Why Fatalists Don't Get Robbed

And a Foolproof Way to Foil a Carjacker

I've noticed that many people take a dim view of fatalism… that's the belief that events are determined by fate, in case you didn't know. They say fatalism is just a way to avoid responsibility. In many cases this is true, but some take it seriously, such as religious people that believe God controls everything. People also don't believe me when I say that fatalism is not always coupled with pessimism. In fact, pessimism usually comes first and fatalism is brought in to explain why the person involved is so miserable. Fatalism can actually be coupled with optimism. In rare instances such as these, people believe that everything is predetermined to work out for the best.

At this point people tend to want to debate. They say people like that wouldn't live to adulthood. I, of course, disagree. Optimistic fatalists, I say, are some of the most powerful people on the planet, and as an example I always use this event, which happened to me about four years ago…

It was late on a Saturday night and I was planning to watch a movie I had just bought. I had just stepped into the kitchen to take my medicine – I was just coming down with the flu and my chest was congested – when two menwith gunsbarged in. (I have since replaced the defective lock on my front door.)

"Don't move!" one of them ordered, pointing his gun at me.

"Are you sure you have the right house?" I asked suspiciously as I swallowed the cough medicine.

"A young woman living alone in a one-floor house," Leader commented as Follower searched my place for other occupants. "Yeah, I'm sure this is the right place."

"Well, then, you're being rude," I said. "You could have knocked."

Leader stared at me in disbelief, then pointed the gun at my head as I moved.

"I said don't move!"

"Look, my tap water is lousy but it isn't worth all that," I said, and poured myself a drink.

Follower returned and announced that the other rooms were 'clear'.

"Don't call the cops, don't leave the house and don't try to stop us," Leader ordered.

"Don't make a mess," I countered, and reached for my bag of cough drops as another coughing fit started.

The two robbers looked at each other and shrugged.

"I guess we don't have to tie her up or anything," Follower remarked.

"I guess not," Leader agreed, and they made a beeline for my computer.

"Uh uh, leave the computer," I said.

"Why?" Leader demanded.

"Because it's infected with a Trojan horse or something," I explained. "The hard drive is shot to hell."

"We'll risk it," Leader said, and he and Follower unplugged the connections and picked it up.

"Your loss," I replied, popping a cough drop in my mouth.

They returned, going for the stereo next, as I walked back into the living room.

"Not that one," I said. "The stereo in my bedroom is better."

"And what's wrong with this one?" Leader demanded.

"Well, it's a dinosaur, for one thing," I replied. "It's like, twelve years old. And for another thing, it's been beaten up through four moves already; it'll probably fall apart on you before you even get it in the van, or whatever it is you drove up in."

Leader shrugged and had Follower help him take my good stereo system out of my bedroom. I followed them.

"The speakers detach, you know," I pointed out as they struggled with the system.

I continued to correct their errors in object choice and in their method of lifting heavy objects as they took my television, DVD player and other expensive appliances. They grew a little irritated, however, when I objected to their taking of my DVDs.

"Wait, wait, wait," I said, stepping between them and my shelves. "You can't take them all."

"Why not?" Leader demanded.

"First of all, some of them are crap," I said. "I bought them out of boredom and didn't get around to trashing them. Second, some of them I really like and don't want them to get broken. Now let's do this properly."

I turned around and started sorting through them.

"You've got to be kidding me!" Follower exclaimed. "Move it!"

"Fine, take the shit, see if I care," I replied as he pushed me out of the way. "But you'll be laughed at if you try to sell some of those."

"I think we can figure out which ones not to sell for ourselves," Leader said condescendingly as he and Follower took the two racks of DVDs out to their van.

It didn't take them long to return and demand that I drive them to the nearest ATM.

"You have a van, drive yourselves," I said, tossing my wallet to Leader. "My debit card is in there; the pin number is taped to the back."

"Well, we want you to do it," Leader said, tossing the wallet back to me.

"Why?" I asked, and had another coughing fit.

"Because we have the guns and we said so," Leader replied, ignoring my hacking.

"I can't drive for another week," I countered, and tossed the wallet back. "My license got suspended." (This wasn't true, but I felt like aggravating him.)

"Well, you're one up on us; we lost our licenses entirely," Leader replied and tossed the wallet back at me.

"Well…" I began, but he pointed his gun at me.

"Toss that wallet at me again and I'll shoot you," he said. "We're going for a drive in your car now."

"Okay, okay, no need to get touchy," I said. "Let me just get my keys."

Follower produced them from a pocket.

"How convenient," I said, taking them from his hand. "Let's get this over with."

"So why did your license get suspended?" Leader asked as I pulled out of my parking spot.

"Reckless endangerment," I replied, lying to explain why I promptly floored the gas pedal.

It was really quite funny to hear two tough, armed robbers scream like little girls.

"Slow down!" Leader demanded as I tore down the dark street.

"Where the hell are we going?" Follower asked.

"This is a shortcut," I explained.

"Yeah, to our graves!" Follower replied, and I noticed he had put on his seatbelt.

"Speaking of which," I said as we screeched around a corner, "a car traveling at this speed is a deadly weapon not just to those outside but to those inside. This is because at this rate of speed, if I were to lose control of the wheel – because I was shot, for instance – and crash, you, Boss Man, would be launched through the windshield because you aren't wearing your seatbelt. The airbag probably wouldn't do me any good because the whole front end of the car would be smashed. I would have a bad concussion, severe internal injuries and a lot of broken bones. You, dude, in the back, might survive with a concussion, some broken bones and a few other injuries.

"Of course, all this is best-case scenario. If we were to straddle the yellow line, for instance…" I paused for emphasis as I did just that on the major road we had just reached, "and a car were to come from the other direction we would clip it, glance off of it, actually, assuming one of us swerves to avoid the other, with enough force to flip us both end over end. All three of us would die. Yes, you are now playing Russian Roulette, auto edition."

"So what do you want us to do?" Leader asked, his voice fearfully high.

"Throw your guns out the window," I said, and then I heard sirens and, looking in my rearview, saw police lights appear. "Someone must have told the cops I was driving like a maniac through a residential district."

"Shit!" Leader exclaimed. "Keep driving!"

"I have every intention of doing so," I replied. "See that bridge up ahead? I have to make a sharp turn in order to cross it, but at this speed we would be carried right through the barrier and over the edge. You have ten seconds to throw our guns and any other weapons you might have on you out the window."

Leader and Follower complied enthusiastically, and I hit the brakes. Forward momentum carried us into the barrier but luckily we were moving slowly enough at that point that we only bent it.

"Oh, don't look so terrified, you big sissies," I chided, struggling to talk around the deployed airbag. "Three wheels are still on the road."

Follower jumped out and made a break for it; Leader, sitting right over the drop, was in a state of shock, I think. The police car pulled up, lights and sirens going. Luckily, the officers inside had seen the two men ditch their weapons and had figured out what I was doing.

Follower was caught by another cop at the other end of the bridge while Leader was helped out of the car, confessing every crime he had ever committed, including the attempted robbery of my home. Of course, I still had to go to the police station and file a report, press charges and all that. As I left, I heard someone comment that they had never seen anything like it.

By the time I made it back home – I had been taken to the hospital after the car crash and was kept there until the worst of my flu had passed – someone had been kind enough to replace my belongings and tape a cutout of the news article referring to the incident to my front door. I was amused to read that the two robbers had come down with the flu as well.

After they hear that story, people generally don't talk to me about fatalism.