like Gil, I calculate the risk and get involved as much as I can. No way will I ever sit by and just watch something.

  7. Insaneness! Wow, super awesome quick thinking on your part. I hope when I am in a jam, your there with a taxi!

  8. Nina, you need me and I'm there!

    Shay, that is a crazy story! I'm glad you where there and what the hell is wrong with her friend!