We live in a “nice” neighborhood, but it’s urban. It’s one of the attractions; it’s a pleasant, slightly upscale area that’s close to downtown and all the action. So it’s not unusual for homeless people to wander up our street.
The other day a young man, clearly stoned and/or psychotic, stopped in front of our house. He was yelling and screaming, flipping the bird, tore off his shirt, etc. He walked onto our porch and then back to the sidewalk a couple of times. My wife is watching him like a hawk. I’m watching too but I’m mostly amused. Finally he hits the For Sale sign in front of our house with his fist. He grabs the flyers in the box, crumples them up and throws them in the street. Apparently he doesn’t want us to move 🙂 I call 911.
A few minutes later a policeman arrives. We watch (as do the rest of our neighbors) as the cop talks to the young man. I know the drill; the cop can and will do nothing. I talk to the officer who as expected explains that unless he sees the guy committing a real crime he can’t arrest him. He asked him if he wanted to go to the hospital and the guy said no. That’s all the cop can do.
In the meantime our next-door neighbor arrives and she is hugging Janet and is crying. Janet is not crying; Janet is pissed. Why can’t the police take him away or at least allow her to bolo the guy. The young man continues to wander aimlessly and the officer talks to him again. He eventually agrees to be taken to the hospital.
I explain the realities to my pissed off wife. The streets and sidewalks are public; you cannot keep people from using them just because they don’t live there, even if they are stoned, drunk, crazy or all three.
I think of when and where I grew up. It was a suburban neighborhood. There were no drunks or crazies wandering that neighborhood. Vagrancy laws back in those days ensured that people who did not “belong” were kept out. Of course that often meant that anyone who wasn’t the right color was also kept out.
Janet simply does not understand the insane nature of the United States. Our next door neighbor is a construction contractor and has a few pick up trucks. One or two are often parked in front of our house. Janet is incensed. I’ve talked to my neighbor, a nice guy, and he tries to keep them from my house, but after all, the streets are public and I don’t own the spaces in front of our home. I suspect that my lovely wife thinks that the bolo to a couple tires might solve the problem.
I am not sure what my point is or if I have a point; it’s just interesting to see the cultural difference. In the Philippines I suspect Janet would threaten the young man with a bolo (and she is very skilled) and he’d run off. She’d complain to the barangay captain about the neighbor’s trucks or take the law into her own hands. Needless to say, Janet loves Duterte.
I understand her attitude. I pay plenty for my house, am annoyed by the homeless wandering through, and the inability or unwillingness of the police to lock them all up. But I also understand this is the price I pay for living in a nice place close to the action; as well as the price we all pay for freedom (or what we believe is freedom).
It did make me nostalgic for a time when the cops could act differently. I explained to Janet that the freedom we have in the US does not only impact home owners, but in my heart I wouldn’t mind taking out the bolo myself.