Hello everybody, I am sorry about my overly long hiatus from my normal writing schedule. I didn't forget, I just have been busy. Anyway, it's time for an update.
Last Tuesday, September 12, was a big day. Apple Event, new Barenaked Ladies album and a potential mugging avoided. Yes, last Tuesday I was almost mugged on my way back from work to the record store to pick up my new Barenaked Ladies Are Me album. I was walking down Telegraph, the famous street in Berkeley, with a lot of independent shops and an equal amount of homeless people. It was mid afternoon so the sun was shining and people were out and about. Obliviously talking on the phone to my mother, I noticed a normal couple in front of me being approached by a hippie/homeless man. The shady man holding a skateboard in his left hand approached the couple saying, "You see that cup over there? Well, you're going to put money in that cup." The female side of the couple said in a stern voice, "um, sorry dude, no." I wanted to avoid the situation by going around the confrontation thinking he was just a normal bum looking for spare change. However, I heard an exchange of words and I turned around to see the man raise his skateboard in threat to the couple. We know about "fight or flight", my conscious in its infinite wisdom decided to choose fight that day. I yelled. "hey man knock it off". The guy turned to me and approached me, I said to my mother over the phone, "sorry mom, I will have to call you back, someone is getting mugged" as if it was a normal occurrence. As soon as he started to approach me the couple scurried off the other direction and didn't even stay for back up. So here I was, an 18 year old college student coming back from a long day of school and work carrying his backpack, only wanting the CD he has been waiting for months. As they couple sheepishly ran off I thought, "great, now it's just me and this guy while busy Telegraph Avenue is oblivious.
The man, who was ironically wearing a tie-dye peace shirt and sporting dreadlocks began to get close to me giving his whole rehearsed homeless story, telling it as if the world owed him something. He had a scar under his left eye, presumably from a fight with his crack or heroin dealer. I gave the flower child retort saying that we didn't need violence and that he can just go to the local shelter or wait patiently for someone to drop change in his cup on their own terms. He continued to tell me he has been out there for weeks constantly getting spit upon or kicked and that this was his day "to vent". I knew I couldn't just walk away, he might have come after me, so I stupidly opened my wallet and said to him, "If I give you this will you leave and get the hell out of here?" I never really got a response, but I gave him a dollar and watched him turn the corner from telegraph onto a different street.
I am sure this was part of his routine and I thought about calling the police, but I thought finding one homeless person in Berkeley was as tough as... well finding a specific homeless person in Berkeley. I know I didn't do the exact right thing, but I feel like I did something and that's more than the male side of that couple can say. Where did he go anyway?
I picked up my phone, "Hey mom, sorry about that..."