Saturday, August 2, 2014

the bright, burning light of politeness.

The other day there was an intermittent loud honking out in the street. I finally identified it as a silver BMW sedan which would drive up part of the street, honk, do a U-turn in the intersection, honk, drive back down the street. Over and over.

At last I noticed the driver had stopped cruising and parked over by the corner. I decided to go ask them to stop honking their horn. As I walked up to the car it occurred to me that there are a few folks living in the area who might not respond well to some random guy asking them to quiet down. I decided to deal with that if it happened.

As soon as I saw the young man in the driver's seat, I felt a little awkward, because he had a fascinating array of tattoos, most of which I would (admittedly in ignorance of the details) associate with gangs and/or prison time. You know how some criminals have teardrops tattooed under their eyes, typically assuming to correspond to people they killed? This guy had musical notes. A quarter note and then an eighth note, if I remember right. Well, okay, maybe I'm about to go ask a gang member to keep the noise down. No point in turning back now.
"Excuse me, sir? Are you the one honking his horn?"
The driver looked furtively around, in pretty much any direction except my face. He is looking at his phone.
"Yeah, I just gotta meet my friend at this intersection."
This is new. "You don't know where he lives?"
"Nah, he just said this intersection."
Still looking everywhere but at me.
"Is there anything I can do to help you find him? The honking is pretty disruptive."
"Nah, I just gotta wait for him."
 Luckily for our driver, I spot another young man coming down the street toward us, clearly the awaited passenger.
 "Oh, this is him..."
"All right. If you can stop the honking, I'd appreciate it."
And then back to the house.
I hate to draw conclusions about people, but I'm going to assume that our tattooed driver, furtively honking and looking around for a guy he doesn't know to come meet him at a specific intersection--rather than, say, an address--was involved  in some criminal activity. Some theory, some observation:
  1. There's no criminal genius here. Nothing about this episode screams "Professor Moriarty."
  2. It's interesting to just walk up and ask. It could go bad, but...
  3. ...I think the young man didn't like the attention. I've written before about how you alter the situation by just being there and letting someone know they are seen. I'm hoping that by signaling that sketchy activity is noticed, they'll take it elsewhere.
Ah, city living.

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