I do not usually put the date at the top of my post but this is the day it happened.
It was about 7pm, still day light on a hot summer day. I was working at the shop when two young men walked in. One was wearing a white dego T-shirt with black Adidas pants that laid right below his buttocks so his dark blue boxers showed completely. The other guy was wearing jeans that hung low but not as low. He had a colorful jean jacket on with a large afro that had an indent on the left side.
The white dego tee guy walked up to the counter saying something. I looked directly at his eyes and said “I do not understand what you are saying?” I always give eye contact to people I feel might be trying to intimidate me. Even if I am scared it makes the other person think twice about my strength. He replied, “I was singing a song”. I said, “Oh, good”. And I continued working.
The other guy lingered around him looking around, not talking at all. He had a toothpick in his mouth. Dego T guy asked if I give samples of the froyo. I said, “Sure”. And handed him one sample cup. Usually I give people 2 cups but I didn’t feel like these folks were here to buy anything.
They both walked to the back by the machines. Just past the machines is a short wall with a bathroom to the right and a water fountain outside the bathroom. Directly ahead is a door with a sign that says “Employees only”.
Recently in the neighborhood news there was an article about men in groups of 2 or 3 coming into businesses, asking to use the bathroom and sneaking into the employee’s area to steal purses, money or merchandise. Because I was uncomfortable with these boys I watched them closely from the counter.
There was a woman with her two kids sitting at a table near the machines, a woman and her child at the counter and a single woman sitting by the front door. As the woman and her daughter came up to the counter to pay the man with the toothpick went into the bathroom while the dego T guy sampled some froyo. He was taking heaping piles of froyo and reusing the sample cup. I noticed later that he would just let the froyo pump out without even catching it leaving a mess of froyo in the drain trays.
As I was about to ring up the woman and her child I noticed my back door opening. I ran over there and yelled at the man to get out. “You know exactly where you are going, get out of my store right now!”. The man turned around and began walking towards the front door, slowly. The dego tee guy stood there taking more froyo. I turned to him and said, “You get out, too. You two are together. Get out!”. He stood there finishing his generous sample of froyo and told me to wait. I said again, “Get out now”. I was standing maybe 15 inches away from him blocking the machine. I stared right at his eyes while his profile was facing me. He slowly turned to look at me and stared right at my eyes.
I told myself at that moment, “Don’t look away, don’t look away!” In that moment I thought he could sucker punch me right now and lay me flat. I thought of my son John and how sad he would be to see me hurt. I thought of the girls that work for me and thanked God they were not here and I am. I thought about how it was my brother birthday tomorrow and I just want to talk to him. I prayed he didn’t have a weapon. He finally looked away, tossed the used sample cup away and walked towards the door. I walked tightly behind him as he looked back at me twice. I stared at the back of his head as he walked out. I wonder what he was thinking when he looked back at me.
When they left all the tension in my body released. I started to shake. The woman at the counter said “Wow, I don’t know if I could have done that. Good for you”. I rang her up while my hands were shaking, handed her change and said Thank you.
I walked outside to get some air. There was a family sitting outside. They come every week with the kids and order pizzas, froyo and drinks. He asked me if I was all right. I gave the dad a short story on what happened and he encouraged me to call the police. Why didn’t I think of that? Call the police!
The first set of police arrived fairly quickly. After explaining what happened the police officer asked if I want to file a report. I was confused, still a little shaky and said “I don’t know”.
The officer said, “If you file a report you will need to go to court, are you prepared for that? Also, do you want your business to be known as a place where the police are called? Media and community meetings get a hold of this and news spreads.” All while nodding his head no with his lips pierced together trying to look concerned.
That thought scared me and I said No. They ended up leaving.
About 15 minutes later two different police officers came in. The officer asked what happened. I told him again. He said, “You know we found them in the alley, we think they ditched a gun or a knife but our hands are tied because you didn’t file a report. These boys are from the west side and come down here doing this all the time. They are juveniles.” The officer was angry.
I told the officers I would file a report if they came back. Before they left the officer softened up a little and said “Good job sticking up for yourself. I doubt they will be back. But, if they do make sure you call us!”.
Since this happened I have been thinking about why I make the decisions I make.
Why didn’t I file a report?
Why didn’t I tell the 2nd group of police officers how the 1st group talked me out of filing a report?
I felt manipulated by the first set of cops. I felt like a child being scolded by the 2nd set of cops. In both cases, I was people pleasing. I made a decision based on what I thought they felt was the best choice. Deep down I knew otherwise but did not change my mind. While this was happening I was scared and looking for guidance. I didn’t know what to do but I knew what was happening didn’t feel right. I remember having feelings like this as a child, and at that time I didn’t protect myself either.
Trust your gut. Pause…stop and think about what the right decision is. Sometimes in these situations we can’t stop or pause. But, I wish I had trusted my gut. The most frustrating part of this now are people telling me “You should have…”. Everyone else seems to know what I should have done.
I just have to believe that it’s God’s will that this happened this way. I keep replaying the scenario in my head and thinking of all the bad things that could have happened. I also keep thinking, what if I had filed a report? They would have brought those boys back to the shop for me to identify, I would have had to go to court. Would someone retaliate against me?
I’m glad it’s over but it’s still lingering in my mind. I can’t seem to let go of the idea of them coming back.