Blanketing opinions that I'll probably regret soon.

Monday, March 31, 2008

My Next Door Neighbor is a Heroin Addict

He's not just a "neighbor" in the distant sense that I can see his house down the street; this affable heroin addict's row house shares a wall with mine. That close. It's mostly sad and pitiful, but sometimes scary.

Right when I'm out of the country and can't be there to comfort my lady --- god dammit --- my lovely wife witnesses a back-alley confrontation from the bedroom window. In her email to me she writes:
I was awakened at around 1:15am from a sound sleep by men's voices. Loud, shouting, swearing, coming from the back alley. I looked out and saw three homeless-looking dudes having a big altercation. Two were walking away from the third guy, who was bellowing abuse at them... "F'ing bitch ass n--, get back here! I'ma kick your f'ing ass, you punk n--" etc and on and on. They were yelling back at him but mostly walking away quickly. He was sort of running after them.

I considered yelling "I'm calling the police" but decided against it, which I was later very glad I did.

After a few long minutes of this, they continued east through the alley and I lost sight of them and went back to bed. A couple minutes later, the lone man came back, shouting "COME BACK WITHOUT A KNIFE NEXT TIME, N--! GET BACK HERE WITHOUT THAT KNIFE! YOU F'ING N-- BITCH!" etc.

Again, I thought about calling the cops but figured he would leave soon. He made his way past our house and stopped at the end of the alley-- and opened the back fence and went into the house next door! That's when I realized it was (our neighbor). He went inside the house and continued to bellow and shout and carry on for another 45 minutes.

It got me thinking about some things. My one comfort around having a heroin addict/panhandler as a next door neighbor was everyone's assurances that he's basically harmless. The man I saw and heard last night did not seem harmless and neither did his associates. At least one of them had a knife which was apparently brandished during their altercation. He is more dangerous than I originally thought, and those kind of people make me nervous. I imagine we'll see more of their type hanging around as the weather gets warmer.

I also thought a bit about the elderly woman who lives there. I've never seen her. Have you? I wonder what her life is like, and whether she is treated ok, and what she thinks when her crazy, fucked up son wakes her up in the middle of the night with his shouting. I wonder if he ever abuses her physically.

Gentrification is something we're all supposed to be against amongst polite liberal company, but many of us just wish it would hurry up and get here especially when shit like this happens. I wonder if people who sing the ills of gentrification really know what its polar opposite means when it lurks just the other side of your wall.

Spring is here, people. Spring is here.

An aside: Our other neighbors are good people and we honestly love our new house and neighborhood in 16th Street Heights.
We have some drug situations in our neighborhood too and we call the police every time. It's tempting to hold off due to worry that it will be obvious who called, but most of the time those worries are unfounded -- you don't have to give your name or number and clearly anyone could have called or the police might have just happened by. It's one thing to resist calling the cops because of noise disturbances but I think you need to call if someone is potentially in danger. I know you don't want to get involved, but unfortunately, you might get involved one way or another if someone fires a gun or something like that. Even if it's not that serious, what happens if one of you were trying to come home and that shit was going on in front of your house instead of in back? I'm serious, call the police.

Even if you don't necessarily feel that saving the life of some dangerous junkie is worth risking involvement, consider that sometimes calling the police on these people leads to arrests for different crimes. I heard through our list serve that someone complained about a fist fight outside their home, and when the police came they found that one of the men involved was a suspect in a recent homicide that the police had not been able to find to arrest.

I also recommend getting on your neighborhood's ANC / MPD email list serve. Sometimes those things are loaded with people complaining about illegally parked cars and noise problems but it's a useful information exchange -- the police are on the list serve and respond immediately to questions.

Anyway, please don't think i'm being critical of K for not calling, because I'm not sure I would have done so at first either, but I did want to give my two cents. My own experience has shown that it's better to call the police. You'll be improving the neighborhood. You're not taking a stance against the people who were in there before you, you're taking a stance against crime and dangerous situations.

I should note that it's also one thing to call the police because you don't like kids loitering and things like that, which really does kind of just make you feel like you're trying to change a neighborhood that was there before you. But when there is dangerous illegal activity, drug use, and crime, there is often violence. I would be inconsolable if something bad happened to you guys so CALL THE POLICE NEXT TIME! Better safe than sorry.

(When did I turn into my mother?)
I agree, Call them!! or Call me I will come ASAP! Chris
call colin's dad. He will then call in an airstrike.
I like K's word choice of "associates"

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