I had an interesting experience this past weekend which really pointed out the ethical and philosophical differences between people. There’s more on that incident below the comic.
Last Friday, around 11:30pm, I was watching TV when I heard the sound of car doors and hoods slamming outside my house. I looked out the window and saw two cars: one was a white Kia sedan and the other was a damaged black Dodge Charger, both had their hoods open. Two young guys, one black and one white were fumbling around trying to hook up jumper cables from the white sedan to the Charger. Inside the white sedan sat a blond woman in the driver’s seat.
From what I could tell in the poorly lit street was that the Black guy, who was wavering around as if he was all kinds of wasted, might be the owner of the broken down car. He was digging through all the junk in his trunk for something as if he was unpacking and repacking a suitcase.
Meanwhile the white guy wasn’t doing much of anything except barking orders at the blond woman.
This went on until about 1:30am when the Black guy finally just closed the hood of his car, walked over to the white sedan and got it. Then the white sedan just drove off leaving the junky Dodge Charger sitting partly on my side lawn and partly on the road.
Being that our neighborhood is sometimes a dumping ground for stolen cars, I’ll admit I got pretty steamed at this sight. But given the hour of the night, and my exhaustion, I figured I’d deal with it tomorrow after some sleep.
The next morning I woke up, looked out the window and saw the car was in even worse shape than I thought. I walked out the backdoor and over to the car to give it a closer inspection.
It was possibly stolen car. No visible VIN number in the driver’s side dashboard. Expired tags on the license plate. Plus the car was covered in a badly painted, flat black spray paint which covered a red paint job underneath.
It screamed “suspicious” to me and to top it all off, the car also looked as if it was used as a street racer: Uneven tire wear from drifting, a crumbled front right fender, a broken right side window covered by a towel taped down with duct tape, the remains of a right side view mirror dangling from the door, and extensive scratches, scrapes and dents all along the right side.
“Somebody doesn’t know how to properly turn a corner, ” was what I thought after my examination of the vehicle.
The inside of the car was equally a mess, junk strew about everywhere and none of it seemingly useful.
But what really ticked me off was that the car’s right front tire was sitting on top of the cover to the main water valve to my home.
Upon seeing this, I called the cops to report a dumped stolen car. However before I could properly call in the report, one of my neighbors called Deb, my wife.
It was Ms. Busybody Neighbor. She reported to Deb that she was all in distress last night, due to this car breaking down in front of her driveway. Upon seeing the young Black driver, she of course got a case of “White Fright.” She told the Black driver to move it because she was calling the cops!
This is how the car landed down the street to my side yard.
Sure, I was pissed about a junk car on my lawn, but that’s why they make tow-trucks. But since the time one of the stolen cars dumped down the block was torched by the thieves, the Vancouver PD has been pretty expedient in removing abandoned cars from our neighborhood. Without further worries, after Busybody’s phone report, I finished my call to the VPD and that was that.
I spent the rest of the morning working with Deb in our garden. But mid-mulch dump, Ms. Busybody Neighbor decided to pop by for a visit to reiterate her shock and white panic. She also inspected the car but thankfully Deb helped to distract her with a tour of our garden. Except as she walked around the yard, Ms. Busybody speculated what kind of junkie and/or violent criminal owned the car.
“You think he was on Meth? He looked like a Meth-head to me!”
“There’s too many of these Meth-head MFer’s in this town!” Pauses to raise a hand to god. “Sorry, Jesus…sorry for the language.” (Apologizes for swearing but not for the sin of wrath or making wide assumptions based on race? Ugh.)
“Good thing I got a gun! You should get a gun!”
Deb told her that would be a very bad idea, since more than likely Deb would shoot herself, or me, by accident instead of any intruder.
As for my opinion on guns, I consider them to be the tools for weak-minded fools who can’t think of better ways to deal with a situation.
It was in the middle of this “Karen” hysteria and while I was dumping some yard debris in a bin in front of our garage, that I noticed the young Black man from last night was now sitting in the junk car.
I walked over to him and said hello. He told me he had just got off from work and was now waiting for a friend to show up with a truck to tow away the car.
I chatting with him and asked what happened. He said he was driving along, the check engine light came on and then, Pow! Kaput Charger.
You know how when you make small talk with someone you’re able to get a good idea of what’s going on with a person? That’s what I got while chatting with him.
Talking to this kid in his mid-twenties, I could tell: he was a low wage worker who couldn’t afford the upkeep on this car that he owned (or got through shady means. But who am I to judge?); that much like other young bucks his age, maybe he thought owning muscle car was his entryway into the “Fast and Furious” lifestyle. As the conversation went on it was apparent he was another slightly damaged twenty-something.
Although I get it. When I was his age, I was a wreck as well and left a string of abandoned junk cars all over Buffalo. Of course back then all my cars were absolute crap right from the get-go.
I tried to help him and we took a shot at trying to jump start his car with my little Scion. No go. The Charger was definitely screwed. It was either the fuel injector or something bigger. My guess is the guy didn’t think to get an oil change or do proper maintenance. Too much time spent street racing maybe?
It was in the middle of trying to jump the Charger that a police cruiser showed up.
The cruiser parked and a cop got out, walked over and asked if everything was good, since several neighbors called about the car.
I thought, “Several? How many Nervous Nellies are in this neighborhood? ”
I told him it was fine and that we were dealing with the car. The cop didn’t press it further and luckily didn’t inspect the Charger closer. That could have spelled big problems for my young Black friend here.
The cop took off. I pulled my car back in my driveway. The young man said he needed to walk to the store to go get something to drink and kill time until his friend showed up.
And that was the last that I saw of him.
The car sat there until Monday, when the cops came by and towed away the vehicle.
What I learned later from Deb was that while I was chatting with the young Black man, Ms. Busybody Neighbor went into hyper-panicked “Karen” mode.
She asked Deb if I was crazy to talk to this guy, why I wasn’t frightened, …and why I didn’t own a gun.
Deb told her, “Ed is the kind of person who looks at someone down on their luck and thinks, ‘There but for the grace of God, go I’.”
Deb told me Ms. Busybody got a persnickety face when Deb, the Jew, was quoting Bible verses to her holiness.
Ms. Busybody also said, “Is Ed saying anything about me, and who lives with me to this …this… meth-head?”
Deb eased her fears and told her that I was just talking cars with this guy, which I truly was. I was marveling at the Charger’s engine.
Later in the day, Ms. Busybody further inquired to Deb, “Did he tell Ed what job he worked at?”
I told Deb to tell her he was fully employed …mugging nosey, old white ladies.
Deb knew better than to repeat that.
Overall I’ve learned a couple things from this incident.
First, is that you never know the depths of your neighbor’s bigotry until something shakes up their comfort zone.
Second, that I was able to make such an idiot nervous just by being friendly to a stranger.
Let’s hope that eventually such people will learn fear, bigotry and ignorance are self-imposed prisons.
Well friends, that’s all for this week. May you all be the Palms of peace and goodwill.
Have a neighbor who needs a wider worldview? Or better yet, how’d you overcome the ignorance of others?
Ever been in a dangerous situation or a foreign land and realize a gun would have just made it worse?
I’d love to hear your stories.
I get a laugh from provincial inexperienced mindsets. Once you’ve visiting dicey third world countries and avoided trouble, or lived in places like Jersey City in the 1990s, where houses not only had metal gates over their doors, but over the whole of their house, and where bullets whizzed around the block from Mob and Gang shootings, you learn to be pretty well prepared for the milquetoast melodrama of Pacific Northwest suburbs.
I myself am a unaffiliated pet person and support both parties. But back to the other thing, I haven't played the game in a few years but if memory serves paper beats rock and the international symbol for that is a palm folded over a fist. Game over.