Yesterday morning as I’m leaving for work, I am startled by a loud knocking on my driver’s side window. A man, 30 or so years old, stands outside waving wildly, trying to get my attention. He looks very anxious. My first reaction is pure irritation; I require at least an hour to fully wake up. He starts to shout “Let me in the car! Let me in the car!” Not how I like to start my morning.
Luckily the doors had locked with the start of the ignition; however my slowly deteriorating Acura has fickle windows that tend to cave in with any jostling. I quickly throw my car into reverse, trying desperately to squeeze out of the side street spot without bumping my roommate’s very new 2008 Mazda. Of course I am parked in so tightly it takes three or four reverse and forward maneuvers until I am able to escape, but before I can pull away, he stops banging and disappears. Immediately I see a long black car tear round the corner and watch as my friend takes off down the sidewalk in a flurry of obscenities. He is being chased.
The car chasing him is full of men in hooded sweatshirts hanging out the windows threatening to do very unpleasant things once they catch him. I duck down in my seat to avoid getting shot, just in case there are any guns, half expecting to see Denzel Washington emerge, dressed as a crime fighter, to make sure I’m alright. Though I am shaken by this brief commotion, I leave more curious than afraid. Who was this man running from and why?
I consider calling the police until I realize it won’t do any good, and instead treat myself to a tall vanilla chai and the New York Times. I also decide I should be less afraid of the fat mouse in my kitchen and more concerned about the increasing violence in my neighborhood. Maybe take a few precautions. I add pepper spray to the shopping list under mousetraps and research how to defend myself against predators. “Shin insertion” is my favorite, mostly because three paragraphs later I realize all you are doing is kicking them in the shins until you are free to run and yell. This seems much easier than many of the other moves that ask me to place my thumbs and index fingers on various parts of my predator’s neck. How ridiculous.
I have not seen my runaway neighbor since his desperate attempt to use me for a getaway car, nor do I want to. I will pray for him, however, and for all the angry men chasing him, and for my ability to perform “shin insertion” if they come my way. Amen.