“Who watch is that?”
He came out of nowhere. Kept asking me about my wrist watch. Where I got it. Who made it. Too much focus on the watch.I knew what was coming. Why were criminals compelled to ask a bunch of questions before they violated your already-diminished faith in humanity?
I guess it was sort of nice how muggers tried to warm you up for the kill back in the 70’s. At least that was my experience.
Today? No small talk. It’s right to eating your face. Everyone is under a time crunch. I mean everyone. At least another person was taking an interest even if he wanted to kill me.
I always wondered if this questioning technique was effective. I guess it did indeed work as I was ready to turn over a watch I knew I should have never worn to high school even before I recognized a six-inch stiletto blade ready for action.
It was my late grandfather’s gold watch, too. It was the first time I wore it. I had enough sense to keep it home all this time but sorrow got the best of me. Gramps died six months earlier and I was missing him.
I was late to class this particular day and to save time I cut through a paved parking lot (now more littered with broken glass, used condoms and tall weeds that eminated a foul odor).
He rose from behind the stink. The hurry in my step took my defenses down, my blinders were off and this time, the one time, it was a big mistake.
“Who make watch?”
Oh I don’t know. I think it was Timex, really. Most important was the person who wanted to make sure I owned the damn timepiece when he was gone. Now it was almost on to new ownership by a toothless bastard who badly needed a heroin fix.
Even I could tell and I never took a damn drug. Good for him. Wait until he tried to sell this thing. He thought he was twitching in the parking lot. Wait until shaky mugger was told by Mr. PawnBroker that it was worth $8 bucks. Maybe.
Yet to me, it was priceless. The days granddad came over after slaving hours stocking shelves in a grocery store. He reached out to hug me with that arm. That hand. He was left handed (like me). The watch. I noticed. The fresh italian bread he cut, buttered and handed to me. The watch was on that arm. I noticed. When he took my hand to cross the street for ice cream with that hand. The watch. I noticed.
This wasn’t my first criminal rodeo. When it came to muggings this was seemingly going to be my fifth go round.However. This time was different because I was going to adjust the outcome. I was going to see how this ended before it ended.
I was going to take control. In a parking lot loaded with more semen than I had in my little scrotum (and it was very little).
The parking lot became a “high-noon,” moment.
I asked Mr. Shaky with shaky knife: “Are you planning to take my watch?”
His face changed. The toothy grin was gone. The change was frightening actually. There was a demon in front of me. Even the shaky bakey stopped.
“Hands it over.”
Mr Knife made an appearance. Surprisingly pointed. No jitters.
“I have a hard time getting it off,” I said. All the time staring at him in the face-blood shot eyes.
He grabbed at it. Dropped the knife. I raised my arm, my right hand as steady as it can be (I was again, a leftie, so it wasn’t easy) and uppercut him with my bookbag. He fell.
On his back. He was shaky again. I got on top of him. I took an old condom and shoved it in his mouth. I took dog shit and shoved it in his mouth. I closed his jaw and then pushed his teeth together with my palm. Right until I saw (felt) him swallow the mix.
Now his blinders were down.
I took the knife. Thought about what I was going to do next. I was ready for anything. Someone was going to pay for the others who were able to mug me before. Before this. Before I possessed the will to fight for what was important. I held it to his throat and began to press. Now I was shaking.
Grandpa can you see me?
Some of your best lessons will occur in places you least expect.
1). Learn anywhere. There are lessons in the rhythm of the world. Everywhere you go. Can you see them? Every day as I drive the toll road I pass a huge parking lot. It’s a place where automobiles are stored before they’re spidered out to car dealers. In late 2007, during the early stage of the financial crisis, this huge lot was EMPTY. It was then I realized the world had changed. The entire world stopped buying cars. I helped clients take action to protect. I watch that lot every day. It’s 25% empty now. I’m concerned. Is your financial advisor truly watching what’s going on? Ask him or her. Ask for an opinion. Not the opinion of the firm they work for either.
2). Fight for what you believe in. The people you believe in. I will do what I can to promote my friends and mentors. I don’t care for anything in return yet I get everything in return. I will fight to keep the people I love even when they don’t love me and they try to stay away. What or who will you fight for today?
3). Don’t let the status quo take your watch. When I reported my incident to NY’s Finest they advised me that I should have never worn the watch to school. I also should have never gone through that parking lot. Thanks. How helpful. Who is stealing what you cherish today?
4). Don’t be afraid to move to ground level to survive. When you fight for what you believe in and it comes down to a good old gutter fight, I’m willing to pick up used condoms and dog crap with my bare hands. How will you get your hands dirty for what you believe in today?
In 1970, the legendary Joni Mitchell wrote and performed a song titled “Big Yellow Taxi.” It was one of my favorites growing up. I don’t know. It was full of whimsy. I don’t give a shit about the message about hugging the environment or whatever.
From Wikipedia. Where would we be without Wikipedia I mean really.
Mitchell got the idea for the song during a visit to Hawaii. She looked out of her hotel window at the spectacular Pacific mountain scenery, and then down to a parking lot.
Joni said this about writing the song to journalist Alan McDougall in the early 1970s:
|I wrote ‘Big Yellow Taxi’ on my first trip to Hawaii. I took a taxi to the hotel and when I woke up the next morning, I threw back the curtains and saw these beautiful green mountains in the distance. Then, I looked down and there was a parking lot as far as the eye could see, and it broke my heart… this blight on paradise. That’s when I sat down and wrote the song.|
A well-known line from the song: “They paved paradise, put up a parking lot.” For me, the parking lot was (is) the paradise.
I tossed the knife. As far as I could. I was out of energy. I did the best I could. The cheap watch was toast. Busted. The mugger was wide-eyed and still. Not blinking. I took what was left of Grandpa’s legacy and stuffed it in his shirt.
I got up. Went to class.
I realized the most valuable possession wasn’t the watch. I just didn’t realize it until I was late for school. On the day I cut through a parking lot.
I learned a valuable lesson, Joni. I’m sorry.
The world needs more parking lots.