Friday, August 14, 2009

Mean Streets

The all too common sounds of police cruisers roaring down Main St, sirens ablaze pierced the warm Midtown evening. For the second time in a week, I knew they were because of me.

But this time, I at least knew they were not coming for me, they were out in force because I had called them. Hearing them, as I walked down Baltimore Ave towards 303 to meet my friend Amy for a night of chatting and vodka consumption, was a relief; I was wondering if they were even going to respond. Sadly, the outcome, while not costing me any money, dignity or my personal freedom, was almost as frustrating as the last time the KCMO police were on the move because of me.

As I left the Palace, I could not help but notice two men sitting on our sidewalk steps eating something out of a large shopping bag. Figuring they were homeless and had no place to cook and eat a meal, I felt bad that I had to shoo them along. The people who pay my salary and help provide me with the place to cook and eat my dinner do not want people of any situation having an unauthorized picnic on our steps and ask me to ensure that.

One of the men, neatly dressed in black slacks and a colorful red/yellow/blue patterned shirt went off. He threw whatever he was eating, the plastic forks and a few small rocks at me. Telling me in no uncertain terms I did not understand what it was like to just to try to find a place to eat in peace. "Don't fuck with me," he screamed, "I am from Cuba." This I kind of doubt as he said "Cue-ba" as we say it instead of a more native "Coo-ba". I guess I was supposed to be afraid of that. I told him to leave, immediately. He threatened to kill me.

Happily he left, cursing and screaming towards Main St. I called 911 and luckily got a dispatcher on the first try. After giving the description and telling the dispatcher I would like a follow up, I left for 303. Soon the sirens blared.

The officer was nice, I could not hear him well, but apparently this character is new to the city, caused some trouble from time to time and they were keeping an eye out for him. I guess they stopped him and likely let him go. I thanked the officer and he told to call anytime we saw him or for anything.

For the first time ever, I am thinking of getting a gun and learning to use it. If you know me at all, that was as unlikely a statement as the Pope denying Jesus. But times are different. I am forced to walk, bike a bus, out on the streets more, and they are not safe. This morning, I bought a couple of canisters of pepper spray, mostly sold to women to carry in their purses. I got the ones you can attach to a key ring. I feel a bit safer.

What a crock. I am in more trouble than this threatening, volatile, desperate man is. Go and threaten and intimidate someone, they shake your finger at you. Traffic violations? Get the shit kicked out of you.

No wonder the streets are mean.

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