The Element of Surprise
So… the other night (Thursday) I was followed into my building. I noticed this person from the main avenue walking pretty briskly behind me but I turned and made eye contact just like I knew I was supposed to but really thought it was a figment of my imagination. I turned the corner to the street where I live and it’s about 30 paces from the corner to the ramp to descend into the building but about 40 paces from the corner to the stair well. (handicap access) I went to continue down the ramp and this person sped up to use the stair well to cut me off at the front door or to meet me there or whatever he was doing. So I picked up my cell phone to call my parents. Someone was going to know if there was something wrong with me… I was on the premises at some point (if I got dragged away or whatever). Phone was ringing… I made it to the front door as this person was coming down the last few steps of the stairs. When you enter the building there is a main door that leads to a foyer (which I think I really wouldn’t call it a “foyer”… this IS the ghetto…) and then a security door which opens with a key that leads to the main lobby / mailboxes / elevator.
I opened the main door and stood with my back to it (as if i was standing aside for this person to use their “keys” (which I KNOW he didn’t have) to open the door for me. I stood there and observed this boy with my keys in hand ready to thrash him if i had to (mind you… in 31 years here in NY, I’ve never carried a weapon, no mace, no nothing because i’m more afraid of hurting myself with it than hurting anyone else LOL!) and trying to devise what exactly is in the bag he’s carrying. “This kid isn’t from here,” I’m thinking. Firstly, there aren’t many black kids in this neighborhood — and if they are, they’re Dominican black… and you can tell the difference. PLUS because we’re in a now heavily latino populated neighborhood the “hood” dress is slightly a step up. It’s hood, but it’s extra neat, extra clean and crisp. Cornrows are always tight or fros are super symmetrical and rounded out. My godson (who just turned 20) drycleans all his stuff. It’s never wrinkled, shoes are always super white (if sneakers) or polished to a shine. And this is typical of all the young black men in this neighbor hood. This kid had a dirty essence to him. His hair was a mess, his coat was dusty / dirty. He was just generally unkempt. He just wasn’t from here. You know you can tell what my dirty south folk call “off brand niggas”. He was DEFINITELY off brand. So he walks in past me — I guess he expected me to open the security door to give him entrance and when I didn’t, he did the fake move to “look” in the lobby as if he was looking for someone or something, sucked his teeth when he didn’t find them and he exited out the main door which I let close behind him. I stuck the key in the security door, opened it just enough for me to slide through and closed it behind me, and ran up the stairs.
All the while, the phone is ringing because my ‘rents haven’t picked up. I live on the 2nd floor. After the first staircase, there’s a landing that I have to cross because the building is then separated into East and West wings. There is one stairwell that enters in from the East, and then based on which side of the building you live, you either cross to the west side on the 1st floor, or keep going up. In that landing, there is an exit that we call “the roof”. For all intents and purposes it looks like a roof — but it’s on the 1st floor. It’s an area that joins my building with the building behind it. And it’s locked by a huge metal security door and no one who lives in my building has the key save for the superintendant. Which as I was walking by it on this particular evening, had a stick in it (so someone from the outside could gain entrance. As I’m noticing the stick and getting ready to climb the stairs on the West side, my dad picks up. So I talk to him for moment, make sure I let him know I’m in the building and he informs me that he’s on the other line. but I just wanted to get across to him that I was here on the property. I managed to keep him on the phone long enough to get to my front door and key my way in.
I shut the door behind me, greeted my parents and went to disrobe in my room. Thinking to myself, I do well when I can plan things out. But had this person surprised me from behind or jumped at me from out of nowhere, the inital paralysis of fear that I feel would have gotten the best of me. I know because my godson has done it on numerous occasions to me as I’m walking home from the train station alone. He’ll just jump at me from no where and scare the bejesus out of me. But if I can see your game plan, I’ll manuever 2 or 3 steps ahead of you and remain calm. Of course if he pulled a Glock out of the bag and pointed it in my face, I probably wouldn’t be blogging right now. But that’s neither here nor there.
I found myself feeling annoyed that they took so long to answer the phone. And it’s usually due to my father’s inconsiderate nature. He is on the phone so if the call waiting beeps, he’s never in a rush to answer it. And I’ve made the argument to my mom a million times — but it’s preaching to the choir — that if there was an emergency, no one else in the house would ever know becuase Dad doesn’t want to answer the phone. So I calmly pulled my mom aside and let her know what happened, so that she could maybe talk to dad tonight about just answering the call waiting a little faster. I called my brother and let him know what happened and he suggested that I call my baby and let him know as well (even though I wasn’t going to, because why worry him?). But I did, and honestly, I can’t say that he sounded affected by it. He was pretty even keel, didn’t ask me any questions and we kept the conversation moving. Which… surprised me. But I was taking everything in stride that evening.
I was thinking about the whole thing before I went to sleep just marveling at how it all happened and thinking about the different dimensions of reality where things may have ended up. And I said a prayer to thank God for watching over me. Then I thought about my dad’s indifference. I thought to myself that he just… doesn’t seem to care about anyone but himself. Me and my brother were talking about it earlier this. We just never understood how my mom (who is the most selfless person that I know) ended up with this self absorbed person. It frustrated me and I felt sad because it really felt like only my mom and my brother actually were concerned about it.
Till the next morning. When I guess my mother had had an opportunity to speak to my dad. Who pulled me aside before I left for the morning and he informed me that if I’m returning to the house on my own late at night, to call when I’m coming off of the train so that he can walk out and come get me. My frail dad that a good brisk wind could knock him over offered his frailness to protect me. He said it a few times through out the day and again… I was surprised.. because I didn’t expect that deep down inside, I’m still his little girl and he still actually WANTS to protect me and I really wasn’t expecting that. I liked that surprise better than any other