Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Public Throwdowns & People Willing To Start Fires

Without looking at me, he says, “What do you want”? Cleaning his nails, buffing them, shining them, whatever the f--- he’s doing with them, just murmurs, “What do you want”? I give him the benefit of the doubt and continue like nothing condescending happened. “I’d like the glazed donut over there”, I ask. He peers up from his delinquent nail polishing. “Which glazed?” he responds, with a cadence that they’ve been serving an assortment of glazed donuts since the Civil War and that it has been established by law that the Finnish Bistro on Como Ave. in St. Paul has more than one kind of glazed donut- how in Gawd’s name did you not know? I immediately go into a mode of inherent sarcasm raising my voice as if talking on a cell phone with bad reception, “I’d like the glazed donut over there, behind the one with the sprinkles.” He gets it (no, not the donut. The sarcasm). His left eyebrow fluxed ever so slightly along with the corner of his mouth- almost a grin, but not quite- his job hasn’t been this exciting for awhile. The constant flow of house wives, librarians, and middle-aged St. Paul white male angst has grown old on him. No one’s contended his condescension for some time now, so it’s become a wager of “let me take your order without looking at you” until someone decides to drop the gauntlet in this m-----f-----r.

After making the testy response of Michael-Buffer announcing my order to him, he counters with, “I get it, but we have several glazed donuts- Old Fashioned, Raised, Plain…” Now, I understand I should’ve, and maybe could’ve specified a bit better, but I did say “the glazed donut behind the one with the sprinkles”. There is only one donut behind the one with the sprinkles- the one with the sprinkles is pressed against the glass of the display glass screaming for dear life for someone to buy it’s diabetes-inducing sugar kingdom so there is only one “behind” in this situation. Either I’m asking to buy the display glass, or I’m asking for the glazed donut behind the one with the sprinkles- I digress!

So now it’s a mainstay of either I physically point to the donut, or play into his hand. So, I walk two meters down the stretch of display case, look at him, then look at the donut, look at him, then point to the donut. Highly underestimating this man’s hand, while walking back to the register ready to pay my USDollars for this pastry, he looks where I pointed and says, “Ok, which one are you talking about. There is an old-fashioned here and a raised.” And at this point there is no gauntlet, it has been throw amidst the stadium and into the parking lot amongst the tailgaters and ticket booths. I play it cool, like never, and make a direct finger-point and eye contact with the donut.

“Oh the raised!” he says. Words are dead to me at this point. I pay the man, and have my seat with coffee & pastry.

Of the two things that’ve happened in the past hour, that ranks 2nd. What takes 1st was the trip to the coffeeshop. Honda & I coasting on 94 towards the Huron Blvd exit, I noticed a distinct story on NPR. It was about a man who was just released from prison after murdering someone 14 years ago. All I can recollect of his name is Boca Negro. Boca had killed a man over a decade ago, and is now working in the trenches of a low-income neighborhood to prevent youth from committing the same crime he did, or from falling into the same lifestyle he did before being admitted to prison. He tells a story of a kid that came to him to tell him of his family members carrying guns and dealing drugs and how he consults the kid without involving the police. These cases are hella-sensitive in the fact that once you incriminate someone such as a family member, that shit can come back to bite you in the ass… or shoot you in the face. Either way, snitching never ends pretty.

Boca never discusses the element of snitching, but the element of preventative measures to avoiding a lifestyle of violence. The NPR host, who I believe his name was Robert, asked Boca how he defeats such a violent natured lifestyle while growing up in the trenches… physically & mentally. They dialogue for a few minutes and then move on to a caller. It’s a man who speaks about beating his wife, in which he soon admitted himself to AA and found that not only was alcohol fueling his violent demeanor, his worldviews and perceptions of humanity were also contributing to the problem.

I can recall half-a-dozen or so times where I’ve heard on ESPN’s Beyond The Glory, VH1’s Behind The Music, or any MTV Rockumentary where someone says, “I lost the people I love most, my job, my kids, my everything… all on account of my addiction to (insert substance here)”. Now, as fucked up as that may be, to call in to NPR and say you were on the brink of it is a whole ‘nother monster. I almost leaned into the radio to listen closer, as to not miss a word of this hella-important confessional. As I peak up to exit onto Huron and make my way to the Conde-fucking-scending Finnish Bistro, I see a man yelling at a woman besides a car parked to the curb of the exit. The car, clearly broken down and parked amongst construction off of the exit, frustration seemed to be taking the best of the guy. Careening closer to the situation, almost to Essex Ave., I see the guy cradling the woman’s head. It looked as if he were consoling her while she held her face in shame. However, something didn’t seem correct about the picture I was looking at. The tension in his face didn’t match “consoling”.

Peering towards the light turning red, I hit the brakes slowly on Honda- jea, we got it in tune like that- and peer back towards the situation. The guy, still holding the woman’s head as if to console her, pulls his right hand back and decks her swift to the left side of her skull. “Holy Shit”, goes off in my moral alarm, paired with “Did that just fucking happen?!?!?” I look back several times while the guy keeps her in close, to then push her off and pop the hood of the car.

Ok, I can drive away. He’s not going to Ike-Turner that ass in the middle of public/broad daylight, right? No way. I can drive away, they’ll be fine- Boca continues on the NPR program, the husband call-in thanks Robert and Boca for chatting with him, my phone buzzes from a txt msg. Is it hot in here, or is the eminent government shutdown turnin' up the heat in this m----f-----r?

Can’t not do it- I grab my phone, dial 911. The guy on the other line transfers me to Minneapolis. Apparently the Huron exit is so close too close to St. Paul for them to discern one from the other. I tell the lady on the other line what happened. She takes my name & number, and I continue my venture to the bistro.

… and that was the first time I had ever seen a man physically strike a woman. I had heard it happening once at a party from another room, to then soon intervene and halt the abuse from continuing- I’ve paid witness to verbal abuse, but never this. I decided not to call NPR, and just keep this one between 911 and I.  

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