janradder: (Default)
On 36th Street, just east of Chicago Avenue, someone has put up a huge sign in front of their house. It's about four feet tall and five feet long and mounted on a pair of six or seven foot tall four by fours. Written in black spray paint is this message: "Stop stealing my flowers, piece of shit!"

Honestly, I must admit I've thought about doing this after people have stolen plants and rocks from our garden, but I've never actually gone ahead and done it. I can't say I blame the guy, though.
janradder: (Default)
About two years ago while heading into the grocery store, I was a approached by a man who looked hot, tired, and panicked. In his hand was a red plastic gas can.

"I'm so sorry to bother you," he said, sounding out of breath. "But my wife just went into labor at Regents Hospital and my van ran out of gas over there on Lake Street."

He pointed to an old tan and brown minivan from the early nineties.

"It's our first baby and I can't believe this happened -- I-I've never run out of gas before -- and I don't have any money. I just need enough to get over to the hospital. Please, if you could just help me out, I'd really appreciate it."

I usually ignore these stories, but there was something about this man and his behavior that made me think he was telling the truth. He was a Black man who looked to be about my age and he had a good, honest smile. And I thought about how I would have felt had the situation been reversed. If it had been my first child, I thought, and I'd run out of gas, I would have looked and sounded just like him. So I gave him the twenty dollar bill I had in my pocket and after thanking me profusely, he rushed off in the direction of the gas station with his red, plastic gas can.

I watched him disappear between the cars in the parking lot and without his bright earnest face before me, I wondered if I'd been taken. Still, I thought, maybe I hadn't, and I'd really helped the guy out.

Today, as I got out the car at another grocery store with the boys in tow, there he was.

"Excuse me," he said, looking hot, tired, and panicked, but without a gas can. "My wife just went into labor at Regents Hospital and I was wondering if you could help me."

"No. I can't help you at all," I said.

I looked at that smiling face, which suddenly looked a little scared.

"Yeah, okay," he said, and rushed off looking for another mark.

I turned away, pissed off at myself both for letting him con me two years earlier and for not saying something when he'd approached me with the same con. "She's in labor and you ran out of gas again?" I told myself I should have said. But I hadn't. Instead, I walked through Aldi, feeling like an idiot for being taken by the guy. But his eyes -- his eyes and his smile, they looked so honest and earnest. And as I drove away, looking to see if he was in the parking lot so I could say something, I cursed him for using that honest face to take advantage of other people.
janradder: (Default)
This past December I was mugged right in front of my house.  The officer that responded to my call, after taking all my information, told me that I should trust my instincts and always call 911 when I see someone suspicious on my street or in our alley or lurking near  a house or wherever.  "Eighty percent of  the time when we get a call about someone suspicious, if we find them and search them, they either have a gun or drugs or some sort of contraband," he told [livejournal.com profile] haddayr and I.

Flash forward to today:  my son Éiden and are driving up to our house.  In the middle of the street are two thuggy looking guys who do not live on this block and who I have never seen before acting jittery and nervous and looking up and down the street, obviously waiting for someone. Whether they are there to buy or sell drugs, mug somebody or shoot someone, I really have no idea but they pretty much fit the label of "suspicious" and, from experience, that corner of our street has been a spot for shady dealings and I have little reason to believe that these two gentlemen are fine upstanding citizens.  The two guys have me freaked out enough that I do not stop in front of our house but drive on and pull over at a spot where I can still see the them and drive off if they start to approach the car.  I pull out my phone and call 911.  When the operator answers I tell him about the suspicious men.  I have done this before.  The next step, usually, is to ask for a description.   Instead, the operator says to me, "Well, it's not against the law to stand on the street and look suspicious."  Gee, ya think?  Well, I didn't know that Mr. Dumbfuck.  How bout next time I wait until they pull a gun on someone and then I'll call the police as they run off scott free?  God, I hate 911 operators.

Thank You

Dec. 13th, 2007 10:22 am
janradder: (Default)
to everyone who commented on my last post.  Your thoughts and words were all very helpful.

Fuck

Dec. 11th, 2007 10:36 am
janradder: (Default)
I was held up at gunpoint on Sunday night right in front of my own fucking house and I can't stop thinking about it.  I just got out of the shower where I kept going over and over what happened and what I could have done or what might have happened and my heart is beating too fast like I'm having a panic attack.

I'd just come home from Target (after buying some stocking stuffers for my sons).  I pulled up in front of the house at 8:15 p.m. and as I pulled on to our street I saw a man walking right down the middle of the street further down.  I got this kind of funny feeling about him but I didn't think too much about it because for some bizarre reason people in this city insist on walking down the middle of the street quite often.  I sat in the car for a few extra seconds listening to "This American Life" on the radio and then thought I should get out and get in the house because this guy was in the street and I didn't want to be sitting there when he walked past.  He'd been walking very slowly up to this point, almost lingering fifty yards away.  I got out of the car, Target bag in hand, leapt over a snow bank and started towards my front door which was only about twenty feet away.  From the street I heard a whistle and a "Hey," and I looked over, thinking this guy was going to ask for a cigarette or something, to see a gun pointing at me.

"Give me your fucking money," he says as he walks up to me.  I tell him I don't have any money, really.  "You're going to give me your fucking wallet,"  is his response.  This whole time he's pointing the gun at me. "Ok," I say.  Before I could get my wallet he grabs the front of my pants looking for my wallet and says, "Give me your fucking wallet."  At this point, he is right in front of me holding the gun which is aimed at my head.  It is sticking out the end of his jacket, a small 9mm semi-automatic.  I have my hands up, palms open and I tell him my wallet isn't there, it's in my jacket.  I slowly move my hand to my jacket and tell him that my wallet is right here inside my jacket and all I'm doing is getting it out.  This is when he put s the gun right into my face only a few inches away and says, "I'm going to shoot you in the fucking head."  I again tell him that I'm getting my wallet for him and I pull it out and hand it to him.  As soon as he has it, he turns and runs down the street, his back to me.  I watch him and think how easy it would be to just shoot him in the back if I had a gun as he runs away.

I keep thinking this.  I keep thinking, what if I'd had a gun, or what if I'd gotten into my car, chased after him and ran him down.  Of course I've also jokingly said to Haddayr that I should have just been like Bogart in The Maltese Falcon and grabbed the gun out of his hand then slapped him across the face.  But I also keep seeing that gun pointing at me and I keep hearing him tell me he's going to shoot me in the fucking head.  One of the things I said after I'd called the police was that I hope someone shoots him in the fucking head.  I meant it, too.  I think I still do.  I just can't stop thinking about that fucker and his gun and going over in my head what happened and then what would have happened if he had shot me.  I think about what he's done with my i. .d. and the cancelled credit cards.  I'm worried that there's going to be some big unpleasant surprise with our finances.  I just can't stop thinking about that gun.

Last night I had to take Arie to his therapy session and it was dark outside.  The car was in front of the house and Arie, blissfully unaware of the previous night ran out happily to the sidewalk.  "Wait, Arie,"  I told him.  "Wait for me."  I kept both boys close to me as I scanned the street looking for anyone suspicious.  There were two people walking down the sidewalk who scared me because maybe they were muggers (it turned out they were  friends of Haddayr's who were bringing us soup).  On the other side of the street was a dark figure walking in our direction who terrified me.  "Hi, Jan," the figure called out.  It was our neighbor form across the street.  Later that night, the dog had to be taken out.  I told Haddayr I'd like to do it because I thought I'd feel less scared with the dog.  I get out to the boulevard, looking around to see if anyone is approaching and what do I see but a dark figure walking towards us down the middle of the street.  I told myself that it couldn't be a mugger but I was absol8utely terrified.  My heart was racing and I was certain the person was going to pull a gun on me.  The mugger was Somali and everywhere I see a brown Somali face that looks even vaguely similar to the mugger's, I think, "That's him."

I just can't stop thinking about this and I feel sick and scared and panicked and really sad and depressed.  This really sucks.

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janradder

March 2012

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