Struggle

Wherein Our Hero Lives to Tell the Tale

Yesterday afternoon was great. While she may insist that it was nothing more than a cheap excuse to get drunk on a rainy Sunday afternoon, I'm gonna call it a date. I had a blast.

Unfortunately, the "Lives to Tell the Tale" portion of the title does not refer to the date, but to the living hell that I had to endure afterward.

After we parted company, I hopped on the Max to get home (for those who don't know what it is, it's a train that runs through our city). Oblivious as usual, I didn't pay attention to my surroundings as I sat in the back and started reading a book.

Voice 1: It sucks being homeless, but at least I ain't gay. You know why it would be bad to be both homeless and gay?

Voice 2: Why?

Voice 1: Because I wouldn't have a closet to come out of.

Voices 1, 2, and 3(!): laughter.


I realize that I'm surrounded by these guys and I glance at Voice 1. He's a rough looking gentleman with a Nazi SS tattoo on his neck. I go back to my book, but all of a sudden, I can't read. Voice 3 is sitting in front of me; the Nazi tattoo guy is behind me and Voice 2 is across from me. From the state of their clothes, I'm guessing they are all homeless. The rest of the Max is full, though. I'm the only one who was willing to sit by these guys.

Voice 2: What did we have for breakfast this morning? A beer?

Voice 1: No, we didn't have nothing for breakfast. We're starving.


That struck me as odd. Why the hell are they asking each other what they had for breakfast? I used to be homeless. I could always tell you exactly when I had my last meal. Then it hit me.

Voice 4 (the one in my head): they're saying this for your benefit, idiot.


The train pulls to a stop and I get off. I don't know what was going on, but I didn't want to find out.

At this point, it's starting to get dark. I walk along the tracks to get to the next Max station when I realize I'm walking up to Skidmore fountain. If you've walked through there before, you know that there are some unsavory characters hanging around there.

As I round a corner, I see a row of guys sitting on the sidewalk and one of them gets up and starts walking to where I am going. I can see that he'll get there just after me and he's staring at me. I cross the street and hurry to the stairs to get up a level. He doesn't follow and maybe I imagined it, but I'm getting paranoid.

I cross the Bridge to the west side of the river and walk south to reach the next Max station. When I finally get there, I run to catch the Max that's pulling up. I sit down relieved and open my book. Then I look up to see who's arguing. Some teenager is yelling at an old man, grabs the railings, lifts himself in the air and kicks the old man with both feet. No one says anything or tries to help the man. I pull out my phone and call the police and the teenager and a young lady with him hurry off the Max. I relay the incident, but feel useless as I put my phone away. I doubt the kid will be caught.

After I get home, I'm pretty shaken up and decide to find a nice nightclub, listen to some music and relax. I just don't want to be home. I'm heading down Marin Luther King Boulevard when my phone rings. If you're familiar with big cities in America, you know that streets named after the famous civil rights leader are invariably built in poor, crime-riddled areas. Pulling over and talking on the phone is not advised, but that's exactly what I did. I pulled into a side street, turned off my lights and chatted on the phone while keeping my eyes peeled.

I realized that I was on a very dark side street and I started to feel uncomfortable, but there was no one there. After a minute or so of chatting, I saw a guy ride up behind me on a ten-speed, circle my car and come near my window. I looked around and didn't see anyone, but reached down and released the parking break. The man asked me what time it was.

Me: 9:30.

Him: You police?

Me: No.

Him: You want something?

Me: No, go away.

Him: You are police aren't you? You police.


That's when I realized that this guy, who was also acting rather goofy, was trying to distract me. I looked to my right and saw a guy coming up to my car. He hadn't been behind or in front of me, so I knew this was planned. I slammed the car into gear and floored it.

Needless to say, I did not sleep well last night.
Holy shit, dear. I hope your travels are more safe in the future :(
holy shit.
That is one fucked up day. I'm glad that you're all safe and okay. I had no idea that MAX was one heck of an unsafe environment--as much as I hate to generalize, I make sure that I try to avoid unsavory-looking and sounding folks on mass transit, especially in this age of violent street gang "families" who are known to assault without impunity and remorse.
FOR THE LOVE OF GOD AND ALLAH! Talk about a bizarre turn of events! I'm glad you got away from the thugs and hoodlums! eek!

At least the early half of your day was fun. What a coincidence---so was mine! :P
That is why you never pull over to talk on the cell phone. Just better to talk and drive.

Christ. Glad you're okay.
training for ovid....
ya know growing up in the bay area and skateboarding through east oakland for punker parties i learned quick how to carry myself. You need to develop a crazy face that eminates to would be attackers that they arent going to do it easy and unscathed . I'm small framed and i rarely get fucked with especially in portland. One thing that has helped me personally is playing pick-up basketball all over town. I know the lingo and I know to interpret their body language, now this is predominatley good with african-american hoods. The punker/street clan in portland is different they are more selective in victims but acting crazy and pissed off will almost always work in getting them to leave you alone. I know you dress a certain way and always look nice but it makes you a target. your facial expression will get you out of most situations and dont talk !! or plead a small smile like you welcome the ensuing melee will usually deter most as they obviously dont like to work hard for their spoils or else they would have a job. If you do get attacked and have no way to outrun them get in close its harder to punch you that way and be more ruthless than they. take an eyeball and smack or punch the adams apple make those your primary targets. You would be amazed at how most people freeze up in tense situations, wow Ovie that had me envisoning you as chales bronson in DeathWish...
Holy crap, you got a case of the crazies too!!!

Glad to hear you are okay...