02 August 2010

A day in the life

Woman Stabbed During Carjacking

I only shop at this particular grocery a couple of times per year and only if I'm in the neighborhood for another reason. I am saddened by this crime, but not at all surprised. For the last eighteen months or so, I've been approached by people looking for money or trouble nearly every time I leave the house.

The problem has been particularly bad in grocery store parking lots and the stores themselves. I've been hit up for cash in the frozen food aisle at one of the groceries where I customarily shop. The same woman using the same story has approached me multiple times, in different parking lots, at different times of day. For a time, large numbers of people were hanging out in one store's lot, conversing between cars, staring at people going in and out of the store. I have actually been chased across the parking lot by people trailing behind me, yelling, "Wait, wait, I need some money!"

Wait? Really?

I know this makes me sound heartless, but I'm not. We give regularly--money, food and supplies--to the local rescue mission, and we donate clothing and toiletries to a charity that tries to get the jobless back into the workforce, not to mention the charity that we support with food bags for homeless children.

The weirdest part about the woman I see in the parking lot and the man in the frozen food aisle is that they appear to have been coached. Their stories sound as if they've been memorized from scripts and are similar in theme and lengthiness. They are set pieces, and the woman I see so frequently never varies in what she says. It's creepy, but it also enrages me: if someone is coaching these folks on how to beg, it sets up situations like that which occurred in Orange this morning. I know people who will still stop to give money to someone who is begging, and they become distracted and unwary, and therefore, vulnerable. A lot of us, women in particular, were raised to be nice, polite, and caring for our fellow humans. So we listen to the pleas rather than walk immediately away; we try to help.

The police haven't said yet exactly what happened between the woman who was stabbed and the man who assaulted her. Another woman at the same grocery where the incident occurred said she had been approached by a man who was panhandling. Whatever the case, we've definitely noticed an increase in violent carjackings, purse snatchings and armed robberies of items as small as iPods.

Fortunately, the police have caught the suspect, but it's another cautionary tale: be vigilant wherever you are and whatever you're doing.

Go listen to some good music: "A Day in the Life" from the album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band by The Beatles.

No comments: