The Day I Got Mugged

I was 11 and was packing groceries in the supermarket where my father also worked. This was in the previous century, and my father believed in the merits of child labor. Beyond packing groceries, I would also sometimes deliver them. If my father knew the person who needed the delivery, or if that person seemed trustworthy, then I could also deliver groceries to their homes.
 
From 4th to 8th grade, I was expected to keep myself busy in the supermarket whenever possible. I can't count the number of plastic bags that have gone through my hands, but I probably have part of a landfill with my name on it. I didn't really like packing groceries or doing deliveries, but I did enjoy the cast of characters. Packing groceries in a supermarket was the best way for someone who didn't speak English, or didn't have documents, or wasn't of legal age -- or anything to be honest -- to make 50-120 dollars a day; decent money for a working-class family back in that day. People would buy their groceries, the cashier would do her thing, and the "empacador" would put everything in grocery bags. Empacador is a fancier term than "bagboy," but the learning curve is the same in both languages: double-bag the heavy stuff, and don't put, say, a chicken in the same bag as bread.
 
This learning curve allowed guys like Joe, a Dominican fella' who could barely tie his shoes and was always between shots of rum, to fund their habits. High school kids who wanted the latest cool sneakers also would show up, but in the end there was seniority. A guy everyone called Capit├ín -- who always used to tell me stories of his time in the Dominican navy --  use to fondly recall the days when the empacador hierarchy was stricter. "Back in the day, whoever was at the door when the supermarket opened could keep his spot the whole day. Even if you went on a delivery, when you returned, whoever had your 'caja' would have to return it to you. It's only now that us elders don't kick off the high school empacadores when we return from a delivery."
 
My presence in the supermarket as my father's tag team partner meant that he could give me a safe delivery, or that I could reserve his spot until he returned from another delivery. One of those "safe" deliveries came forward, and my father passed it along to me: two blocks from the supermarket and on a first floor. I liked those, it was an easy way to make a few bucks quickly; normally you'd only get a dime or a quarter for packing a person's groceries.
 
So, I push the grocery cart full of plastic bags while the Puerto Rican lady asked me the usual questions and gave me the typical speech: "What grade you in? 6th grade, that's so nice, keep studying and working, etc."
 
We go through the two doors to get into her lobby, her door was on the right, and I noticed three big-ass black guys in their 20s on the left side of the lobby: a typical sight in the Bronx, so I didn't pay much attention.
 
I continued on to the lady's door, unloaded the bags in the hallway of her apartment, and then outside just as she's closing the door and thanking me, she tipped me two dollars. "Not too bad since I didn't have to climb any flights," I thought, but I would have preferred five. I slipped the two one-dollar bills into my front right pocket and start making my way out. The three dudes start walking ahead of me and one of them is polite enough to open the first door for me.
 
As I pushed the grocery cart into the space between the two doors, I feel one of them bop me in the eye, pushing me to the ground. Then they reach into my front right pocket and pull the two dollars out, quickly running up the stairs into the building. I stood up, dazed, and made my way back to the supermarket while rubbing a black eye. I had 21 dollars in my back pocket, and was simply glad that they hadn't reached into that pocket.