Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A frightening Incident

On my way home from work today, I stopped in to the local 7-11 to pick up a few things. It was late in the day and, as usual, there was only one cashier at the register.

In line in front of me was a young lady who I observed rushing into the store before I got there. She looked to be in her early 20's, a brunette.

Anyway, she bought a half dozen items or so, and stood at the counter with her purse open, her wallet, her keys, a cup of coffee slowly proceeding to put things away. She was oblivious to the fact that someone was behind her waiting patiently for what must have been about three minutes.

I proceeded to pull a few bills out of my wallet, and hand them to the cashier who gratefully accepted them. My change, if any, would have been a few pennies, so I was prepared to leave the store. The young "lady," in a manner of speaking, then confronts me: "You're in a hurry, are you?" she says. "Yes," I said, "I'd like to pay for these items, and get on with my day."

She exits the store. I exit, too, whereupon I notice that she gets in her car, and proceeds to block the entrance to the 7-11. She had a young man next to her who appeared to find the whole encounter amusing. "You better be careful, lady, or somebody might hurt you," she says and looks at me menacingly.

I get in my car quickly, and lock the door. My car window is down a bit, and she yells out, "You heard me, lady, somebody might hurt you." Her boyfriend started laughing. Obviously, I had no intention of getting out of my car to walk over to her car, and confront her. I recognized her accent which sounded a lot like my students in Los Angeles.

There is no way I would have gotten out of my car to approach her. The first thought that entered my mind when I saw her car parked there was---get in the car, lock the door, and don't respond. She might be packing.

No one had ever followed me from a store, and threatened me like that before.

A woman in her early 40's walked over to her car to find out what was going on, and the girl just started gesturing, and next thing I knew she drove up.

Funny thing is right down the street there was a sheriff parked in a car marked "Sheriff's Department." On my way to the store, I noticed him sitting there with his head neatly bowed into his lap evidently text messaging. On my way back, he was still sitting there, only now he appeared to be doing paperwork.

Given the incidence, albeit rare, of women being held up at gunpoint only blocks away from where this encounter occurred, I found it rather odd that there wouldn't be more surveillance. It's not as if there was no police car, and it's not as if there isn't any crime.

As I drove him, it occurred to me that I'm old enough to be this young woman's mother, and then some. It also occurred to me that if I had called local law enforcement, I would have been told "a threat is not a crime," and nothing would have been done.

What scared me most of all was how little it mattered to this person that the person she was threatening could have been her mother, her teacher, or her next door neighbor. The brutality, and enjoyment of brutality---brutality for brutality's sake sent shivers down my spine.

The only thing that distinguishes human beings from animals is conscience. This creature clearly doesn't have one. What can be more frightening than living in fear of one's children.