Wednesday, November 14, 2007

So, last night

I rode in the back of a police car for the first time in my life. Now, that's an intriguing opening line for a story, yes? And it's true. Last night I was in the bodega (and it's the same question I always have - is it a "bodega" if it's run by Koreans?) down the block and there was an altercation at the register between the proprietor and a young man, and the man refused to leave, saying he would "take something" first. The man at the register waved me forward and I handed him a $20 and, as you would expect, the other guy grabbed the $20 out of his hand and raced out of the store. The proprietor jumped over the counter and raced out after him. And I called 911.

Now, understand, this argument between them had been going on for several minutes. I was ready to pay but held back, concerned by their raised voices that something might happen - a weapon produced or the angry guy lashing out at me, the person on the side of the counter with him. And when they raced out of the store, my only thought was that the owner would be lying a block away in a pool of blood after a fight.

I would say 10 police officers showed up within 4 or 5 minutes. That's something to feel good about, right? But of course then I felt really guilty and silly. The owner of the store came back just then; he'd lost the guy he was chasing. One officer (a woman) questioned me and asked me to ride around in the back of her car and see if I could see the guy anywhere. I didn't. When I got out they took my phone number and asked if I'd be able to identify him later. I said probably not. (I should have said no, but the idea of participating in a lineup is intriguing. They'll never find him, though, based on my flimsy description.)

Oh, and in case you are curious, the cameras in this particular Korean bodega do not record.

Oh, and when I went back into the store with the police, the owner gave my not only my purchases, but change for my $20. I was still too stunned to do anything but take it, although now I feel like I should have refused the change. Split the loss, so to speak.


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