Friday, August 15, 2008

The Bad Neighborhood

So I was at my Friday meeting with the CEO of my non-profit workplace, all well and good this morning. The meeting goes well, I get everything done, talk to a few workers at the front desk, and leave for the day, on my way to the mall to exchange some clothes.

I'm driving down Bath Street, past a landscaping crew. Bath Street is right off of Route 44/Smith Street, and right in a pretty dicey neighborhood. Not a place that I'd normally walk around alone.

Suddenly, there is a BANG! and my driverside window shatters.

My first thought - someone is shooting at me.

I brake, and half the window falls onto my shoulders and lap. I'm freaking out. A guy runs out of a house on the street: Are you OK? One of the landscapers comes over and does the same.

Slowly, I figure out that one of the landscapers with a weed whacker must have picked up a large rock while working, and it shot out and smashed into my window. He comes over, young college kid, very apologetic. I do what I always do when I get scared, which is desperately hold back tears and try to tough it out.

I don't even know what to do. Do I call the police? How am I going to get all the glass out of my car? When I get out, shaky but trying to be an adult, the rest of my window crumbles into the car and on the street.

The guy who came out asking if I was alright took my keys, put the car in neutral, and he and the other landscapers pushed my car off the street. The guy, I think his name was Scott, kept saying, God that must have scared the shit out of you. Are you alright? The supervising landscaper comes over with phone in hand, calling his foreman at Providence Water, and says we have to wait until he comes, because the city has to pay for the damages.

So in the midst of all this, in the back of my head I'm thinking - is it safe to be just sitting here in this neighborhood? Is this Scott character trustworthy? His house is crumbling, overgrown, he makes jokes about getting high last night and how he's used to this kind of excitement around here.

The supervisor says for me to call the police, to file a report and make sure that Providence Water can't duck out of paying for the window. So I do. I'm sitting in the car, calming down, and talking occasionally to Scott and his landlady, who are sitting on their stoop, and have a vacuum in hand. They offer to vacuum up all the glass so I can drive it, but we wait for the cop to come first.

So the cop arrives. Italian, swaggering guy, very Rhode Island. Takes my information, calls me over to his car, and says "you follow me, and I'll take you to a gas station so you can clean out your car."

I say "oh, well, those neighbors said they'd help with that."

The cop makes a face. "You don't want to do that. You should go to a gas station."

I'm thinking okaayyy......

Then the cop comes to my car, and starts sweeping out all the glass from the driver's seat so I can drive. Scott and the landlady again say that they can vacuum it out. I look at them, think 'what the fuck, why am I not appreciating this offer', and tell the cop that I'm going to take them up on it. The cop shrugs and leaves.

The foreman arrives, we exchange information, etc., etc. All very apologetic. Then Scott comes over with the vacuum, and very carefully and thoroughly vacuums out all the glass from my car, the seats, and down the side. Even went under the mats.

At this point M has arrived, and it's fine from then on. I do a little retail therapy, and I'm starting to feel less rattled as I'm sitting here at home.

In thinking about it though, it's funny how there are preconceived notions of particular areas, and the people who live in them, when a hell of a lot of kindness was found in a "bad area". The cop dismissed Scott and the landlady right away, just because of where they live, I think. I found myself doing the same thing, and that sucks. Then I think about all the dicks I encounter all the time who come from "good areas."

Yes, there's more violence and crime in particular areas of the city, but overall, there's still a lot of decent people just living their lives, who want to help when they see a girl like me scared and panicking in the street.

1 comment:

ZB said...

OMG, I can't imagine how scary it must've been to have your window blow out like that!