Friday, March 25, 2005

Still shaking.

Around 11:30 PM, I walked out the door to take out my trash when a man across the street made a bee line for me when he heard the noise. He asked me if it was trash, and I said something like "no thanks." I was standing on my stoop and backed into the doorway since I'd locked the inner door behind me. This made me trapped between the man and a very cranky, stiff locked door.

He was still approaching, and I knew that it would take longer for me to open the cranky door than for him to reach me, so I didn't want to turn my back. He saw my fear, and said that my neighborhood was crazy with how paranoid we were, and that he just wanted to take my trash out for a few dollars. He was a big man, twice my size, probably stood a strong 6'2 and was very solid. He kept approaching me, trying to engage me, and that's when I took out my mace.

He stopped advancing.

I'm 5'4, petite, no match for that man, but all of a sudden I had somewhat of an equalizer. At least one that said I was aware that bad things can happen to me and that I was not going to be lulled into a false sense of security.

He told me I didn't have to get out my mace, and I said that I was maced right where he was standing by people who pretended to be nice, and that I didn't trust anyone.

I wouldn't have engaged him at all had the damn lock been reliable to just open and had I had my keys in hand. The only thing I could do was work a little psychological voodoo on him while I fumbled in my pocket and felt for the right key with my free hand.

He said a few more things, that his name was Craig, and that he was hard up. I said, "I'm sorry, but I'm really freaking out right now." I looked over my shoulder and waved to someone inside, and very obviously relaxed. I then moved toward the door. I said, "My neighbor."

There was no neighbor. I was waving to thin air. But he couldn't see that because he was standing at an angle. He stayed where he was, warded off my mace and the possibility of there now being more than me to deal with. By then, I'd located my keys. I backed away and put the key into the door, and went inside. I left my garbage bags there.

There is no question in my mind that he intended to harm me. He was disarming, charming even, but you don't walk around at 11:30 at night hoping to find a girl taking out her trash so you can make a few bucks by doing it for her. He was walking around, trolling for victims. He saw in me a perfect one.

Until I took out that mace.

He wasn't dressed like a bum. He was dressed to be disarming. I wasn't really freaking out, I just said I was so I'd seem like a harder target. When I got to safety is when I started the shaking and freaking.

For those who don't know, aside from us apartment dwellers, most of my neighborhood is well off. The rowhome on the corner just sold for over 600K. Not Beverly Hills or Upper East Side prices, but not cheap either. A lot of them are lavishly decorated, showing even more wealth to those who pass by. This neighborhood is surrounded however, by the ghetto. And when I say ghetto, I mean, crack infested boarded up, broken down ghettopocalypse. The 'hood is a step up from these ghettos. Because of that, the people here are frequently a target of crime. Especially, since we also are home to MICA. College students make very attractive targets since they obviously have money and don't want to "offend" anyone by being rude.

Tonight, I didn't care about offending this guy. I cared about not being mugged, raped, beaten up, or murdered. And because I didn't care about offending him, I wasn't. Perhaps his intentions were genuine, but I sure wouldn't want to find out the hard way that they weren't.

I went upstairs and knocked on my neighbors' doors and asked if they wouldn't mind walking me to the trash cans with their BIG FUCKING dogs. They were kind enough to do so, and leashed up the dogs who were all too happy to go on a walk. My neighbors were also armed with mace. As I walked with them, I realized how sweaty and hot I was. Adrenaline.

When I got back, I decided to call the police. They came a few minutes later, and I walked out to their patrol car and told them about my incident. They said that they would keep an eye out for him as they patrolled. I have no doubts that "Craig" was a predator. At least the police can hopefully prevent a crime if they see him, as criminals hate to be visible. Or, if there is a crime, I know that I did my part to try to prevent it.

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