Friday, July 13, 2007

The slumlord

When I was a slumlord in Chicago in the 1970's I didn't own a gun. I should

One night, about midnight, the first floor of a two flat in Humbolt Park called
me to tell me that some kids had broken into the basement and would I please call the police. They weren't going to call the police because they didn't trust the cops to not tell the kids who called (a Puerto Rican neighborhood with a lot of street gang activity).

So I called the cops.

They argued with me, since I was calling from another address, how did I know anything? I explained to them. They said they'd send a car but I would have to be there. I said, Okay, I'll drive over.

It was snowing. I lived at 2900 N on Halsted. It was only about 5 Miles to Humbolt Park. But it was snowing.

I drove over. It took me a while becuase the snow was fresh and the street was slick (it was the first snow of the year). No cops waiting when I got there.

I didn't want to check out the basement by myself. I had no flashlight. No gun. I was tired. It was snowing. I was not happy. I sat on the front porch to wait for the cops.

Three kids, who apparantly had gotten bored with trashing my basement, came walking around the front of the house. They walked right in front of my (the basement had a door on the side of the house).

By the time the third one was in front of me I was really disgusted. I grabbed him by the collar of his jacket and headbutted him up against the porch. The other two ran off.

We got into it, knocked a chain link fence down in the process (that belonged to a neighbor). Nobody got hurt. Both of us had heavy jackets on and were moving in a kind of cumbersome way, it was mostly more like a comedy routine. He did pull a knife and cut my jacket, but I knocked it out of his hand and it got buried in the snow.

I didn't chase him, I just sat back down on the porch. I didn't want to go down
and secure the basement door until I was sure everybody was gone.

I waited. Waited. Did I tell you it was snowing?

A cop pulled up. He sat in his car. He didn't get out. It was snowing. He might get wet if he got out of his patrol car. He waved to me to come out to the car.

It was still snowing. I walked to his car. He rolled his window down, and asked me if I was the building owner and what was going on.

I told him that the kids who'd broken into the basement appeared to have left but I needed him to go to the basement and check it out just to make sure.

"It's snowing", he said.

"Yes, I'm aware of that", I said. I stared at him. He didn't budge.

He said, "If you think they're gone I dont really need to check it out".

"Look, I said, I know three of them left. I don't know how many there are to start with. One of the three did this (I showed him the cut on my coat) when I tried to detain him. I need the lock the place up. I don't have a gun. You do. Get off your fat, lazy ass with your gun and your flashlight and make sure the basement is empty or I'll take your fucking gun away from you and do it myself".

I have no idea why I was not arrested.

I think he realized that I was an irate citizen who was giving serious, rational
thought to just killing him for the fun of it.

He got out of his car. Went to the basement. Said it was empty. "Thank you, officer". He left. I had some stuff in the bed of my pickup that I was able to use to board up the door. (I did most of my own maintenece work on my buildings and kept various stuff in my truck at all times). It never stopped snowing.

I went home. It was after 3 am by the time I got home. I couldn't find a parking place. So I parked in the bus stop in front of my condo. I had to go to work the next morning. I got a $20 parking ticket for parking in the bus stop.

Cops. To serve and protect. Unless it's snowing and you're parked in a bus stop.

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