There’s a lot in life that crosses your path that you don’t expect. incidents that occur in the newspapers or in docudramas on television that play out in a habitual expected manner. But when they occur before your eyes out of context of plot they take on an obsessive quality. Not being so spry of foot, I took off on same upon a sunny midday Easter afternoon for the second time that day in the hopes of catching some much needed sun and another stretch of my tendonitis encumbered heel. For some reason after I left the house I felt the absence of my cell phone but sloughed it off as unnecessary. I was in my own neighborhood slowly working my gate to a smoother less limp free rhythm walking in the general direction of the boundary of the forest preserve some ten clocks west. The suburb that I call home is composed of Italians, Polish and an odd compilation of European immigrants all bent upon home ownership and stability. Not a place for the vagaries of happenstance probably known more for the constancy of boredom.
I happened to notice the occasional scraping sound of someone running across the street off to my left just out of sight. As the figure past, it was obvious that she was at the passage of her twenties, fit and vigorous in her trendy black Spandex. The disparity of our gaits hit home and I sympathetically strove to diminish my limp so as to at least not appear crippled by comparison. She of course was not concerned with me not the older couple approaching from the opposite direction on my side of the street. It was so odd because I must have looked down and then up again to see her being accosted at the alley in the middle of the block by two blue cotton ‘hoodie’ cloaked adolescents. A voice within spoke to my first impulse which was to intervene. I took it totally out of context knowing on one level that this struggle was not normal but on the other hand not willing to believe that it was earnest. She seemed to dart after them into the alley. But in the next instance she came running back out screaming for help at the top of her lungs. I knew I had a choice, to take it in stride as the misdirected play of young adults, or a full blown assault. The inclusion of the police making it an issue of was I really seeing the latter or mistakenly misreading the former.
I flagged down the older couple just ahead of me who no doubt were equally perplexed and asked them to call 911 if they had a cell phone on their persons. The man produced the phone but insisted that I call. The dispatcher seemed to sense my confusion and I had the feeling that she was going to bully the information out of me with a commanding impatient tone. I had to repeat the address which seemed to escape me. I tried to precisely state the incident but the operator’s insistence seemed only to inspire more of a jumble of disorganized responses from me. As I was attempting to respond to these demands two police squads whisked by down the same street that the girl had fled to. I noticed as I past an older woman run in a frenzy to the squad car and then back into her house. I had to assume that my part in this unexpected drama had come to a conclusion. Despite my better judgement, I gave my name over the phone and was asked if I ‘needed’ to talk to the police. As the matter seemed well in hand, I declined.
The odd thing about the whole incident was how completely out of place the whole event seemed. Were the assailants really muggers? Or were they just snotty neighborhood kids playing a prank. The operator had made a point of asking me if they were’;black’ but considering the cloak of their garments, it was impossible to say. But here I was in what seemed to be the the last place that such mischief was likely to occur and yet the more I thought of it, it had. I had been robbed years before in the nicest part of Oak Park at gunpoint so it wasn’t that I was naive. And in recent months the commercial end of the community had been visited by a ‘flash mob’. But the more I considered the whole circumstance of the trauma experienced by that young woman and my patent inability to offer direct assistance I became increasingly angry as I replayed it through the rest of the day. The impotence not only of body but of spirit to challenge the poison spread of politics. That the poster child cult of the underclass as spread by the mass media was so worshipped and prevalent not only in the worst inner city ghettos but here in a community that one would have thought was its antithesis. The bullshit media inspired PC rhetoric spewed from the left-leaning face of public education spurring this sort of behavior on by anybody. How dare any government so laced with its own rotten to the core hypocrisy speak out against common citizens being able to carry the means to defend themselves! Had this been another time of place I could have well understood the justification of that woman producing something more lethal from her fanny pack than just a water bottle.
I had to ponder all day, was I somehow remiss for not attempting to loudly intervene? Or was I smart enough to stay clear and silent? What positive choice could I have walking around with such a complacent attitude? Or should I abandon all hope and not refrain from letting loose all paranoia about any traverse through the outside world? There is definitely something really wrong here in this country when people just tend to want to walk by looking at any kind of incident and treat it like another reality show on TV. When will the rest of us get off our duff and stop this crap that anyone at all has special privileges to violate another person? It is time for real’CHANGE’ in that department!