I threatened a guy with a crowbar on Friday. I don't know what's gotten into me lately.
It was the beginning of Memorial weekend. Staff had places to be and I was closing. A drunk guy who had come in earlier was asleep on the couch. An hour before he had been singing loudly. Staff was in an indulgent mood. Now he was my problem.
At close to six, I tried waking him and got nothing. Wes and I conferred. I called 911.
The dispatcher asked if I'd tried yelling and shaking him. Yeah, I said. He just won't wake up. "Is he breathing?" they asked.
I should have said no.
They declared it a medical matter and said someone was on the way. A half-hour later, there I was, reading my email, listening to the drunk guy snore.
Wes told me how when he drove cab some smelly drunk with no money crawled in the back and wouldn't leave. He pulled the guy out of the car and dumped his ass in the parking lot. Some liberals who saw the whole thing gave him shit for it.
But that wasn't the end. Wes got the guy's bugs on himself. He didn't notice at first, but his date did. Wes didn't get laid that night.
There was a moral to the story. These things are never as easy as they look.
I tried waking the guy up again. This time more vigorously. He looks at me. "Hey, you gotta go. We're closed."
"Fuck you," he said. Then he closed his eyes.
We had a short chat. I called 911 back. "My guy woke up, but now he's belligerent and won't go."
We did that thing where you describe the guy while you're looking dead at him. This is normally asshole's cue to leave. But my guy didn't care. He was going back to sleep.
They said they'd cancel the EMTs and send a car. They were pretty busy.
At around 7:20, Wes had another story for me. He told me about how once some guy hit his cab and drove away. It took three hours for the cops to come and take a report.
I let that sink in for a few minutes and went into the back room.
I was striding purposefully toward the front when I heard a far off voice. "Oh God. He's got a crowbar."
Wes was standing next to Anitra, who was hanging out at a computer with one of her StreetWrites buddies. She looked up with mild alarm.
Right. Like I'm going to beat some drunk homeless guy to a pulp with a crowbar right there in the front office of Real Change.
I just wanted to impress him. I'd never seen him before. I wasn't taking any chances.
I pushed and pulled and yelled. He regarded me with disdain. "Fuck you," he repeated. I grabbed his arm, pulled him off the couch, and dragged him down the two steps to the front exit. He sat in front of the door and refused to move. I shoved him out of the way. He looked at the crowbar. I opened the door. He moved toward me.
"Fuck you buddy. I was in Vietnam." His shirt was pulled up. I saw ace bandages. He was pathetic. It was a fucked up situation. He mimed karate moves but was too feeble to present a threat.
Anitra, who is even more ADHD than me, got between us and went nose to nose with him. "No," she said, inching him out the door, "You're leaving." We were both dead calm. In the zone. In a crisis, people like us are good to have around.
Before we knew it, he was on the other side of a locked door. I called 911 again and told them to cancel the call.
"What happened," she asked.
"I got tired of waiting and chased the guy out with a crowbar."
"You took matters into your own hands," she clarified.
"Yeah," I said. "I did."