The bag you see in the header is the Louis Vuitton “Kitan” bag. Or at least, that’s what I think it is? I’ll be honest — I’m not much of a bag connoisseur. I wouldn’t know a real Louis Vuitton bag from a Chinatown knockoff. Hell, if I’m being REALLY honest I sort of assume that all Louis Vuitton bags are secretly knockoffs, and the brand doesn’t actually exist. But that’s neither here nor there.
The point is, that SPECIFIC bag apparently cost Michigan-native Jerad Kluting about $1700. He purchased it about six or seven years ago. It means a lot to him. And last week an armed robber tried to take it from him as he walked home in broad daylight, on a busy street. Kluting’s response?
“You’re not getting my Louis Vuitton”
And as Kluting told GQ, this is what happened next:
And he fired a warning shot off next to me and he demanded again. I said, “I’m not giving you my bag.” And he fired the second shot. And then I took off running. And then I heard a third shot and actually there were four shots. The third shot scared me because I heard that go off behind me. And I was actually waiting to be hit by it. But they say you’ll never hear the shot that hits you. I looked over my shoulder. He was running away.
Ok, to be fair, even Kluting realizes that maybe a designer tote isn’t worth dodging ACTUAL FUCKING LIVE BULLETS over. In the same interview, he goes on to say:
Looking back on it, I don’t have any regrets. But would I have done it differently? I would have just given him the bag. I would have just given the bag. The media has made this sensationalized [story] about my Louis Vuitton bag, and it’s not about that. It’s about taking a stand against gun violence, for one, and being able to walk safely and go about your everyday life without feeling threatened by someone else. And that’s why I am going to promote gun-violence awareness. June is gun-violence-awareness month, and I will be wearing an orange ribbon in regards to that.
And I don’t recommend, and please put this, because nobody has said this, if you are ever in a situation of any type of this nature, give them your personal belonging. I should have, but I didn’t, and I’m living to tell about it, and that’s why I am promoting, and now taking a stand against, gun violence.
So here’s the thing: at first I was all “Look at this fucking asshole, willing to die over an ugly-ass overpriced purse.” But the more I think about it, I agree with Kluting. It really ISN’T about the bag (or its relative worth, or its relative attractiveness). It’s about that knee-jerk reaction inside of all of us when faced with danger: Fight, Flight, or Freeze.
Could it be that doing the smart thing, staying safe and capitulating to demands, is actually a more difficult response to condition ourselves to make, rather than simply rebelling against an attack?
One thing I’m fully aware of about myself is that I will ABSOFUCKINGLY lash out if threatened. And I don’t even carry around anything worth $1700! But still, I’ll fucking go HAM on anyone who tries to lay a finger on me. Every action movie I’ve ever seen has been in preparation for the moment when I might get the opportunity to defend myself like that. Which, yes, is absurd because no, I don’t have some sort of photographic muscle memory. I’d actually be useless in a fight. I also don’t like pain, particularly. Or being scared. Or being shot at (I know this because I’m equally useless at playing first person shooter video games). But that doesn’t mean I won’t go to that level in a heartbeat. It’s not necessarily something I take pride in.
As Kluting went on to explain it, standing up against the robber meant “… that I was not going to be victimized and I was not going to be a victim.” And I wonder if that is a great enough feeling to cancel out any instinct for self-preservation one might have. But I also wonder if he would have reacted that way if he’d been held at gunpoint while carrying a cheaper bag.