That Time Steve Got Robbed Story
It was Monday, July 14th, 2008 and it was to be my biggest wheelchair excursion to date. I was to take the bus to the subway to the train to Andover then wheelchair a couple of miles to my aunt and uncle's house - where I used to live. The route would have sentimental value as I used to commute it every day.
I am on my way and I get to Malden Center station where I would transfer from the subway to the commuter rail. I call the elevator to go down from the platform and it never comes. A couple of guys see me frustrated and try to help. Surprise, surprise, the elevator doesn't come when they push the button either. At least we know the elevator isn't prejudiced against ALS.
One of the guys goes and brings a T employee up to help. He comes back and does a really good job translating my ALS accent as I explain how I have a train to catch in half an hour. She radios in the situation and tells me some guys are on the way. The other guy with me has caught his train by now. The helpful, translator guy offers to wait with me until help comes and the T employee goes back downstairs.
We enjoyed a little chit chat for several minutes. It was a good day for me speech-wise but still, I was impressed that this guy never missed a word and I can always tell when someone is faking it. Suddenly, he declares "hey, the elevator is coming up" (it wasn't). I looked through the window and he reached down and pulled my wallet right out of my hands. The prick didn't even bother to run. He just walked away, around the vestibule, and down the stairs as I softly protested. Yes, the platform was empty.
The cops were there in minutes. They have the guy on video. The employee from earlier says she recognizes the guy and he takes the T all the time. I only had about $35 in there but all my insurance cards, driver’s license, T-pass, and credit cards. Before I could cancel them, he made two $100 charges at Hess. Haven't figured out how he did that yet. People who came up for the next T overheard the cops questioning me and were aghast at such a crime. A detective came over the next day to show the video surveillance photos.
I need to give credit where credit is due. Not the Boston police, but the MBTA police, specifically detective Andrea Purcell is who solved this caper. The fact that the thief, Scott Marra, is an idiot helped. I sent Andrea information from my bank telling her the exact times and address where my credit card was used. In video footage of one location, you could see the prick getting into a delivery vehicle with the company's name all over the side of it. I know, I know. Who could be so stupid? It really makes you wonder who has the bigger disability.
So Andrea visits the boss of the delivery company and he is not cooperative at all. Being a good detective, she had done her homework and knew that bossman was driving on a suspended license. She threatened to share this little tidbit with the police and he caved like a house of cards. Turns out our Scott is a very bad man. He has a rap sheet a mile long and from multiple states.
So on Friday, August 1st, with warrant in hand, a team of cops surround his house and enter. Don't you know, the coward runs upstairs and hides in his room. Right now, he is sitting in a room he'll get to stay in for a very long time. The arraignment was Monday the 4th and he was ordered held, without bail, until the trial which should be September 5th.
I can’t leave out the media feeding frenzy that occurred Saturday the 2nd. I got a message Friday from the detective on the case telling me the guy was arrested. Then I get another call from her Saturday morning asking if I was okay with being interviewed by the media. Sure, I said, why not. I thought I was being set up for an interview for some local paper, maybe even the Herald. Imagine my surprise when the camera trucks for FOX, ABC, and NBC roll up. I hadn't even showered that day! They set me up in front of an array of microphones and I hold my first ever press conference. There's more than one way to raise ALS awareness :)
Finally, I’ll add my response to one reporter’s question of what I would like to see happen to the 39 year old Scott Marra… “I would like nothing more than for him to go to trial and have to explain his actions in court. When I look at his picture in the paper, I don't see a thug or a criminal; I see a guy who could be any one of my friends. I found it ironic that we are exactly the same age.
If I could choose his punishment, I would make him my personal assistant for a few months. Living with ALS is very challenging and I need lots of help throughout the day. As the muscles in my tongue, lips, and throat get weaker, my speech deteriorates significantly. Scott has already proved he can understand my ALS "accent" where I only get blank stares from most of the public so he can be my translator. Scott has also proved that my hands and arms are very weak when he effortlessly took my wallet from my hands. He should not be surprised that it is quite difficult for me to lift a fork to my mouth so he could feed me instead. Scott knows full well that I cannot walk as evidenced by the fact he didn't even bother to run when he took my wallet so he should have to lift me in and out of my chair, in and out of bed, on and off the toilet, and grab stuff too high for me to reach. While we're at it, because of ALS, I can no longer bathe myself, dress myself, turn in bed, write, or use the telephone. Maybe if Scott had to help me live my life for a few months, maybe he would learn that, even with challenges far greater than his worst nightmare, it is possible to live with grace, dignity, and a little humility.”
Of course, that was my PC, see if I can raise awareness answer. The reality is that I’d rather see him locked in a room with my brothers for about 20 minutes and then stay locked in that room for about 5 years while he recovers. Believe me; it would take about that long.
As a footnote, I made the trip to Andover a couple of weeks after my first attempt. There may be more Scott Marras in the world but I’ll be damned if I’ll let them spoil my fun.
Life is good!