Weekly Column by Sharon Byrne
Saturday: I walk the dog at 7 AM. He doesn’t get the concept of ‘weekend’, so my lie-ins are extinct. An RV is parked in front of the Family Services agency. There’s a bike outside, and a man is working on it. I greet him, introduce myself, and ask where he’s from. He opens with he didn’t kill his sister by stabbing her 19 times in the San Fernando Valley. The DA believes him. That’s why he’s up here, chilling out, getting away from that mess, hoping to find work. I nod, wish him well, round the corner and immediately call the police to please come by and run a check for outstanding warrants. We’ve had this problem before…
Sunday: 7 AM dog walk. The RV is gone, a pile of trash in its place. I notice the creek is low, it’s late summer…and a woman stands up, and stretches in her PJs in front of Family Services Agency. She slept there. She is 19, as it turns out, from my conversation with her. She hitchhiked in, landed on State St at midnight, and camped. Today, she’s hitchhiking down to San Diego. At 19, I would never have hitchhiked or camped on someone’s property in a city I didn’t know. I should mention I grew up in Atlanta. People had rather strong ideas about property rights, and guns to back them up. At 10, I climbed a neighbor’s tree at the border of our property, far from his home, to watch some distant fireworks. His dog started barking. He came out, looked in my direction, and cocked a shotgun.
I fell out of the tree and fled home, terrified.
I wished her a safe journey, and meant it.
Mental note to walk the dog on a different route in future.
Tuesday, I am on my bike, across from Circle K on Cacique, and I notice a man drinking in the parking lot. I call out to him, hey buddy, how about not drinking in public like that? We’re trying to improve the neighborhood around here. He stands up and screams profanities at me, challenges me to do something about it.
Challenge accepted. Bluetooth in my ear, I call 911. The man hurls his beer at me, and it spews at my feet. He’s charging towards me. I get on the bike and start pedaling. He chases me across the parking lot. I pedal, give the police location, description, and ask can they not hear him??? He’s shouting profanity at the top of his lungs, and people are stopping to look. I hightail it down Milpas on my bike. He chases me to the batting cages, and quits, winded. The police (still on the phone!) ask where I am now. The railroad tracks at Milpas. Wait there.
I wait. When they turn up, I tell the officer what had just happened. He replied that I really must have set this guy off.
My mouth falls open. I am wondering why he isn’t jumping back in that cruiser to collar the Enraged One. He admonishes me never to approach these guys, because they’re dangerous, and mentally ill. I could get hurt. I ask him what kind of world are we living in when a citizen cannot request that someone stop an illegal behavior on private property because she might be assaulted on the spot? He advises to call the police. OK, but we do just that.
Often. Continue reading…