How Porsche Pants Saved My Peesch – A RIOTous Story
I now interrupt your regularly scheduled Friday Tech Column to bring you this breaking story.
First let’s go back in time to Wednesday….. I was sitting around in my penguin pajama bottoms, trying to write and trying not to feel like a loser when I got a call from one of my recruiters. She had an assignment for me the next day. It was seven hours of data entry for a union in downtown Oakland. It wasn’t long-term, it wasn’t a great deal of money but it was work and it got me off the couch and out of my penguin PJ’s so I took the assignment.
Thursday dawned way too early. I needed to take BART into Oakland but the parking lot at El Cerrito Plaza is wee and fills up fast. My job didn’t start until 9am but I knew the parking lot would be full by 8am so I got there around 6:15am, sat in the car and waited. I did make one stop into Starbucks for a non-fat, no water, chai tea latte then killed time listening to The Hunt for Red October.
I arrived at Franklin Street in Oakland a little early, started my temp job, got a sandwich for lunch and everything was a normal day. My recruiter told me the job “may” go another day but would in all likelihood end that day since I was helping them catch up with a data entry project. No problem.
Well, an hour after I got back from lunch my supervisor came into my office and told me “We need to finish everything now. We are evacuating the building.” umm what? It seems the verdict in the Fruitvale shooting is coming in and they are evacuating the building and sending everyone home. Great. Not only is my seven hours of work, cut to 5 1/4 hours but the street is now filled with people streaming underground to catch a BART train.
This could get bad. I was living in Oakland when the shooting happened with the ensuing riots. I was also living in Pasadena during Rodney King. I knew no matter what the verdict was, no matter how much respected people, religious leaders or God himself asked people to behave themselves, looting and idiocy WOULD happen. On my way to the station I hear one kid on a phone talking about “lighting shit up”. Great.
The BART station looks like New Years Eve and 4th of July at the same time. Solid streams of people head downstairs to catch outbound trains. The big issue is since this isn’t “Peak time”, the trains are not running with as many cars or as close together. So instead of trains with 9-10 cars four minutes apart, we are getting trains with 4-5 cars six minutes apart. The platform has a few police officers on it and I start a quick mental inventory of what I can use for a weapon in my purse. A quick search turns up assorted lip gloss, a writing notebook, a pen, my receipt from Starbucks, my wallet, my iphone, a purse hanger from Club 33, and a hard peppermint candy. Great. I don’t think even MacGyver could make anything out of that.
The one thing I knew, no one was going to get my iphone so under the concealment of my long coat, I took my phone and stuck it in down my pants and into my knickers. Now my peesh is protected with bullet proof glass. Go me!
The first train pulls up but it’s so packed only 1/4 of the people waiting can squeeze in. People are starting to panic. All they want to do is get on a train and get out of Dodge before the verdict is read and all hell breaks loose. I’m feeling pretty calm since I now have my bulletproof peesch protection and I’m armed with my dreaded peppermint candy super weapon. I pushed and shoved my way onto the second train. No, actually there was no pushing involved though I put my loud voice to good use bellowing over the din “Can we please fill in the aisles so we can get more people on the train?”, “Squeeze in everyone, let’s just pretend we’re in Tokyo or Mumbai or…”
“Boston!” a perky brunette woman chirped up. “Yes! Boston! Who’s been to Boston?” and thus started the Sargent Comedy Hour. As we rolled out I pitched in with quips like “Make a new friend but don’t get too friendly!” or “I hope no one ate beans for lunch.” Everyone on the train was great. We made sure the people who needed to get out were able to squeeze through the throng before packing more people in. All and all, everyone was orderly, in good spirits and I didn’t have to unleash peppermint destruction on any marauders.
After calling my Mom to let her know I was OK, because I know she would freak out if she heard this on the news, I went out with friends to a whisky tasting far away from Oakland and the rioting I knew was a foregone conclusion. This morning, I turned on the TV to see the results of the usual bad elements and thugs. Yup, stores looted, cars smashed, graffiti sprayed and now in the light of day the near deserted streets just look sad. Citizens are working to scrub off paint, sweep up glass and shake their heads at the animals who think it’s fun to assault people who had nothing to do with what happened. Great. These are the people who should be in a cage with the key thrown away.
Just to make things all that much better, I saw the place where I had been working not 15 hours ago on the news. It had been vandalized. Well at least we’re fine, life goes on and I may even ride BART into The City today. Though I’m still going to be packin’ some peppermint candy heat!