Monday, December 3, 2007

Division of Labor

Everyone knows that security guards are basically ineffectual. They don't have power of arrest. They don't carry guns. Still, seeing them makes you feel a little better, because you know that there's someone there dedicated to maintaining law and order. Someone who may not intervene in a crime, but you hope they'll dial 9-1-1 at least. I should have learned by now: there is no hope in Baltiless.

Rite-Aid's checkout line had snaked past the magazine rack, past the line of cash registers left unmanned while the employees shot up in the bathroom, and into the make-up aisle, but that doesn't deter the woman at the head of the line. She was determined to buy some vodka with her hard-earned food stamps. For once, it would seem, the customer was not always right, but damned if the cashier could convince her of that. We weren't going anywhere for awhile.

Fortunately, the security guard was telling stories and keeping us entertained. He'd been working the night before, and started telling us highlights from his shift.

He points out the window. "Right across the street, some guy got stabbed! Bam! Right in the chest!"

Good start.

"And the guy that did it? He just sits himself right down in that chair here. Just sits there and looks at everyone. "

"Daaaaaaaaaayum," someone in the crown murmured. "That's a natural born criminal."

"Oh hell yeah he is" agrees the guard. "He just sit there, watchin', just lookin' at everyone that goes by, tryin-a tell which of 'em's gonna snitch."

Someone asks "So what did you do?"

"I didn't do shit! Aw hell no. I'm the guard for Rite-Aid. I work on this corner, not over there. I ain't pullin' out my phone and callin' no cops with this bitch starin' at me. I ain't gettin' mixed up in that shit."

People in the crowd nod. This cat's got it together, they think. He's a natural-born security guard.

He continues his story. "So eventually the cops show up. Ambulance takes the guy away. Guy that did it still just sittin' in that chair, watching everything and don't nobody say a word. Cops go 'round, ask everybody, but don't nobody know nothin'. After awhile the cops leave, and the guy just gets up and walks off. Cops don't know a thing. And daaaaaaayum I ain't gonna tell 'em neither."

"What if I get into some mess sometime, and I wind up in the clink, and the guy sees me and says 'you're the asshole that snitched on me'? Hell no, I ain't gettin' all up in that."

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