Memorial Day

Certain holidays never held any importance to me. This isn’t out of some disrespect or apathy for the reasons they exist, it has more to do with the fact that for most of my life these celebrated three-day weekends always ended up with me going into work and getting time and a half while being partially staffed. Let’s not think that I don’t care about people who died in combat or that I have some kind of disrespect for the labor movement although I will say the crappy healthcare and meager pay, I received most of my life shouldn’t be celebrated. Where are these fighters for the common man now? Thanks for the weekend but I work most of those as well.
One of the first Memorial Days I enjoyed as a day off came a few years back when I was living my myself in my house in the ghetto. The smell of barbeque was in the air and the music was loud with windows vibrating as cars drove by and fireworks (gunshots) could be heard in the distance. This was a normal Friday night/ Saturday in the hood except it was taking place on a Monday. I was enjoying myself by either hanging out inside or sitting on the porch reading whatever book had my interest at the time.
Around noon I heard the sound of sirens a few blocks over and didn’t think anything of it. This was a common thing in the neighborhood and to not hear sirens would leave one to worry that something was happening and nobody was responding to it. Something was always happening.
An hour later I could hear a small group of guys coming around the corner from Haye’s Park and this usually meant there was going to be trouble. They were yelling things to draw attention from the neighborhood and when they appeared there were three guys and two girls walking behind them.
“These Niggas think they going to talk shit in our hood. Chicago muthafuckas don’t know who they are messing with. We gonna show these niggas what’s up!” It was the tiny guy in the middle who was doing all the talking.
Next door a party had been going on all day. The house was rented to one woman who was middle aged and back in school. A few weeks before I watch a guy leave her house during a similar party and stash something under my porch. He left and later came back looking around puzzled that the laptop I had found was gone. The next day I knocked on the door and the woman answered. She looked intimidated at the bald white guy standing on her porch. I asked about a laptop and she ran from the door upstairs and came back a minute later screaming somebody had stolen it. I went back home and brought the laptop over with the power cord that was stashed with it. Everything still worked and I suggested being picky about the people she had over. Of course, it wasn’t her fault it must have been a friend of a friend. I described the guy and she was pissed; it was her nephew. I let her know that I had lived in the neighborhood for a while and if anyone tried stuff like that at my house they were being buried in the backyard. After that comment, there were eyes watching me every time I was out back picking tomatoes and planting herbs.
I watched the guys stand out in the street and yelled at the house with a group of guys on the porch talking back. Women stood in the yard rushing the kids inside the house. After a minute the guys in the street pulled their guns. There was a submachine gun, something you might see from a WWII film, a Berretta 9mm with an extended magazine, and the third pistol being aimed at the house. There must have been 10 kids inside the house and I hoped they were in the basement. I rushed to find my phone and had trouble dialing 911. The operator answered and told them there was a group of guys in the street in front of my neighbor’s house with guns drawn. There were kids in the house. I gave descriptions of the individuals and told them about the girls standing in the street with them.
“Are you sure the Berretta has an extended magazine?” dispatch asked.
“Yes, it’s sticking out like a foot under the handle. Where are you guys? These people are going to be killed.”
‘We are on our way. Keep an eye on them but stay safe.”
I stayed on the line and with the guys on the porch not saying a word as they had guns aimed at them the men in the street had decided that they made their point. They walked down the street, turned the corner and disappeared. The police arrived 15 minutes later.
By this time the women in the house were packing up their cars and going back to Chicago, the safer city. “These mother fuckers are crazy over here. What the fuck was that. Why are you mother fuckers talking shit to these crazy people. You ain’t bad ass. You don’t have no gun. We’re getting the fuck out of here.” The guys didn’t talk to the cops but the women threw in their own two cents.
“Do you know the guys who pulled the guns on you?” an officer asked.
The man on the porch stayed silent.
“Ya he knows them. Starting shit and bringing it to my house. What the fuck did you think was going to happen?” she said tossed an arm full of clothes into the trunk of her car.
“You realize these men fit the description of the men who killed a 13-year-old boy two blocks over an hour ago?” the officer was making a point that they should be dead.
The man stayed silent and the women hurried up loading their cars and putting their kids inside. In less than an hour they had packed up and were heading back to Chicago.
“What am I supposed to do?” the man said as the woman walked to the car with her keys.
“Get a job, stop thinking you’re a thug you freeloading bitch!” she hopped into the car and drove away. The guys stood on the front lawn with no house, no cars, and no balls. This was the fastest I had ever seen anyone move out of a house.
The street was quiet. The party was over. I sat on the porch and relaxed as I watched the same three guys walk around the corner looking at my neighbor’s house from across the street. I pulled my phone out and dialed 911. I went inside and acted like I had just received a call.
“The guys who pulled guns on Clinton are back.” I told the dispatcher.
“Are you sure it’s the same men?”
“They are wearing the same clothes. The girls aren’t with them, but it’s them. They are watching the house across the street.”
“Do you see any weapons? Do they have the guns?”
“I don’t see any.”
“Can you find out?”
“I’m not going to ask them!”
“We are on our way.”
I rolled my eyes and continued giving updates as to where they were. Once they reached the intersection down the street police cars swarmed in and guns were drawn. The guys looked around surprised and were quickly cuffed and put into the back of squad cars.
It turned out they were the men that had gunned down a 13-year-old who was “talking shit” and when these guys pulled guns on the neighbor most of the police force was two blocks away securing a crime scene. The guns were found at a friend’s house, dropped off after the showdown. My nerves were shot, adrenaline was starting to subside and I found myself passing out on the couch in the middle of the afternoon. I almost watched a house filled with people be massacred over two groups of guys measuring their dicks. One person died that day, he was referred to as a good kid and didn’t deserve what had happened. A day later the public learned that he had been kicked out of school, was shot a week before during an altercation and this time the job was done right. There is a life lesson here, if you are doing something that got you shot maybe you shouldn’t do that thing again.
The house next door stayed empty for a while. The rest of the summer was quiet, no that’s a lie, who am I kidding, it was a non-stop shit show of ghetto fabulousness. That was the start of the summer and I hadn’t seen anything yet.

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Adventures in Cooking: Part 10

It’s not everyday that a person is a victim of a terrorist attack. No, I’m not talking about 9-11 I’m referring to the Crossroads Mall Pepper spray gas attack of 2000. There are things that do not mix in nature. Oil and water, chocolate and vanilla, white trash and money, but sometimes they come together, and the outcome is never good. Look at the Kardashians for the last example.
It was spring and while the birds were chasing one another and the bees remained hard at work helping flowers have sex, the hormones of the mall were also in full swing. There weren’t too many feuds that happened in the mall. We never competed against the McDonald’s crew to find out who was better. There wasn’t a Greek food vs Asian food fight happening to figure out dominance, and by the way Asian food would have won hands down. The orange chicken at Oriental Express is worth swinging by the mall for. The one group of douchebags that we could not stand was the security guards.
For me this was an odd gang that roamed around in their uniforms for the soul purpose of hitting on girls while trying to look good catching shop lifters. Like any wannabe cops they collected any weapon they could carry except for a pistol. Their belts were customized towards each guard showing their different personalities. The one common element was the radio, everything besides that was a combination of handcuffs, which they couldn’t legally use, zip ties, baton, tear gas, pepper spray, flash light, and any doohickey that can attach to a keychain. There were moments when we would catch the guards hitting on the waitresses, fucking up our times and pissing off everyone in the restaurant.
“Lindsey, order up for 12,” Nate hollers out of the kitchen towards the doors.
Heads turn and the guard waves his hand telling her to ignore Nate. I caught this and popped out to see if she had heard. Their eyes were locked, and the guard was instantly pissed I was interrupting.
“So, you can arrest people? That’s so cool,” Lindsey says looking at his zip ties.
“Hey Lindsey, your order is up.” I look at the guard’s belt with a smirk.
“Hey buddy, I think she can take care of it.”
If there is one thing I hate about douchebags, its when they call you buddy. I’m not your bud or buddy. I’m certainly not your bro. unless there is some DNA test I don’t know about, I’m not your brother. Those guys can fuck off and this meant war.
“So, you know that you don’t have the power to arrest anyone, right. Plus, you can only restrain someone if they are a threat to themselves or others.” I said, knowing the laws.
He rolled his eyes and spit out a “pts” before saying, “you don’t know what you’re talking about.”
He didn’t argue just tried to discredit. It was game on.
“Are you really going to strip every time you try to arrest someone?” I asked.
“What are you talking about?”
“The zip ties on your belt. They are looped around but you connected the ends so the only way you can get them off is by taking your belt off and since it is going through the loop of your pants that mean the pants must come off as well. So, are you going to strip them into submission?” I waited for a response.
“Fuck you,” the guard said.
“Oh my god, he’s right. How would you get those off there?” Lindsey said.
“Lindsey, get this fucking order.” Nate yelled from the kitchen.
Lindsey went to the kitchen leaving me and security douche by ourselves.
“You’re a fucking dead man.” The guard said. “fucking cock blocker.”
“what are you going to do arrest me. Keep your clothes on, I’m not into that.”
“Don’t get mad at me because she wants some of this.” Then he took a low blow. “At least I’m not working some shit job in a kitchen.”
“Hey asshole I worked security for two years and we had to deal with protestors. You chase shoplifting teens out of hot topic. Have a nice day dick bag.”
“Fuck you.”
“Not if you took me to dinner and a movie first.”
The fight to have the last word went on until a call came through the radio. Elderly man stuck on the escalator. Real action-packed stuff.
The guards continued to come around, and in the end, things did not go well for them. The police were called. EMS showed up. The fire department came to the rescue. You know, the real men in uniforms.
Lindsey and the guard were in their usual mating ritual. Lindsey decided to be the aggressive one and pull the pepper spray from the guard’s belt.
“Hey, give that back.” Yes, it really sounded that pathetic.
Of course, Lindsey didn’t and played a short game of tag until her thumb hit the button and a mist went into the air. The guard jumped back, and Lindsey dropped the canister on the floor. The area was instantly cleared as people coughed and rubbed their eyes.
In the kitchen, I had an itch in my throat. Nate Dawg started to cough. The servers rubbed their eyes as they grabbed their orders. Customers coughed as they ate. I started to cough.
“Mother fucker, are you burning something?” Nate said rubbing his eyes.
The doors opened to the kitchen. “The police are clearing the mall,” the manager said. We learned the whole story outside.
In the food court a customer had a severe asthma attack. People in the Sears store had itchy eyes and horrible coughs. The people in Hot Topic discovered a new way to torture themselves without cutting. Some people feared it was a sarin gas attack like what happened in Tokyo with the subway terminals.
The police came out, long with every other first responder in the city of Portage. This wasn’t the act of Islamic terrorism, religious nutjobs, or societal anarchist. No, this was the result of hormones.
The pepper spray entered the ventilation system and was pumped through the entire building. Two levels of stores plus the anchor stores on the ends are all tied into the same system. One spray of the guards $5 toy cleared out an entire shopping mall. The police kept the building cleared for five hours to air everything out. While people like to say that pepper spray is harmless the category is technically ‘less lethal’ rather than ‘non-lethal’ force. This was the great Crossroads Mall pepper spray gas attack of 2000; Al Qaeda would have been proud.
After this event security was not allowed to carry pepper spray anymore. Management contacted the head of security and demanded that the guards no longer come around the restaurant unless they were called, which we ever did. It’s difficult to shop lift a sandwich from a place that you dine in. The mall eventually went back to normal and the event was forgotten. To this day when people say they carry pepper spray for personal protection, and when they work indoors I shake my head and tell them to find something else. There has never been a substitute to a good knife and there never will be.

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