Monday, August 04, 2008


People tell me stories. Let me rephrase that: Complete strangers will tell me their traumas within five minutes of meeting me. Then we'll never see each other again, or if we do, I pretend to have forgotten the story.

It makes sense, if you think about it. I mean, you don't want to tell your close friends and family the worst stuff. You'll be asked about it later. It will make its way back into your life. How are you supposed to feel about these things, anyway?

A young man in his mid-twenties who works for an accounting firm downtown had the worst weekend of his life recently. He invited a friend who is finishing up grad school in another city to come for the weekend, for an early graduation present.

They ended up in the Strip district on Friday night. As they left a bar at 2 am they realized their pockets had been picked. Since their phones had been stolen along with essentials, they had the doorman call the cops for them.
To file a police report.

The cop who turned up to take down the mundanes of the theft, he didn't take these two young men very seriously. Consider the frat-ish bar, the long cargo pants shorts, the polo shirts. In the Strip.

The kid from out of town called the cop on his attitude. After the cop tazed him, the cop cuffed him and put him in jail.

The guy telling me the story, his hands would just shake every few minutes. Clean-shaven with pressure of the story in his face. If I hadn't invited him he wouldn't be sitting in jail today. God will he be able to get out and go finish this one assignment he has left to do, its due Monday. I don't know how to get him out of jail. This is the worst weekend of my life. This is the worst weekend of HIS life.

A few minutes after he left my company, his powerlessness still lingering, I thought about the Wisconsin cop who stalked me for a year. Officer Elliott pulled me over at least once a week just to say 'hi' until I collected a thick stack of paper warnings. Only after I gave those to the judge I served gin gimlets to every Tuesday night did Officer Elliott back off. The judge told me later he'd made a few calls.

I thought about the intersections of race and gender and power and the police. I thought about how this young man had bumped into a reality that many other "others" are much more familar with.

I realized that I didn't know that there are white-shoe accounting firms in downtown Pittsburgh.

1 comment:

Merge Divide said...

I got a kick out of this passage...

"The kid from out of town called the cop on his attitude. After the cop tazed him, the cop cuffed him and put him in jail."

I wonder what's missing between the lines here.

The other thing I noted is that this guys says this was the "worst weekend of (his) life". If that's not pure melodrama, than I am amazed at just how sheltered some people in society really are.