Sunday, July 17, 2011

Life lesson from the school of hard knocks

On July 4th, I learned a very important lesson…never confront gang members when they have fireworks. I was home nursing a hangover from Sunday lying on my couch. My living room faces a closed off street that serves as a pedestrian mall. Around noon, the calm was shattered when my windows shook from an explosion. Yes I said explosion, not fireworks. My first reaction was that someone had fired off a shotgun. After I got off the floor, another loud boom sounded from the pedestrian mall. When the fourth explosion rocked the neighborhood, I decided to go outside to investigate. The local gang kids were lighting off M-80’s 10ft from my condo building. Small children were running around and could have easily been put in danger since an M-80 is 1/3 or 1/4 of a stick of dynamite. My front half neighbors were all out on their balconies watching with concerned faces. Okay backing up, my condo building has two halves. The back half (where I live) is the ghetto half where there are no balconies or yard. You enter through two locked doors. The front half is the beautiful (and expensive) half where it resembles Tara from Gone with the Wind. It has large white balconies and a fenced in small yard. Okay back to the story…I called up to my neighbors asking them if they had called 911 yet. They said everyone had called the cops, but another call wouldn’t hurt since the cops would be spread thin due to the holiday. I called 911 and described my concern for the combination of children and hand severing explosives. I could practically hear the operator roll her eyes at me before cutting me off and hanging up. Granted I don’t blame her, another call about kids and illegal fireworks…on the 4th of July. Since the fireworks were going off so close to my property, I snapped some pictures on my phone just in case they damaged our building and we needed to file an insurance claim. I heard the teenage boys shout out “yo yo, cover your faces, she taking pictures…yo you can’t do that, that’s illegal.” I then made the mistake of saying “well I am just getting evidence for the cops when they show up.” MISTAKE! They then shouted threats at me and started chasing me with lit roman candles and bottle rockets. Instead of running to the building back part (where I would have needed to whip out my keys and unlock the door), I headed over to the fenced in yard for the front. I yelled up to my neighbors to buzz me in. Once I was in the yard, the gang bangers lobbed firecrackers over the fence. I ran into the building and hid out in my neighbor’s condo. Of course my neighbor was on the phone with 911 again, and I heard him say “yeah and now they are shooting at us” to the operator. After things calmed down around there, the neighbors snuck me out the back way and into my place (there is no enclosed connection between the two building halves). Just another day in the hood. The next day, the cops held a holiday BBQ right outside my place (go figure, a perfect location for a gathering of cops since they normally would be hanging around here anyway). Our new alderman was even there and my neighbor related the story to him. Hopefully this will help spur the clean up on our block.

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