Many people don’t think I pay attention. But I do. Maybe not to the same thing you do but, trust me, I pay attention.
Sometimes I’ll be paying attention to something and, if there’s really nothing going on, I’ll make up my own scenarios. Give the people back story based on a movement, a word, the manner of dress. Many of those situations creep into the things I write.
Other times I get a full blown life played out right in front of me. During those times I just sit back and enjoy. My own personal 3-D theater experience whose only admission is perfect timing.
I’m waiting for the bus outside work. We’ve been closed over an hour but it’s not too unusual for cars to pull up to the building when we’re closed. People are stupid, after all. I see one so head into the kiosk for a little protection (it’s my experience if they see me they’ll try to talk me into opening – ‘For just a minute!’ – or just annoy me when I’m not being paid to be annoyed by them) and watch the proceedings. It’s often funny to see how badly they freak out when they realize the building is shut tight.
Two guys (younger black guy, older white guy) get out of the car but don’t seem to be paying much attention to the closed building. There could be a logical explanation (they’re waiting for someone on a bus) but I have an inkling that’s not the situation. They seem to be formatting a plan.
I watch as the black guy, pulling his hoodie hood over his head, heads across the parking lot while the white guy laid back. I watch the black guy enter the drug store then the white guy slowly walk over.
Then nothing for about five minutes.
Suddenly the black guy runs up to the car, opens the back door, tosses the booty hidden in his jacket in, tears off his jacket, then the hoodie, then a t-shirt (revealing a different colored t-shirt), tosses it all in the back, closes the door then runs to the passenger side, opens the door, gets in, sits and shuts the door.
Less than a minute goes by when the manager comes fast walking in the general direction his perp was seen heading. He’s scanning the area. Seeing no one other than me (not a suspect) and a guy slumped down in a car (yes, he is of color but there’s no jacket, no hoodie, and the t-shirt is a different color). He walks past the car to the end of the building, looks one way, nothing, heads in the other where he is out of view for a couple of minutes.
The black guy gets out of the car to scan the parking lot. He must see the white guy because he waves frantically before jogging back to the car. He slumps down just as the manager enters the parking area. The white guy sees the manager so heads away from the car. The manager, still scanning the area, sees the white guy, who has his arms wrapped around his midsection, but quickly dismisses him. The manager actually passes smack in the middle of the car and white guy with each of his robbers within arms reach.
Due diligence duly done, the dejected manager begins to head back to his sullied store. Once the manager has his back to him, the white guy quick steps to the car, starts it up and they pull away.
I’ve told this story a few times over the week and the resounding response has been that I am a total asshole for not being a crime buster. I can see that point. Society breaks down when people turn a blind eye. But I didn’t so fuck you and your self-righteousness. I had to let the story unfold naturally. Besides, why didn’t the manager at least ask the guy in the car if he saw anything? Why didn’t he ask me?
But the actual reason I didn’t help was more selfish. I wanted to see it unfold to it’s natural conclusion. How else would I get the opening scene for the crime caper comedy that’s been bouncing around my head?