She noticed the woman with strawberry-blonde hair pass and take her seat behind her. Suddenly, the woman casually leaned over and dropped a note, right into her lap.
Julie had been taking the train to work every day for years, but she’d never been approached by a stranger before. She unfolded the note and scanned over it. Then, she went as white as a ghost.
Oakland, California resident Julie Dragland worked as a PR specialist for SEGA Networks. She’d take the Bay Area’s public train to work and back each day.
Julie had very particular tastes when it came to TV shows… but, of course, she never knew that her guilty pleasure might actually save her life one day.
When 32-year-old Julie arrived home at night after a long workday, she loved nothing more than to kick up her feet and relax.
Her favorite shows to unwind to were late-night crime shows. She knew that they were mostly fictional, after all. Although something she saw on one of them would be very useful on one fateful train ride in 2017.
It happened around 5 p.m. on a Saturday afternoon. Julie had been thankful that the train wasn’t as packed as it usually was during the weekday rush-hours, but the relatively empty train would prove to be more of a curse than a blessing later.
Julie rode to Dublin in East Bay with only 15 other passengers that day. And one of them was about to turn her world upside down.
The train passed through San Francisco, and that’s when the woman got on. She passed Julie and then sat down right behind her. Julie didn’t think much of it, and why would she?
The strawberry-blonde woman appeared to be just another commuter that day. Julie had no idea that she had become a target… and that she had just been marked.
Although Julie was taken aback when the woman behind her leaned forward and dropped a note in her lap, she couldn’t have known that it was serving a nefarious purpose.
Curious, she unfolded the piece of paper and read the writing that was scrawled across it, written in red ink. Hardly believing what was happening, she began to panic.
Anyone who has ever had to take public transport will know that it isn’t all that uncommon to be handed a note by a stranger on the train.
The most common notes that are handed out to passengers are pleading for donations of cash, and the vagrants usually claim to have a debilitating ailment. But the note that was given to Julie was nothing like that.
The note that was so nonchalantly tossed into Julie’s lap was carrying a terrifying message. And the drama that unfolded next was captured by the security cameras inside the train.
“I started freaking out,” Julie later told the San Francisco Chronicle. Julie began to survey her surroundings, looking for a way out. So, what did the note say?
“Don’t move and don’t say anything,” the note read.
“If you don’t want to make a scene, hand back your wallet and phone NOW and do not turn around and be discreet. Do not turn around until after you have left Civic Center and you’ll go our separate ways.” She was being threatened by an invisible enemy. What could Julie do?
Of course, Julie didn’t want to just hand over her belongings. She had worked hard for what she had, and she didn’t want to let the criminals win.
Although she was frightened, she was also angry. They couldn’t get away with this. Her heart raced as she carefully looked around her. That’s when she noticed something.
With the seconds ticking away, Julie kept her eyes forward, frantically searching for something to indicate that someone on the train was targetting her.
And she noticed nothing unusual about any of the passengers around her. No one appeared to be watching her. Was she really in danger, or was the note just a ruse?
“Is somebody really going to shoot someone for a phone and a wallet?” she relayed later to the Chronicle. “I started to question it a little bit, but I was still really scared.”
But still, she needed to do something. The criminal behind her was waiting for her to comply. Julie caught the eye of a man sitting across from her and mouthed “help me.”
But the man appeared not to notice her. He went on to leave the train at the next stop. Julie was running out of time… and options. She had two choices: she could either hand over her phone and wallet, or she could take a chance.
Suddenly, she had an idea so crazy that it just might work. She’d seen it on one of her favorite crime shows.
Julie began to put on the performance of her life. After all, her life could depend on it. She began to wail and curled up in the fetal position in her seat, shaking violently. What was she doing?
“I slumped sideways and started shaking and crying, I closed my eyes and increased the vigor so people would pay attention.”
A couple sitting nearby immediately noticed. They rushed over to see if she needed medical assistance. That’s when she handed them the note. Now, they knew exactly what was happening. She’d drawn attention to herself.
The woman with strawberry blonde hair got off the train at the next stop. The note had been a lie, and Julie had called her bluff!