I Got Robbed

I have been busking now for almost two years.   I know being out at night in any city can be dangerous.  Until this past August, I have been in Savannah from the time I started busking.  Since August, I have been to about 30 other cities.  I have never had any major problems.  Sure, sometimes there have been a few confrontational people, a few drunks, and a few punks giving a hard time, but nothing serious.  A fellow busker here in Savannah, had his tip box taken while he was working but he got it back.  Only to be killed about two weeks later, in an unrelated incident.  I was shocked to hear about both.

Anyway,  I was working tonight,(Dec. 3)  as I always do, in Reynolds Square.  The Christmas Parade was tonight and it was a great parade.  It was about 9:00 and I thought I would stay out until 9:30.  There was a couple sitting  in the Square and there two guys up from Florida sitting on the bench next to my tree.  Four kids, maybe 16-17. walked into the Square and hung out in the middle of it for a few minutes.  The couple got up and left. A few minutes later, two of them came over while I was playing, and I looked at them while I finished up.  I said to them “Yes  gentlemen, what can I do for you?”  The one kid said “No man, just wanna hear you play.”   I said  “Anything in particular?”   He said “No man. Just play something”

I start to improv something and about 20 seconds later, this kid pulls out a gun and says,

“Okay, step away from the box and give us you phone too!”  With a smirk I just wanted to slap right off of him.

I looked at the gun, I know guns.  It was some kind of derringer – maybe a .25 or a .32 it needs to be cocked before it is fired.  I looked at him and said “Get the hell out outta here.”  I went for my box and I was going to break to down.  He points at me and says “Yo man, I’ll shoot this thing!”  The other two were behind me, I didn’t know how close, I couldn’t see them.  I didn’t know what they had, if anything and I didn’t know if  his gun was loaded.  All I know is, with four of them, I couldn’t do much with Gilda on.

I looked him and said again “Get outta here!”  At that point, his buddy grabbed my tip box and started running.  The two gentlemen that were sitting on the bench started running after the guy with the gun and he turned around and yelled “Back up man, back up!”  And they did. I don’t blame them, of course. I was grateful they were there.

I went after the kid who took my tip box.  He reached in and grabbed a fistful of money and dropped the box.  After my new friends got backed up, the kid with the gun said, “Put the box down”  I said “There’s nothing in it!” I was lying, of course.  Then he ran off.   I got back to my tree and put all my gear away.  Pissed off and on an adrenaline rush, I headed to get a shot or two. I got just outside the Square and I thought I saw the kid with the gun drop something so I went back.  My two new friends were on the phone with the cops and asked me if I wanted to talk to them.  So, I did.

Over the next 90 minutes, I told my story to a few officers and a detective.  When the gentlemen from Florida were all set and leaving, one of them came over and said “Here you go, you had a rough night.” and he handed me a $20 bill.  I couldn’t believe that.  I just want to say how grateful I am to Matt and Jack for everything they did tonight.  They showed bravery and incredible generosity to me and for me.

After that, I went to a parking lot with the police to ID some kids they picked up.  I would have only recognized the kid with the gun. None of them was him.  I am happy to say, nobody was hurt and Gilda didn’t get damaged or stolen.




  1. Courtney said:

    Dude, you’re killing me! I love you, but you’re not irreplaceable. Continue being mindful of your surroundings and don’t take any unnecessary risks! Let me know if you need anything!

    -The Court

  2. Rachel said:

    Glad you had back up probably saved you from worse! Terrible experience so disturbing. Hope you can get out there tonight.

  3. Glad you’re o.k. Keep safe and best wishes. Also, nice to know there is balance in the universe – a couple of great guys to counter the jerks that robbed you. Take care.

  4. Vickie said:

    Im so sorry to hear this James. Glad you are okay!

  5. Brian said:

    James – good to know you are ok. I met you very briefly at five points in birmingham. I live less than a block from there, and got mugged on my front porch by a punk w a gun about five years ago. As in your case he didnt get much. Just stupid. A few months ago someone broke into my apartment. Again, i just dont have much to steal, so the robber didnt get much. He did take a laptop that i had for over 8 years… Lots of things on there that meant a lot to me, but were worthless to anyone else. He maybe got 75 bucks for it at a pawn shop. More a shame than anything. I’m still there tho. Hope you keep right on playing as long as you are happy there. You are a good man. Thanks for sharing your stories.

  6. Mamie Thompson said:

    I’m so sorry to hear this hun … I’m so glad you are okay!!!

  7. Tom said:

    James I’m shocked to hear of your robbery experience. Reminds me of a time when I was in the Navy in Naples Italy, returning from a day wandering lost around the city. But walking down hill to the port. Four or five pre teens surrounded me on a dark boulevard; one dropped down from behind me and put his head between my ankles and arms around my lower legs while the others circled looking to pick my pocket. I yelled “Politizia, politizia, politizia, male ragazzi….!!!
    which scared them off, while I headed for the nearest cafe with people for a safe haven. Then proceeded back to the docks.
    Closest I’ve come to being mugged. Take care of yourself James.
    Tom, now playing in the big band in a safe junior high school.

  8. Diane said:

    I am so saddened to hear this. I am grateful you are safe and look forward to seeing you in a couple of weeks. Please be careful!

  9. Wow just read your blog about being robbed, you are plucky! Thankfully in England the chances of this happening are slim, it reminded me of a certain scene in ‘Treme’ which lets just say had a different outcome don’t want to spoil it for anyone. Blimey!

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