Monday, July 18, 2011

Cracks in the Sidewalk

On Thursday, a TL hooker and a john were going at it in the alley, across for our roll up door. Groups of staff watched. As the excitement grew, more came to join in the view. Unaware of the street performance, I approached the crowd, inquiring about what was going on. A familiar face pointed across the street. Instead of walking away, I closed the roll-up door. It was the adult thing to do. Some shuffled off, others dissected the spectacle and one or two said, “Officer Kim,” shaking their heads.

A few minutes later, I opened the roll-up. The hooker and john had finished and were zipping up. Without provocation or even a meeting of the eyes, the hooker made a beeline for the roll-up. It caught me off-guard. Usually they wander off, the john back to his car for more trolling and the hooker using the proceeds to buy drugs.

The hooker laboriously shimmied up on our dock and slowly rose to her feet. Having a 6th sense for alley ghouls, who try to breach the line between alley and business, my verbal assault started way before she reached the dock. “Get out, get out!”

I ran for my stick – a giant, discarded wooden soup stirrer (I’m sure there’s a proper name for this thing) - and poked the air in front of her, yelling, “Get out, get out.” Her eyes attempted to focus and her mouth moved but words were indiscernible. She was totally fucked up and had no idea what she was doing. I felt sadness, but I still wanted her to get the fuck out.

My voice calmed and I pleaded with her sanity. Regardless of her illness and inebriation, “Get the Fuck Out” is one directive every TL alley dweller knows. They’re told this countless times every day and react to it like a stern push. She left.

A few hours later, another crowd formed. I grabbed my wooden stirrer and peaked out the window. 2 marginally homeless guys were fighting, one shirtless. Nothing out of the ordinary. They yelled, came together, jumped back , came together and generally did very little damage. A typical TL fight.

Three young men in flat-brimmed baseball caps, budding homeless, a decade away from fulfilling their destiny, danced around the fighters, filming every move and taunting them: “Get’em, Nigga. Get’em.” All the players in the scene were white or of Middle Eastern descent.

I tighten the grip on the wooded stirrer. This was it, my swan song; the culmination of 15 years of bullshit; the day I would join the ranks of the dregs and be a youtube video of an old man beating 3 young guys. I was ready.

The next day I watched the video on youtube. I decided against beating the homeless in-training. As I watched, I touched the wooden stirrer. It gave me comfort.

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