Friday, January 11, 2013

A Personal Encounter With Violence

I have seen things in life, up close and personal, that left me with memories I can call up with just the wisp of a thought. I have heard and smelled and tasted and felt (in my abnormally large for a woman hands) life at its best and humanity at its worst. I suppose many of us can say the same thing. So here I am going to share a story with you, a true story. The event occurred in the mid 1980's.

I was working as a cashier in a convenience store in Fort Pierce, Florida, a busy little store. We were across the road from the local community college (IRCC - Indian River Community College) and there were quite a few homes in a small community to the west and north of our location. I was working a morning shift and my relief was due to arrive at about 2 PM. A young lady, perhaps 21. I was not yet 30. 

We were at a quiet time of the day - between class times at the college, local secondary schools had not dismissed for the day, the deliveries of beer, soda, chips and bread had all been made for the store. I was just biding my time, waiting to clock out and head to the house to relax for an hour or two then cook the evening meal. 

I saw the maroon car belonging to my co-worker turn into the parking lot. There was another car right behind her, a black Toyota. Both vehicles came to an abrupt halt and the driver of the second car and my co-worker both jumped out of their cars and ran into the store. They left doors ajar and engines idling. 

They were no sooner in the store than they were engaged in a no holds barred cat-fight. A hair pulling, nail scratching, groin kicking fight. There were not many words, just grunts and squeals. I was behind the counter, backing slowly towards the telephone.

Suddenly there was a glimmer of silver as the girl I had worked with for several weeks suddenly held a switchblade in her hand and thrust it in a quick upward motion into the rib cage of the other girl. The second girl turned and ran out the door, jumped into the black car and sped out of the parking lot.

As she was leaving, my co-worker looked at the blade of the knife, wiped the blood on the leg of her jeans, and smiled in the oddest way. Turning to me, she said, "Call the cops, bitch, and you are next." With that she ran out the door, got in her car, and left.

I called the cops. They were there fairly quick, two cars. One took off in pursuit of the two girls as the officers in the second car took a statement from me after I provided the address of the girl who worked with me. When that was all over and done, I called my supervisor and arranged for another person to relieve me after explaining what had just happened. 

I worked over about 90 minutes that day. I left work with two bottles of wine, went home and drank all of one bottle and most of the other before my not yet husband came home. I may have been pregnant then with my daughter, I am not really sure. My timeline memory of 1984-1986 is not real reliable. I worked at that particular location both before and after she was born. 

I do recall how scared I was that I would be the target of violence because I called the police after witnessing the fight. The young woman did lose her job, but I do not believe either was formally charged following the altercation because I never had to go to court in relation to the incident.

I did acquire a small handgun afterwards, one that would fit in my purse. I was taught to use it properly. I never had to fire that handgun, but felt safer for having the option. 

I no longer have that handgun, I lost it in the divorce you could say - I did not bring it with me when my first husband and I separated. My current husband was in the military, and he owns legally purchased firearms. I have no problem with people owning guns. Violence will occur with or without guns. People are prone to anger. I know that is a simplistic statement, but I know no other way to put it. I will close by sharing a status I posted on Facebook earlier today.

Gun Control? Too late for that. If someone really wants to do harm, they will find a way. Taking away the right to own firearms for defense of life, family or property or for sport/food will not remove the impetus some feel to do harm to others. The issues lie beyond guns. Mental health issues, medications that affect judgement and personality, bullying, the desensitization of the populace through video and audio ... very complex issues need to be addressed. My take on gun control. Everyone else is voicing their opinion, this is mine.

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