Saturday, June 23, 2012

Tuesday Night Stroll Leads To Guns And Liquor

TRENTON-- Imagine if you will, its 9:30 pm on a Tuesday evening, and you've had a rough day at work. You find your self strolling through an abandoned playground in North Trenton (not the safest place to be, I admit) after having a few drinks.

Now then imagine if you will, you stumble across a nameless young man approaching you in a slovenly and somewhat tipsy manner. In one hand, he has a bottle of Hennessy that is half empty and in another he is brandishing a pistol.

As the young man walks by, he asks you, "what you doin' around here? where you from? how old are you?" You take a long look at the young man who appears to be five years your junior.What do you do?

Well, ladies and gentlemen, I can tell you what I did and how I felt because I was on the receiving end of those questions Tuesday night. Between you and me, as this young man asked me questions and held the gun, on the inside, I was scared and on edge, but on the outside, I appeared calm and relaxed because I didn't know where this was going to lead. So, I patiently listened to the young man express his concerns about his life being in danger while he loaded the small handgun in front of me.

The young man seemed quite paranoid, saying random things like, "my boy just got robbed the other day' or 'I was stabbed at a party the other day'. Of course, to me, the young man's statement seemed out of place (since I didn't know him from a can of paint). During our conversation, he said that he could rob me if he wanted to.

At that point, I really didn't know what to think. I didn't want to agitate the young man any further than he already was, so I continued to listen. However, on the inside, I was saying I need to get the hell out of here pronto, I was scared.

But then the conversation began to change, the anonymous young man said, 'I don't want to disrespect you'. He then offered me a sip of his Hennessy and again not wanting to agitate or disturb any further than he already was, I took it. After he gave me the sip, he left. About 30 seconds after he left, I ran out of there, going in the opposite direction.

Indeed, this experience was an eye opener. The most obvious lesson I got out of this was that I don't need to be walking in places that are known to be high crime areas. That young man could have easily robbed or shot me if he wanted to, but he didn't. I didn't quite understand this, but indeed, I wasn't in the position to ask a lot of questions. At the end of the day, I am extremely grateful that this nameless young man didn't do anything to me. Yet this experience also opened my eyes to the highly possible reality that this young man was and is not alone in fearing for his life and that there maybe many others out there like him that are on edge and ready to shoot as well.

This situation makes me raise many questions: what social conditions are in place that influence or motivate this young man's behavior? What role do parents play in influencing this kind of behavior? What role do schools play? What role do film and music play in this kind of behavior? Is this a personal responsibility issue where family, friends, and other community activists all need to intervene to stop this kind of behavior? Or is there some policy that government officials can enact that would reduce the likelihood of things like this happening again in the future? Alas, I wish I knew the answer to these pressing questions, but I don't.

However, what I do know is that something has got to give...and soon.


  1. I wish I knew, Anwar. I do believe that this is a complex multifaceted problem with no one solution. I have been thinking about this for years and as each year goes by I have less and less of a clue.

    A paranoid intoxicated person with a gun is a terrifying sight. I am happy that you are still here to tell us your experience and I hope that you never have an experience like that again. I was mugged in North Trenton years ago. My son in Boston foolishly or bravely tried to chase down a purse snatcher and faced a gun pointed at him. Lucky for my son who said "sorry I'm backing off now" the robber didn't shoot him. Better to be humble than dead. But with both you and my son it could have gone another tragic way based on the gunman's whim. In your case you were at the mercy of a man not in possession of a rational mind.

    Drugs, poverty, access to guns, crime, hopelessness and more play a part. But that includes the the fact that the paranoid intoxicated man no right to terrorize others. He may fear for his life because he's in real danger or because he's paranoid from drug abuse. Either way he is endangering innocent lives with his fears and irresponsible behavior. He is creating real danger and terror in innocent lives by his acts.

    I just glad you are ok. I know you won't give up hope for humanity. Be careful out there.

    1. Anonymous Reader,

      Thank you for stopping by and reading the blog. Yes, it was definitely an experience that I will soon not forget. And as you said, its important that I not give up on humanity. I sincerely hope this young man can clear his mind, despite his life circumstances, both for his own sake, and for the sake and safety of others.


  2. Thanks Rob, I am glad too, believe you me.