Late Night Street Protocol

Posted: August 6, 2014 in Livin' in the USA
Tags: , ,

There’s a very clear protocol about how you act late at night walking on the street in marginal neighborhoods (my neighborhood)–“marginal” being poor, working class, mostly nonwhite, but not gang- or drug-addict-dominated, and which look way worse than they actually are.

I just went through the drill. Walked the half-kilometer to the Circle K, and bullshitted around with the drug dealer (a black guy in his 50s) in front of the place for 10 or 15 seconds — which translated to, “Good evening sir, I know why you’re here and I don’t care; I’m just here to buy some beer; I wish you well.” Which in practice went:

“Hey bro, what’s happenin’?”

“Not much, man. Just messin’ around with this technology” (pointing to his phone). “I just don’t get it.”

“Me neither. It’s for the young folks.” And I walked in.

On the way out, it was a mutual nod and “Good night bro.”

On the way back, I walked past two guys. The one on the other side of the street ignored me, as I did him, which was proper. The guy walking on the same side as I was (who was huge, bigger than me) did the right thing, stepped five feet out into the street, and kept on walking.

That’s what it’s come down to: fear, protocol, and constant vigilance. What a way to live in the land of the free.



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